Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Let's Do Lunch

My favorite three work related words are 1. let's, 2. do, and 3. lunch. It indicates a lot of things, but mostly that I will be dining at a fine establishment in New York City on the company's corporate card. The fact that I don't have a corporate card nor would anyone ever need to take me out for a fancy lunch at a four star restaurant has not made me fall out of love with these three working words. No, instead I dream of a day when people will want to woo and dine me. Until then, I am a paper-bagger, bring-my-lunch-to-work kinda girl. I'm also poor. So from one poor Working Girl to another, here are some ways to save that moola when considering your lunching options.

Bag It
I know, I know. I hear you girls, paper bag lunches are so middle school. I was even one of those girls in high school who bought lunch everyday, so trust me when I say this is hard even for me to do. Bringing lunch for me is always difficult because I'm very forgetful (so I end up leaving my soup and pretzels in the cupboard and then remember two hours later that I have no lunch) and I'm a sucker for fast food, pizza, etc. My trick is to purchase my food for the week early Monday morning. I wake up early, go to the grocery store near work, buy exactly five meals (healthy, nutritious and usually Lean Cuisine), and that way I have no excuse to 'just run downstairs and grab a slice' when I could just run to our kitchen and heat up a frozen meal. And I end up saving big bucks. 
*Frozen meals can always be substituted for deli meats, canned soup...I think you get the idea.

Get Creative
When turkey sandwiches and PB&J just aren't cutting it anymore, it's time to go Food Network on your lunch's ass. Recently, I've been frequenting the new websites for meals to spice up my brown bag lunches. I happened upon and while their suggestions aren't out-of this-world new, I did think their idea to bring a chicken cutlet sliced up and some honey mustard a good enough idea to try. While I'll admit that Rachel Ray kills me, her 30-minute meal cookbooks are killer in the kitchen for a post-grad like myself. And last but not least, my favorite place to find new killer lunch ideas is Kaboose. They have sandwich recipes, salads, soups, Mexican recipes, and even semi-easy Chinese recipes. My only criteria is that the lunches I find are easy to make and have relatively easy to find ingredients (because I am so not going all the way to Italy to pick some herbs for my next pasta salad). 

Dining Out
When that annoying co-worker just won't stop pestering you to join them for a meal or you just can't fathom eating another stale chip from home, there are ways to skimp on your dining out excursions. My advice is to avoid sit-down restaurants at all costs since these will immediately put you into double digits range, but if you can't avoid it stick with appetizers and side salads. If at all possible try to veer towards mom and pop owned delis - generally they will be cheaper than Cosi or Lenny's whose sandwiches range from $8-$10. 

One thing I won't say no to though is a free meal. And I've had my fill - Sushi Samba, Big Daddy's, The Pump - I'm a regular 'let's do lunch' hoe. 


Anonymous said...

Don't forget you can always ask your wonderful semi-chef sister to give you lunch ideas.

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a good idea anonymous. I bet WG2's sister is a really good cook!

Anonymous said...

Yeah! Way to brown bag it. I am so proud of you!

Anonymous said...

I find that I can only eat Lean Cuisines once or twice a week because a. they aren't very filling and b. they don't taste like real food...but I still buy them in bulk.

My trick is to make a lot of something for dinner one night and then bring the leftovers the next couple of day for lunch. Whole wheat pasta and marinara and my homemade pineapple chicken salad (YUM!) and my personal favorites.

Working Girl One said...

I want that pineapple chicken salad recipe. Sounds delicious!

Anonymous said...

I try to make it as easy and healthy as possible...and I pretty much wing it.

I use:
1 bag Tyson frozen chicken chunks (use 1/2 at a time)
Red seedless grapes
1 small can of pineapple tidbits (in their natural juice)
Low Fat Mayo

First I cut up the chicken, celery and grapes into smaller pieces. Then I mix that up and add the pineapple. I don't drain much of the juice...I use the it to add extra flavor to the chicken salad. So I mix that all up and add maybe a tablespoon of mayo (just for consistency). I usually put it in the fridge for a little while because it brings out the flavor of the pineapple.

Then I put the chicken salad in a whole wheat pita and enjoy my not-so-hard word. It's delicious every time.

Andrea said...

you all shoudl go back to grad school and live at home where your parents do the lunch packing for you!

gosh, my life is so glamorous! (btw is it weird that i jsut had to sing the fergie song to figure out how to spell glamorous?!)