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Old 03-12-2009, 06:35 PM   #1
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Do you bring your lunch to work or eat out?

Up until now, my company has always provided lunch for its employees- its been just a soup and salad bar, but its been kind of a luxury as most companies would never do that. However, in this new economy, they are cutting out the free employee lunches to save money, so I will have to decide to either bring my lunch or get take out.

We'll have microwaves now at work, but I don't care for frozen dinners, so unfortunately I may end up opting for take out most days. My fear is the high-fat of most take-out and I just lost almost 40 pounds and I don't want to start gaining weight again.

So, What do you all do for lunch during the work week? Has anyone opted to bring their own lunch to save money or calories? Are there any good healthy take-out ideas?



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Old 03-12-2009, 07:05 PM   #2
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We (read: I ), pack our lunches during the week - mostly sandwiches. I buy the bulk bags of chips, fruit cups, fruit leather and granola bars. I take a frozen meal on Fridays a lot of the time. With the newer organic rice and noodle bowls out there in frozen foods, there are some tastier options.

Another option might be to make your own frozen meals by preparing your favorite meal(s) and dividing it up in freezer containers and freezing. You can add your own sides based on what sounds good. If you really like the salad, it's amazing how cheap a bulk bag of lettuce is.

Hope that helps!

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Old 03-12-2009, 07:44 PM   #3
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Flourgirl... The company I worked for in NY had a soup and salad bar at one time (I don't know if they still do though), but it wasn't free. Sometimes, they offered two choices for a main meal (ex: Spaghetti or fried chicken) or you could get the salad bar. The only thing bad about that was they weighed your salad. With vegies and prepared salads (macaroni, potato, fruit, etc) that added on the cost, big time! I usually got the bare-bones tossed salad (lettuce greens, cheese, croutons, and a maybe sparse vegetables).

After that, they found a local guy to cater the lunches. In the warmer months, he would actually have grilled main entrees (italian sausage hoagies, hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken). In colder months (and it gets COLD in NY state), things like homemade mac-n-cheese or beef stew were the choices.

If you didn't want that, they had a wide array of vending machines that offered canned soups, bottled drinks, packaged sandwiches/salads and even fruit (that was done by the local food distributor).

The company I work for now in WA state doesn't have any of that... just snacks and sodas for the vending machines. I usually bring leftovers from the night before or a soup that I made previous (that was frozen in individual-size containers). We have 2 microwaves for the whole company to use to reheat things. I'm a big salad fanatic, and that is my most common lunch, with cottage cheese or fruit (usually an apple or banana) with bottled water. I seldom bring sandwiches, unless they are wrap sandwiches. I love to use burrito-size tortillas for wraps (vegie, tuna, turkey, meatball, etc).

My best advice for you, since you don't want high fat, is to stay out of the vending machines. When you make it yourself, you have an idea of what goes in it. If you love salad, you can get soooooo creative with it, depending on what you like. Pasta salads are also a favorite of mine.

My BF, Mark, is fussy. He usually gets a regular sandwich (tuna, peanut butter and jelly, or some other deli meat with lettuce and tomato). I don't like including tuna or meat sandwiches without lettuce or tomato....seems too blah. With that, I give him a pickle, fruit (grapes, apple or banana), chips or pretzels, something sweet like a cookies (not now, though, as he was just diagnosed with Diabetes--I'm still trying to meet that challenge), and bottled water.

Speaking of wrap sandwiches again, you can make those ahead and freeze them. All you have to do is decide on what the filling is going to be. Microwave your tortilla for 20 secs (depending on the oven), so it's soft. Add your filling, making sure it's not too much. Roll it egg roll-style, and wrap it with either plastic wrap or foil, then put in a freezer bag. Depending on the size of the bag, you can fit a few in one bag. Take it out the night before, and you have a delicious sandwich! If I have something like meatballs or sausage in my wrap... I'll microwave it at work for 1 min, so the cheese melts! YUM!

Anyway, Flourgirl, I didn't mean to ramble on. I tend to do that sometimes. JM had a good post, also!

Coming back to add. I don't know what places you have around you that offer take-out, but most have healthy sandwiches, soups, salad, or even combo-meals. We have ordered chinese and gone to Jack In The Box.... both are not good ideas for low calorie/fat. Check around and see. Most places offer menus to take. Post one at work, so others can order too. In NY, there was someone that always went around with a take-out menu, took orders, gathered money and the business delivered to us. That was great, but it wasn't always healthy. Make it a group thing.... that's always fun!
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Old 03-14-2009, 02:09 PM   #4
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I like the idea of bringing leftover soup to work. It would be so easy to just pour it into a microwave container and out the door. Soups and stews are my favorite, I love making them.

Near my work, we have no delis, but we do have a chinese place, a pizza-by-the-slice place, a Burger King, Wendy's and McD's.
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Old 03-14-2009, 06:03 PM   #5
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I would opt for making my own. Sandwiches are versatile and there's always the option of plating up leftovers to take in the next day. There are lots of options besides the take-out fast food. I'm sure it will be difficult to start but after a while you'll learn what you like. Will you have the space for other appliances? My DH is considering taking a small rice cooker that he can make a serving of rice with veggies added for lunch. That might be an option as well.
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Old 03-14-2009, 06:21 PM   #6
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Too bad there is not a Subway near your office, FlourGirl. Their salads are reasonably priced. There sandwiches are also good value, plus you get the sticers for a free one eventually.

Happy cooking, Marty.
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