Friday, March 15, 2013

Our First Guest Post!

Beck here - things are too grimly sad around my place for me to write this week (MY CAT!) but we have a lovely guest post from the delightful Kate Linnea Welsh, who writes the Morning Coffee Link Round-Up that ALWAYS accompanies my morning coffee. I hope you enjoy her post!

I've been an avid reader of this blog since its reboot, partially because the Ladies Who (Make) Lunch are such witty and delightful writers, but also because, even though I'm single and have no kids, the horrible monotony of making lunches is a scourge that affects us all. I've been working in an office for almost a decade now, and I still haven't worked out a system that actually works for me for more than a week or two at a time.

Obviously, I would never claim that figuring out how to feed myself is as much work as those of you who are feeding whole families. But meal prep for one is not without its own challenges. On a practical level, small quantities can be difficult: If I make normal recipes, it can be hard to eat all the leftovers before getting thoroughly sick of them. And I love fresh produce but I constantly struggle to eat it before it spoils. It can be difficult on a psychological level, too: I love cooking and baking, and I love feeding people, but when it's just me, it's way too easy to feel like it just isn't worth the effort.

My schedule also means that, despite my best intentions and plans, lunch prep in the mornings just doesn't happen. I spend my mornings writing, which means that by the time I've managed to get up and shower and get dressed, I've got about two hours to throw together a link round-up for my personal blog and write five to ten posts for other sites. No matter how much I may tell myself the night before that I'm going to take the time to pack an interesting lunch in the morning, when it comes down to it, I'd always rather write up one more piece of casting news or find the code for one more movie trailer. So any plan that involves more than a minute or two of work in the morning just isn't going to work out for me.

I've tried just eating leftovers, but a night or two of deciding that I'm too tired after work to do more than heat up some vegetable soup blows that plan up. I actually love peanut butter sandwiches and could probably happily eat them with some carrot sticks every day, but by Thursday or so, I no longer love making peanut butter sandwiches. And when I make a big casserole or something on Sunday and eat it all week, it's great because I don't have to think about lunch for a while but awful because I have to eat the exact same thing every day. In an ideal world, I think, I'd cook on the weekends, portion things out, and do this regularly enough that I had a constantly-refreshed stock of different lunches in the freezer that I could rotate through so I wouldn't get bored. In the real world, I spend too many weekends traveling to have ever actually made that work.

Sometimes, if I'm having a particularly bad week, I just give up and buy some frozen organic meals or order vegetable wraps from the deli in the office cafeteria, but that's too expensive to do all the time, and even if the organic meals are less awful than other frozen meals, that's still more processed food than I want to be eating all the time. (I do have coworkers who buy their lunches out every day. It sort of baffles me. Wouldn't they rather be spending that money on books and DVDs? But hey, if that's their priority and it works for them, more power to them.)

And so, still, this completely normal quotidian activity causes me way too much stress and angst. I feel like I should be able to put it on autopilot, but I can't figure out how. Is it just me? Do I have some sort of lunch-related mental block? Has anyone cracked this problem? Please, tell me if you have.

This week's plan: I'm going to cook some tofu and quinoa and chop some vegetables over the weekend, and throw them together in various combinations for salads. We'll see how it goes


  1. What my husband does is stock up on stuff for his lunches that stays at work. He always has tuna, some soup, bread, etc. Granted, he's the kind of guy who doesn't care if he eats out of a can, or eats the same thing every day for a week, AND he works in an environment where food he leaves in the fridge or the cupboard will still be there when he goes looking for it days later. But it allows him to skip the lunch-making step in the morning without relying on leftovers (with six of us, leftovers are even more infrequent than they were when there were four of us) or spending a couple hours' work each week buying his lunch "out". (Since he works in a tiny village at the edge of a national park, options for buying lunch are limited anyway.)

    1. Interesting! I could leave non-perishable stuff in my cubicle but can't leave stuff in the fridge longer than a day or so, unfortunately. The biggest issue I've had when I've tried to do things like that in the past is that we have no dish-washing facilities, which makes it harder to prep anything at the office.

  2. When I was a swinging single girl, I used to eat a) popcorn b) steamed rice and broccoli, and/or c) Craisins and rainbow sherbert for dinner on a very regular basis. Very well balanced! But I found cooking for just one person to be a terrible challenge, so I can really relate to this. Thanks for posting, Kate! And I had no idea of your morning coffee round up - I'm now subscribed to your site. Thanks babe. xo

    1. Thanks! Hope you like the links - I have fun putting them together.

  3. I had a hell of a time prepping food before I had kids, because neither Michael nor I likes to eat the same meal more than twice, and leftovers would quietly turn to science experiments in the back of the fridge.

    I never did solve it. I just had a bunch of kids who are big eaters. :D

    So, solidarity, but no practical advice. Thanks for writing this post for us!

  4. Believe it or not, peanut butter sandwiches freeze well. You can make a big batch assembly line style, freeze them, and then toss one in your bag and it will thaw by lunch. This works better with what we call grainy bread because it dries out a little when freezing but can handle the condensation of thawing without getting soggy, unlike white or regular wheat bread.

  5. I feel like cracking the lunch code for myself would be easier if I could just happily eat the same thing every day. Alas: I like variety.

    Thanks for guest posting!