I spend way too much on eating lunch all week. I remember going out to lunch my senior year of high school and being able to get a full meal for under $5. Granted, I'm pretty much avoiding fast food altogether, but I easily spend between $8 and $15 each day on lunch.
When I'm home for lunch, I do pretty well - tacos or fajitas, fancy burgers, fruit, soup... I can make a good meal. But when I don't have my grill, or stove, or a good toaster oven... just a microwave? If I bring something that I need to microwave, then I'm more likely to wind up eating at my desk.
I need to get up from my desk. When I stay at my desk for lunch, my brain checks out earlier in the day. Like 2pm. I just really need to get up, go outside, walk around... something. I need that mental break in order to last until 5:30pm or 6pm.
And finally, I am really trying to eat better. I'm not severely overweight, but I am technically overweight, and ideally I should drop about 15 lb. I need more vegetables in my life, and whole grains, and smaller portions. Eating out at lunch seems to mean larger portions than I would eat if I brought lunch.
So, what can I bring?
I've done pretty well so far. I've only bought my lunch once per week the last two weeks now. I've eaten a lot of sandwiches, which in the past has been difficult for me to keep up with. This time around I'm avoiding most sliced deli meats, in favor of tuna or steak. I'm avoiding plain sliced bread in favor of a whole wheat bun, and I've had a few elaborate salads with either tuna salad, hard boiled egg, or salami on top. I've also had a pasta salad. Most days I've grabbed my packed lunch and headed over to the University Village near UCI and had a lovely lunch on the outdoor patio/seating area.
One of the best lunches so far has been a cold steak sandwich. It came from a sort of combination of Evan's spinach salad, a Grilled Steak Sandwich recipe from the August issue of Bon Appetit, and a boring cold steak sandwich I'd made a couple of weeks ago.
My boring sandwich was just that, boring. It was essentially some leftover fillet from the night we'd made beef carpaccio on a leftover roll. Nothing else was really on it, but the cold steak was nice, but dry. The Grilled Steak Sandwich was nice, but I don't think I got enough dressing on mine, and it would be pretty difficult to grill up a sandwich at work.
I had some leftover tri-tip, and put it in a plastic bag, whisked together some seasoned rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, ground mustard, and olive oil to taste, and poured it over the meat. In another plastic bag I put some fresh spinach, sliced tomato & onion. I packed up those two bags and a whole wheat bun.
I didn't even put it in the refrigerator when I got to work. When lunchtime rolled around, I began toasting the bun, opened one corner of the meat bag and poured the dressing and juice into the spinach bag. I tossed the spinach bag until the bun was done toasting, and assembled my sandwich, leaving half the salad as a side.
Oh my was that tasty! I will definitely have to have this again, maybe with plain old sliced roast beef if I don't have leftover tri-tip.
We'll see if I can keep this up now. I'm sure I saved myself some money this week, and probably ate healthier than I normally would. I'll need more variety soon enough, but soup season is coming. Now, how to keep it warm while I get out of the office...