How to Bring Your Lunch to Work: A Guide

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Bringing your lunch to work sounds so simple, but it’s actually almost impossible. Or, it was, until I cracked it.

Step 1: This is the easy part. Pick something simple that you’ll eat for lunch every single day, and buy supplies to make that thing. Yes, marinated vegetables and goat cheese on gently toasted focaccia with a side of quinoa salad does sound delightful, but that’s not what you will be eating. Instead, try this: Peanut butter. Loaf of bread. Apples.

Step 2: When home, unload apples, bread, and peanut butter and leave in conspicuous area, perhaps on the table, next to your stack of unpaid bills.

Step 3: Monday morning. As you’re running out the door, remember: you have lunch things! Ignore the feeling that it’s too much work to go back into the kitchen. Go back to the kitchen. Throw bread, peanut butter, and apples into your bag. Notice the bills. Leave the bills. Turn to go, take three steps, remember a knife. Get the knife. Okay, get the bills. Get out.

Step 4: At the office, throw down your bag, remember apples at the bottom of it, curse. Put lunch supplies in a neat stack on your desk. Put bills next to pile of lunch supplies, as visual reminder of necessity of lunch supplies. Ignore for rest of morning.

Step 5: Do your work. (“Do your work.”)

Step 6: Avoid all thoughts of food. That salad at the deli next door is not in your future. Nor is a burrito from Chipotle or the sando from Starbucks. If something bad happens at work — like, you don’t feel like working — do not use this as an excuse to treat yourself to lunch. You are a poor person and it’s time to start acting like one. No soup and salad for you. If you find yourself staring despondently at a bruised apple and smooshed bread, cut it out. Look at those bills. You earned this.

Step 6: Okay, since you brought your lunch today and under no circumstances will be purchasing lunch items, you can probably take a coffee break and buy a baked good. BUT THAT’S IT.

Step 7: Ignore the coffee shop’s sandwich offerings. Ignore the coffee shop’s soup of the day. Get your coffee, get your baked good, and leave.

Step 8: This is the hard part. As your coworkers start to leave for lunch, block them out. Just say no to the taco cart, the Thai place, the fast food joint, the secret boozy lunch spot. Beware: they will hem and haw and groan at you for being so lame and not coming with them. They will say: only losers bring their lunches to work. They will have a point. But disregard it.

Step 8a: “But it’s somebody’s birthday and they’re all going to Olive Garden for soup and salad and — “ Oh that sounds super fun, but no.

Step 8b: “But I haven’t eaten any vegetables in a week and so I should probably go eat some greens — “ The apple will do you just fine. No.

Step 8c: “But my work crush asked me if I want to go get a slice and he’s never done that before and I’m wearing my favorite outfit and — “ This is obviously a very special circumstance, I mean, what if this is the first day of the rest of your life together? Except, no. You can’t. You brought lunch today. If he really loved you, he’d stay and eat peanut butter bread with you.

Step 8d: “But I’m having the worst day of my whole life ever. I hate the office, I hate my hair, I hate my life, all my bills are overdue, and the only thing that will make me feel better is sesame noodles from the deli across the street … or lying down in the street. The lunch things will not spoil! I’ll just start tomorrow! — “ This does sound like a real tough time, actually! But you know what’s actually going to help your situation? Eating that delicious lunch you brought. From home.

Step 8e: “But I think I developed a peanut allergy in the last four hours and I don’t want to risk it — “ Wrap a slice of bread around an apple. Delicious.

Step 9: If resisting peer pressure is hard for you, go at it a different way. Only accept jobs at places where you hate all of your coworkers. Alternatively, get them all to hate you. Working somewhere that won’t let you leave for lunch is also a good option, or a place with such elaborate security theater or terrible parking that leaving the office is even more painful than bringing your own food into it. As a last resort, Google “food poisoning” and every lunch spot near you. Read the stories. They’re all true.

Step 10: If you made it through the day without buying lunch, invite coworkers out for drinks to celebrate. Your treat.

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