Office lunch D.I.Y

I am not a morning person; you won't hear me whistling at 7am while whipping up a gourmet sandwich for lunch. I get up, do the necessary, and fly off to work. So how can I keep my lunch healthy and inexpensive?

by: Ilze Dreyer | 22 May 2007

Keeping a lunch stash
Create a lunch drawer in your desk, dedicated to snacks and lunch ingredients. Six meals a day is better than three big ones.

There are two lovely ladies working across the passage from me and they have a tandem operation. They share one big drawer and add items daily. They always look so happy and healthy with their nuts, fresh fruit salads, and other treats. If our office is ever under attack from a band of villains, I know under whose desk I'll be hiding.

Practical things to have in this drawer include breakfast cereals, dried fruits, raisins, health rusks, Provitas, pretzels, nuts, tuna (if you must) and maybe some two minutes noodles... don't forget peppermints.

However if I could ask the genie for a lunch drawer believe me, Provitas would not be on the list. Melissa's choc-chip cookies, biltong sticks, droë wors, Woolworths mixed nuts and soya snacks, dried mango strips, instant pastas of the most delicious kind, R500 000 and a door leading to my bed at home...

Making your own
First you'll have to go to a Tupperware party or two for containers and then come up with creative meals during the week. If you feel the same about mornings as I do, try and pack lunch right after you've finished dinner. From then on work on a rotation system: Monday's leftovers become Wednesday's lunch, Tuesday's leftovers for Thursday. Always cook too much.

Remember, if you wrap Thursday's curry in a roti, or add some fresh vegetables to Tuesday's stir-fry you can always fool yourself into believing that you're eating something different. However avoid eating potent pilchard surprises, pizzas loaded with garlic and boiled eggs... unless you want your nearest colleague to bugger off.

Braving the fridge
Your last obstacle in making your office lunch more enjoyable, is navigating the communal office fridge. My experience with the communal fridge stems from living with various housemates over the years. I once glued someone's Skippy peanut butter lid shut, after they polished off an expensive bottle of wine I was saving. It was war after that.

But the office fridge is a demon unto itself. Food magically disappear as soon as the seal is broken, so you have two options, either buy a lockbox with a 12-digit-combination lock or store it in containers that look as unappetizing as possible. Bite the corner of the lid for effect. Stock up on some feta cheese, peanut butter, fruit, tapenade, sweet chilli sauce, Mrs Ball's, salad dressing and mayonnaise that will help add a bit of flavour if a dish gets tired.

Now the only thing is to avoid the vending machine and keep your hands off anything in a bright plastic wrapper in the shape of a bar... and start stockpiling containers.

P.S. If you could ask the genie for a lunch drawer what would be in it?

- None


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