When I am 9-5ing (Most times in my life I am a Full Time Temp, is that possible you ask? Why yes, yes it is!) I can generally be found working in the Herald Square area of NYC. When lunch time comes around (although the choices are abundant in this area of NYC) the LAST thing I want to do is to go out in the craziness (think Macy’s SALE days!) and try to decide what I want to eat, possibly just grabbing something convenient and running back inside.
Most of my co-workers order things to be delivered. On two floors out of the 4 that make up our offices there are Fresh Direct vending machines with some decent meal ideas including pasta dishes, salads, vegetarian entrees and meat entrees. They are generally about $8. Besides trying to make decisions, eating at work or ordering in can add up by the end of the week. My solution? I almost ALWAYS pack a lunch. Ok, I almost always pack Breakfast, Lunch and a Snack! I am almost ALWAYS happy with it too! I know what I like and I pack it, I know exactly what the ingredients are and by having it with me I am unlikely to get too hungered to make bad/quick decisions. And it’s CHEAPER Hello?! Some of the things I bring:
My FAVORITE BREAKFAST is a couple of apples and maybe a Kind Bar (or another sort of bar with minimal and whole ingredients like Lara Bars) some unsalted trail mix from the vending machine or nuts/seed mix from home. On days when I feel more hungry a couple organic boiled eggs (maybe mixed with mayo and mustard for a quick egg salad) and crackers hit the spot. If I for some reason didn’t bring breakfast I like to go to a deli with a salad bar and load up a container with fresh cut fruit and buy a single serving bag of nuts (or two).
FAVORITE packed LUNCH is a BIG salad with something ‘meaty’ on the side like trail mix, an Amy’s burger, a boiled egg, an avocado or steamed veggies with a little sesame oil and spices (or even pesto!). If I am really hungry I will mix and match and possibly eat my lunch for breakfast :)
FAVORITE packed afternoon SNACK is (sometimes the same thing I have for breakfast or) often a bag of Baby Carrots, Sugar Snap Peas, cut up Cucumbers, and a pint of Grape Tomatoes I keep in the work refrigerator. Bring a tub of Hummos and ya got a party! Yum! If you have a refrigerator you can use at work leave some hummus there and a bottle of salad dressing. If you need to go to a salad bar for lunch adding your own dressing back at the office makes it SO much cheaper!
Other Ideas that work for me for portable Office Foods:
Make aheads are things like tofu or egg veggie frittatas, hearty and satisfying cold or hot!
Fruit salad: toss a generous amount of berries with coconut shreds, nuts and raisins in a bowl, it’s dessert worthy!
If you like hearty breads: ezekial english muffins with natural peanut butter and jelly or bananas, portable and sandwich format (this is my favorite really, but this combo usually makes me tired so I save it for occasionally, same thing happens to my energy level with cereals)!
Big Salads – and they don’t have to be all lettuce! Or even ANY lettuce! Shredded carrots and raisins salad, or think cucumbers, tomatoes ,steamed veggies, avocados, nuts, beans , seeds, artichokes, roasted red peppers… the combination possibilities are endless! And all the dressings to choose from! I like to make my own, a simple vinaigrette 3 to 1 oil (my favorite is olive but mix it up!) to vinegar (right now i use mostly apple cider vinegar but mix it up!) with mustard (dijon is my go to flavor) and honey (or maple syrup, stevia or nothing!) to taste. So good. I always like to include a crunchy item to end with like some crackers (I like Marys Gone Crackers, Crackers/Flax Seed Crackers/Gone Raw) or nuts or another sort of Bar. Sometimes a nice ending is a piece of ginger candy. Sure there’s sugar in the ginger candy but it is SO strong I just need a little piece and totally satisfied.
My snacks often consist of the same type of thing I have for breakfast or a smaller version of what I have for lunch. The key for me when working at the office (or being away from home for long periods in general) is to keep a ‘snack bag’ with me to combat the temptation of free bagels, birthday cakes, leftover conference food, donuts, complimentary pizza lunches and well intentioned homemade cookies brought in to cheer us all up in the midweek :)
How do you combat office grazing? Do you eat and bring the same things everyday? Do you order out? How do you navigate the ‘free’ food at the office, take a bite to be polite or work it into your calorie balance for the day? I remember a co-worker stating: “Just remember the FREE food at work is not free… it adds up SOMEwhere!”