The one-track lunch loop

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Virgil Evetts

After many years of treading the 9-5 commuter grind, I’m now working from home. So far it’s a welcome change and I’m liking it more every day. I could get quite used to the hours of uninterrupted silence to just work, the freedom and time to do unpleasant but niggly cleaning chores that haven’t made the grade over my previously precious weekends (like washing the windows inside and out), and most importantly the time to really focus on the next chapter of my professional life.

It’s strange and exciting and pregnant with possibility (just as my best beloved is pregnant with person). The only downside I’ve discovered so far is that I’m not very good at remembering to stop and eat, and when I do surface from the keyboard , I don’t really know where to start. In a real job, there are either designated break times or friends and colleagues (not necessarily the same thing) to knock on your office door and shake you from your reverie. There are also, if you’re lucky, plenty of options on the reasonably-priced-but-lip-smackingly-good lunch front.

At home, on one’s own-some, it’s all too easy to sit down to work at 7:30am and not stand up again for many, many hours. I live close enough to the local cafes to pop out for a pick-me-up, but the local cafes are mostly pretty blah and at any rate that’s no way to be frugal. So then there is the fridge. I don’t do left-overs. Never have. Once I’ve cooked a meal, then eaten it, I’m done with it altogether. My best beloved likes a hot lunch anyway, and these days I feel her needs are greater.

So at the moment I’m struggling to find inspiration. By day I’m subsisting mostly on toasted sandwiches (Vogel’s bread, a little Gruyere and a smear of sweet chilli sauce). Once a week I might treat myself to sushi or a bagel with salmon in the village, or if I’m in the city something cheap but brilliant like roast duck on rice, bulgogi or ramen and gyoza. But most days, at home alone, I’m stuck on a one-track lunch loop. Gruyere toasted sandwich. Repeat. Morning and afternoon tea, if I remember them, are taken care of thanks to a bout of baking I’m working out of my system (after a brief and ill-advised flirtation with store-bought chocolate-covered doughnuts). I’m loving Louise cake just now, but it really isn’t lunch. I can’t be the only person caught up in this dilemma. What does one do about lunch when home all day?

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14 thoughts on “The one-track lunch loop

  1. The trouble with having your own business is that while being at home looks like a great opportunity to get a nice lunch, in reality you never have time. I make guacamole on Vogels toast every single day for my business partner and myself. However, when the Cuisinart Soup Maker gets to NZ (soon, they tell me) I’m hoping soupmaking will be quick enough to do every day.

  2. After reading these comments I decided to turn over a new leaf in my lunch habits. Unfortuantley the avocado I had my eyes on has gone brown so the vogel bread is in the toaster and the peanut butter on the bench ready for lunch :)

  3. Home made soup, I purposely make batches up and freeze them for myself, wraps with salads, hummus etc and falafel, again which I have purposely made and popped into the freezer. Cheese & mushroom toasted sandwich with a sprinkle of paprika. A platter of rice crackers, hummus, carrot sticks & perhaps a handful of almonds if I feel in a picky mood.
    I will eat some left over meals, pastas are alright, and curries, but I don`t do reheated veggies esp potato anything, not quite the same.

  4. I am also a member of the ‘what shall I do for lunch’ club, also. Because I never skip breakfast and it’s usually cereal, I don’t really feel hungry and lift my head to realise it’s around 2pm.
    Often my husband comes home and he just wants a sandwich. I’m not so keen on more carbs if I can help it.
    I will usually end up having a piece of fruit and a slice of cheese. Sometimes I will put a small platter together. Usually this consists of things such as a few nuts, a couple of dried apricots, pickled onion, a couple of olives, a couple of small cheese cubes, 1 or 2 crackers, an apple, cored, quartered then cut into smaller segments. I will pick on that over the next hour or so. If I have been near the shops I often pick up a couple of pieces of sushi.
    Preparing lunch for company is a totally different thing.

  5. Sharon you’re quite right. I don’t mind saying that I’m pretty proficient in the kitchen and get a lot of pleasure from cooking in general, but when it comes to lunch I can rarely be bothered with any effort- unless it’s for company and even then I have to really force myself to be creative.

  6. I would venture to say that most of us are interested in cooking, we are on a foodlover’s website after all.

    This makes the all too familiar lunch choices shown here look a little sad.

    I too work from home, and more often than not, my lunch is literally scraped together from whatever bits and pieces I can find in the fridge and/or cupboard. These lunches are normally sadly lacking in excitement or inspiration.

    I too am guilty of sometimes sitting down to work, and realising at 1pm that I haven’t stopped at all, and maybe that is why my back and neck are screaming at me to stop! Then there are the days where I am guilty of not sitting down to work…….

  7. At my house:

    Fresh chicken thigh meat, cubed, stir-fried in a pan greased with a smear of good olive oil (about 10 minutes cooking time), tipped onto plate and eaten plain (surprisingly delicious) or with something like Anathoth Fruit Chutney or Golden Sun Thai Chilli Sauce With Ginger as a dipping sauce.

    Hot meat sandwich – any meat will do (chicken, bacon, etc) but particularly a couple of thin slices of (Angus) beef fillet (you can freeze them as thin slices) just seared in a hot pan. Hopefully prior to doing that you might have caramelised some onions slowly for 20 minutes in a little pot. Get two slices of fresh bread (toast it if you desire), put some butter on, a few salad things if wished like lettuce and tomato, place that hot meat (and onions) into the sandwich. The heat melts the butter and enjoyment follows.

    Thai Pumpkin Soup – that recipe with 1kg of good, dry buttercup pumpkin, 2 tbspns red curry paste, 300ml coconut cream and some coriander for the ending if desired. Cook the pumpkin and paste until it starts to catch in the pan, then add the coconut cream and water to cover. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer until pumpkin’s cooked. Puree.

    Corn fritters, especially when made with your own fresh corn from the garden. Add some diced free range streaky bacon.

    Eggs on toast or classic egg sandwich with some parsley from the garden and a bit of mayo.

    If you’re at home for lunch for a long enough period of your life, you might come to view leftovers in a different light. Often they aren’t the sad food you might think they are. Leftover stews taste nicer the next day, as do cold marinated chicken drumsticks and even cold homemade pizza.

    There’s lot’s more but I’m off to see what I can find for morning tea  For lunch I’m having homemade baked beans (I use the foodlovers recipe bank recipe, with some major alterations).

  8. I am shocking with lunch too as im a grazer.
    But if I have cereal for breakfast I will have toast for lunch which i have either marmite or smooth peanut butter on it.
    I might make myself one of those packet (yes, slap me) pasta n sauces for a quick lunch.
    I also may have cereal for lunch.Which is normally some flake thing with sliced almonds and coconut flakes and dried fruit.

    I dont do sammies unless they are not made by me as I would make myself marmite and chip sandwiches.
    For a treat, I will grab a sandwich and coffee from wild bean…

    I dont do leftovers too unless its potato or vegetable bake, they seem to taste better the next day, same applies for left over roast vegetables.
    But If there is soup, I will have that…

    To be honest, I hate lunch..

  9. The possibilities are endless if you have a well stocked fridge/freezer (and motivation). I tend to go the sandwich route with fresh fruit and yoghurt but sometimes you want something else. Poached eggs on toast is always a standby and I’m quite partial to BLTs made with nice grainy toasted bread and avocado if I have some. Keep a stash of bagels in the freezer and have them toasted with hot bacon, lashings of garlic aioli, lettuce and tomato – great when you are home alone and won’t be breathing on fellow office workers. And in winter a bowl of hot homemade soup and something to dunk in it always warms ya up.

  10. Poached eggs on toast.
    Soup (need to make this one in advance and either pull out of the fridge or freezer)
    Bircher Muesli (I know I know)
    Otherwise I make toasted sandwiches, salad sandwiches, pull scones from the freezer, have marmite on toast, avocado on crackers etc…

  11. I really like it when I have a meeting or other excuse to be out at lunch time and I buy sushi.
    Otherwise my home lunches are terrible – crunchy peanut butter on vogel toast when I am starving and can’t think. Vogel toast with tomato, bacon, basil and leaves when I am hungry with time to think.
    I always follow up with dark chocolate and a couple of gingernuts -a match made in heaven. Failing that it is mallowpuffs or whatever is left over in loot bags from kids parties :)

  12. I am lucky enough to be able to go home for lunch (I have a 5 minute walking commute) and I have been keeping a stash of ‘naked’ Wholly Bagels in the freezer – so easy to whip up a bagel and so many options for toppings. I force myself to vary it up by having a variety of flavours – they don’t all work with the same toppings. So maybe I’m not much better but I’m not bored yet. ;-)