Thursday, September 1, 2011

Lunch M-F

Now that I’m back at a full-time job, I’m back to figuring out what to eat for lunch.

Doesn’t that sound so depressing? Scheduling your day around a mid-day meal??


But the life of a cube monkey is often boring and monotonous and according to Ryan Howard from The Office: “Lunch is the only thing I can control.” (AMERICA!!! F YEA!!!)


But choosing what to eat for lunch isn't that easy.


There are hundreds and hundreds of options, and since I’m not in college anymore, I have to factor in dumb adult things like my bank account balance and number of calories from fat per serving.


(One thing is the same from college: If I’m hungover, I will nourish the pit in my stomach with greasy pizza and/or pasta. That’s easy.)


But on non-hungover 9-5 days, I find myself constantly weighing (no pun intended) what I eat for lunch based on these common, very boring requirements:


CHEAP!

It’s hard to find a delicious lunch at a restaurant under $10. And even the “cheap” options aren’t so cheap. (Embarrassing story: I actually paid $8 + for an egg salad sandwich last week. EGG SALAD.)


Of course, when you have money to spend on luxuries like multi-grain bread and alfalfa sprouts, it’s fine.


But, if you’re like me and manage your money perfectly so that you have $26 total in your bank account a few days before your next payday, spending $10 on a turkey sandwich isn’t doable.


That’s when I activate my cheapest lunch options: the frozen meal or fast food dollar menu.


Sodium intake be damned!!! Have you seen the delicious-looking picture on the box? Restaurant quality for $3??? You can't beat it. That’s four days of lunch AND dinner on a $26 budget people!!!


Sure, it’s not super classy eating food out of a black, plastic container, and sure, sometimes you bite into noodles that are cold in the middle, but at least you won’t have to steal food from your roommate…again.


Fast food is another cheap option, although it ruins my appetite when I think about where exactly they got chicken that only costs a dollar.


But, fast food won’t fall into the next requirement…


HEALTHY!

If I’ve learned anything from my Twitter account, it’s the tweets from the “Eat this not that” person.


No sauces or spreads!

No carbs!

No French fries!

No fatty meat!


This is why salads are a staple lunch item and are everywhere with their dried cranberries and orange slices.


And why people battle the ridiculous Whole Foods parking lot to get their three-bean Guatemalan soup and Mediterranean tuna salad (which may or may not put them on a path to enlightenment. Ha. Sorry. Carry on with your Patchouli.)


Appealing to the healthy lunch crowd is also why Jamba Juice just opened next to my office, taunting me with good-looking 20-somethings on the wall with shiny hair and white teeth.


Subway is a decent and common healthy lunch spot and BONUS! you can find one every two miles, but in order to keep it healthy, you can’t have anything delicious on it like mayo or that bread with the cheese.


Of course, you can always fall back on the Lean Cuisine frozen meals for a healthy option.

Sigh.


TIME!

Sometimes you need to get something quick because you’re behind deadline, and sometimes you want to stretch out your lunch break as long as possible because your boss is out of town.


That’s when you plan your lunch around how far from the office you want to travel and whether or not you want to actually sit down at Applebee’s or just get their lunch combo to go (uh, for example.)


If it’s a to-go order, then you have to weigh what will still be delicious even after sitting under a heat lamp for 20 minutes. (Hint: NOT crab cakes).


OTHER! (FILL-IN-THE-BLANK)

The thing about lunch is that it serves very different purposes for everyone. For me, it’s for practical purposes like getting out of the office and uh, feeding myself.


Others use lunch as a status quo, and make sure to go to fancy places to be seen, or impress clients with tableside Caesar Salad and freshly shaved Parmesan.


These lucky 9-5 lunchers aren’t ruled by money, saturated fat content or time restrictions. They can simply eat "whatever they feel like" that day. Bastards.


I, too, hope to reach that lunchtime nirvana.


But until then, Lean Cuisine will always be in business.


-Jenny

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