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You can call me Hal.

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Today, a cat picture lunch post. Tomorrow, we return to our regularly scheduled fannish topics.

Tomorrow I go back to working full-time hours after being part-time for July and August. (It's going to be such a shock to my system!) I am trying to save money by bringing my lunch with me most days of the week. I don't cook a lot and when I do, it's usually something that doesn't generate leftovers. So, I'm trying to figure out some fast, easy, and tasty lunches.

When I was growing up, I took my lunch to school most days. And I would only ever eat tuna sandwiches. Every day, for years and years, tuna sandwiches. Bread, mayo, tuna, and salt. It's still a big favourite of mine, but I don't think I can eat it more than two or three times a week right now.

What do you take to work for lunch? How much time do you spend making it? Is it really worth the bother?

Do you have a fridge/microwave where you work? Because, no...I don't usually *make* a lunch, but I do bring lunch in whenever I've made soup or chili or casserole or pasta the night before. I know you say you don't typically generate leftovers when you cook, but you might think about making meals that *do* give you leftovers (since those kinds of meals are often the easiest to make anyway).

We do, so I guess that's something to consider. :)

Since most recipes I make for dinner will feed 4-6, I always have leftovers to take to work the next day for lunch. And to have the next night for dinner. And to take the work the *next* day for lunch. *g* You get the picture.

That wouldn't be too bad. Next step, decide on what to make. Hmm.

My office is in a converted apartment, so we have a full kitchen. Sometimes we actually cook things. Most of the time, though, I bring salad and fruit in tupperware and nibble on that, though the company provides granola bars and juice for everyone. I also tend to bring yogurt.
Every once in a while I'm reminded that no, most people's offices don't stock up on Oreos, crackers, Coke and other stuff for the employees to consume.

When I worked at a place with a full kitchen, I would sometimes make myself things like scrambled eggs on toast. Mmm. I suppose I could try living next door to the office. *g*

Tuna onigiri. A little more work, but you can refridgerate them for two or three days so have three meals out of it. Obviously, it doesn't only have to be tuna, but tuna (or simply furikake if you can find some) or maybe shrimp&mayo is easiest. I spend about an hour making them, watching stuff in the background. I think it's worth the bother, but I it's not like I make them so regularly. [I usually run over to the supermarket (literally twenty meters from home) and buy a salad for two Euros because I am a lazy ho.]

How do you cook your rice? I've never been that good at making it properly in a saucepan. What I would reeeeeeeealy like is a zillion dollar Zojirushi fuzzy logic cooker, but I should probably spend a month carrying my lunch to save up for on.

Salad I make every day. But with pre-washed greens, so I just have to throw in a handful, quickly chop some cucumber and mushrooms, and be done with it.

Like Beth, I bring leftovers a lot of the time. Pasta works brilliantly -- just make an additional cupful of noodles and a little extra sauce, and pack up in tupperware what you don't eat for dinner. Pop it in the microwave at work and Bob's your uncle. Other leftovers that travel well are beans and rice, undressed salads, and Chinese take-out. (:

As you know, I do cook a lot, so many of my suggestions might require more effort than you're used to. For instance, I often make a big batch of stew at the weekend that can cover three or four meals. Stew is easy: chop everything, put it in the pot with herbs and stock/water/wine/beer to cover, and simmer over low heat until everything is tender and delicious. You can go about your business while it cooks. And it's even better on the second day. Same goes for soup, which takes even less time to make. If you're willing to devote an hour or so to cooking on Sunday, you will wind up with a lot of portable lunches for the week. Let me know if you want recipes. Soups and stews are both easy and cheap, and quite rewarding -- especially when the weather gets colder.

I'm not a big sandwich person, so these ideas are preferable to me than some quicker options might be. But if you do like sandwiches, you can vary your tuna with things like cheese/avocado, turkey, or good o' pb&j.

Oh, could you send me some recipes? I'm always looking for new things to make and I like to stock my fridge with meals for the week. sorosie at comcast dot net. Thanks!

What do I take? It depends.

Leftovers, either deliberately made (an extra burger, an extra chicken breast, an extra piece of fish) or the result of a large pot of soup or stew or spaghetti. Time spent making? Negligible for the main ingredient. Two minutes if I'm making a sandwich out of the leftovers.

Salad and tuna fish (not tuna salad per se. Bowl of salad plus small can or pouch of tuna on top.) Time spent making - done on the spot.

Sandwich purchased the night before. (Depends where I go, but I often go to a sub shop and get a variety of yummies.)

Leftover pizza or pizza purchased just for lunch.

Frozen meal of some kind. 6 minutes in office microwave.

As for it being worth the bother - there are no kosher places where I work. If I want to eat, I have to bring my own food anyway. And if I don't eat, I become an unpleasant snarly person. And I'm the receptionist. :)

I think I must be the only person around who doesn't cook stuff for supper! My fridge is always leftover free.

Leftovers are simplest, but when I don't have them available, and am (like you) sick of tuna, I usually bring stuff like:
--peanut-butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread
--hummus and pita bread
--cottage cheese

Sometimes, when I'm mentally organized, I'll use an occasion when I'm in the kitchen cooking anyway to whip up some simpleminded burritos (canned pinto beans mooshed up with sauteed onion/garlic, a little pureed chipotle, cumin, red pepper flakes, cheese, wrapped in tortillas). Then I stick them in the freezer and pull one out as I'm heading out the door, and microwave it at work.

Ooh, the burrito idea sounds interesting. I should think about that one. Thanks!

I keep trying to remember to do this.

I've got a nifty collection of the plastic microwaveable boxes that Chinese takeways use in the UK - they are £5 for 50, leakproof, freezer proof, reuseable - and I have tried to fill them with meals I can take to work.

But either a.) a forget or b.) something else crops up at lunch time and they moulder in the work fridge for a month....

I should try to do better - I spent more on lunch last month than the whole of the rest of my food and grocery bill!

Yeah, I have a problem with letting things sit too. I do fine for a while, then skip a day or two or three and then everything is yucky.

I make a big pot of soup/stew. We have it for dinner that night, and then I pot it up into 5 16oz butter tubs, and take it for lunch all week. Sounds boring, but it's a new soup every week, and I find creamy potato spinach and ham very different from veggie curry, very different from three beans and bacon. (It's a little harder than I make it sound -- my partner is veg, so the Sunday version of each soup is veg.)

Then, I pack some baby carrots, a small handful of almonds, a small non-fat yogurt or a 1 oz stringcheese, and a piece of fruit -- that covers a mid-morning and a mid-afternoon snack.

I can't stop myself from grabbing free food when it's available (people bring in cookies, bagels, etc.) but I do feel taken care of enough that I'm almost never tempted to actually go out and pay for food. HTHs!

Good idea, esp re snacky items. I shall try to do better on that count.

I have a drawer full of 1 to 2 cup plastic containers that are freezer safe. I have two crockpots. I practice the "cook once, eat all week" philosophy. On Saturdays and Sundays I throw meat, vegetables, soup ingredients, stews, whatever I feel like - into the crockpot(s) and cook them slowly all day. Then I divide them up into the plastic containers and freeze them. At any given time I have 3 or 4 different choices in the freezer, and I just grab one each morning, and pop it in my bag with an apple or banana or other fruit, and maybe a little bag of pretzels or some leftover veggies or entree or side dish from the previous night's dinner. Everyone who sits there eating their cans of tuna and their take-out salads and their peanut butter sandwiches envies the good smells coming from my lunch :)

You sound like you're about 20x more organized than I am! Ah, the shame. :)

for not planning lunches properly. And my lunch hour varies from 1/2 hr to an hour, depending on what shift I'm working. Usually it's a bagel on the 1/2 hour shift. Filling, I don't have to refridgerate it, and easy to get in bulk (Real Canadian Bagel Co. baker's dozen). I especially like the spinach ones.

I don't like the idea of keeping food in the communal fridge--we've a staff of almost 600 and I've heard horror stories, plus it doesn't seem very clean. So I try to bring non-perishable type things--pepperoni sticks, or granola bars, nasty shit like pop-tarts and cookies on those not so peppy days. And I drink coffee like a madwoman, but enjoy a fruit juice (tetra packs, or I freeze a bottle the night before so it's cold by lunch) for lunch too.

Of course, somedays it's a handful of sunflower seeds and a cigarette, but we all gotta have days like that, right? ;)

Oh, last thought of this way too much information ramble--yeah, it saves money in the long run. Although my thermos of coffee is what's been the lifesaver to me--I buy a container of coffee for 6 bucks that makes a thermos a day all month. That's 20 thermoses. That's roughly four big mugs a day. To buy in the machines at work is 1.25 each time. That's 5.00 a day x 20 days is 100.00. Six bucks...one hundred bucks....lunches work out even better. (Bagel from home approx .45 if bought in bulk, crappy from the machine bagel at work 1.50)

Okay, as 3P0 says, shutting up now!

Re: I'm the worst...

Yeah, this sounds more like me. *g* I'm not worried about our fridge, though, since we have a small staff. But good point about the coffee. I spend too much money on that.

Usually some form of frozen microwave entree. Once I've been working for a few weeks and I have money in my bank account, I start buying lunch. Either I stop at Subway on my way to work and buy a sandwich, or I buy something from the dining room in the building I work in. I hate making lunch, and I hate trying to decide on something to take with me to eat for lunch.

Yeah, lunch is always such a pain. It would be much easier if I lived close enough to work to just go home and make something at the time.

I take a $1.00 lean pocket (I stock up when they're on sale) and it's much cheaper than the $4 I'd pay for lunch in the cafeteria. I take a piece of fruit for midmorning snack and two pieces of bread for afternoon snack (because it's easy. If I knew another easy snack food that wasn't fruit or veggies and that filled me up and wasn't terrible for me, I'd eat that too. Some days I pack carrot sticks and hummis.)

It's really no extra time. I've got an insulated bag which a freezer pack in the bottom. (It's easier than wrangling for space in the fridge.) Somedays I also stick something to drink in there because that is way cheaper than buying soda out of the vending machines.

On days when I use my crockpot, I bring leftovers.

Oh, and chili! Every so often I make a pot of chili that makes 8 servings. I spend about an hour making it. (Not an active hour as after the initial can opening is doen, there's not much to be done but stirring once in a while.) I seperate it out into servings right then and there and then pull one out for lunch.

(Then go up to that last paragraph and replace chili with lasagna. Except leave out the part about the stirring.)

Oooh, and since it's summer, I almost forgot!
1 can of soup + 1 spoon + 1 microwaveable bowl = lunch heaven in the winter.
Very easy. Very economical if you wait for the $1/can soup sales.

Bread is a good idea. Sadly, I dislike fruit and whenever I buy it, more than half always ends up being thrown out. I should make more of an effort there.

Hmm, chili. That sounds like a good idea. Also tasty. :)

At my old job, I would take Tupperware with stir-fry and stuff. Curry is good and reheats well.

At my current job, I don't get a lunch, just alternating five and ten minute breaks, so I don't want to waste time heating stuff. I also don't have a desk, so whatever I bring has to fit in my messenger bag. Here, I bring a peanut butter sandwich or some pretzels or granola bars, or I end up getting a Snickers from the vending machine.

I think it's important to have something to eat. Brain work is still work. You need to stay focused. Once I didn't eat before work (I work nights, so I have breakfast and lunch before and then a snack at work and a small dinner when I get home) and my hands started shaking by the middle of the evening and I couldn't walk in a straight line. SCARY.

I've been trying to be better about breakfast -- that's when I like to get my protein in. Apparently, the perfect brain breakfast would be beans on toast. I may yet try that.

Hmm, maybe a brain cookbook, to plan the perfect meals for cogitation. *g*

I carry a lunch bag that looks like it could feed four. I eat about a fourth of it for lunch and bring the rest home, discard it, put it back in the fridge, whatever. I'm one of those people who never knows what I'm going to want until I'm hungry, so, I bring a little of everything.

A giant lunchbag would be good. I can never fit enough plastic containers into mine.