I used to bring my own lunch to work back in my office days, and boy did it make me a bit of a freak. People always raised their eyebrows just a little when I mentioned that I packed my own lunch, probably dismissing me as some ultra cheapskate (not wrong) or a health freak. Still, that strategy helped me to keep my workday lunches at around $2 to $3 a pop, and provided way better nutrition than any hawker centre could have.
It’s easy to wax lyrical about the benefits of bringing your lunch to work, but the fact is that most people just aren’t motivated enough to do it. Eating last night’s leftovers just doesn’t do much to entice, especially when we’re talking about a limp packet of McDonald’s fries or 7-11 sandwiches Here are four strategies that will make you actually look forward to preparing and eating what you bought.
Get a cool bento box
Ask any ang moh what they bring to lunch and 9 times out of 10 they’ll tell you they eat sandwiches. Here in Singapore, packed sandwiches conjure up bad memories of those sad little white bread ham sandwiches your mum used to stuff into your lunchbox in primary one.
Chances are you’re going to be packing rice, noodles, pasta or salads for lunch. Using a cool bento box makes a lot more sense than relying on paper bags, and are nicer to eat out of than tupperware. The shape makes it easy to lift them with one hand as you eat, and they often come with forks or chopsticks.
Best of all, you don’t even have to spend very much on them. Daiso sells cute bentos for $2, as well as a variety of matching chopsticks and cutlery. Otherwise, Muji makes microwaveable bentos in a variety of styles and volumes with cutlery that attaches to the lid and a little bag to stash them in.
Copy Fresh+ or Salad Stop
If, like me, you’re not about to fire up the wok to make lunch for tomorrow, take a leaf from the book of salad shops like Fresh+, Salad Stop or Sumo Salad.
These eateries are basically the Subway of salads, and a big batch of vegetables, pasta, brown rice and eggs are prepared in advance and thrown together in seconds to make the salads that customers then pay upwards of $10 for. Add a dash of sauce and your’e good to go.
It’s fairly easy to replicate what these shops do—prepare a batch of vegetables in advance, store them in the fridge and then you can make your lunch in seconds for the next few days.
Mimic airplane meals with multiple components
Few of us have the time to make a beautiful main course to take to work. Eating a tupperware of salad, fried rice or bee hoon can seem a little insubstantial, especially if you have a big appetite.
To make your lunch more appetising, do what they do on airplanes—even if the main course sucks (and let’s face it, it’s usually disappointing), there are a few other segments to keep you busy. There’s the bread roll with butter, a salad on the side and dessert.
Some quick and easy sides you can pack with your lunch might include some fruit, a cup of yoghurt, a bag of ready-made salad from the supermarket or some biscuits or cookies. The variety can be extremely motivating, stopping you from feeling like you’re depriving yourself of a decent meal.
Pick a nice location for lunch
There is nothing more miserable than eating in front of your computer screen, where you already sit for at least 8 hours a day, breathing in the stale air left behind by your coworkers.
Explore the area around your workplace and unless you work in Chernobyl, you’re likely to find a pleasant, quiet spot to enjoy your home-cooked lunch.
If you work in the CBD, check out the area in and around Ann Siang Hill. Try the benches on the slope that goes up to PS Cafe, many shrouded in plants. If you’re in the Boat Quay area, eat facing the river near the fat bird statue. If you’re located close to Chinatown, the rooftop garden of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is a beautiful if kitschy spot, and you also get to spin the prayer wheel to improve your karma.
How do you motivate yourself to bring your own lunch to work? Tell us in the comments!