Take Your Lunch to Work Week

There comes a point in a your life when you must rely on yourself for food.

You could argue that this occurs around age two when a baby ceases to rely on its mother for food but in reality this happens around age twenty-one. You’ve graduated college, maybe moved in with your parents for a summer to save enough money for first month’s rent on an apartment and half the Ikea catalog.  Then you move out, get a job in the big city and there’s no more parental subsidies and you don’t have to buy your meals with a dubious point system from your university cafeteria.

In short, you’ve grown up. So let’s say it’s three, maybe five years into your new adult life, maybe you have an apartment with friends or nice, quiet strangers from craigslist. You’re doing well for yourself. You have a good job, friends to go out with and a comfortable place to live. You look forward to your low-key Friday night at the local bar where you now know the bartender and are rewarded with a free shot once in a while. You wake up starving on Saturday and meet up with friends at your local brunch spot. Maybe you order a Bloody Mary to go with your salmon Benedict.  Food’s pretty good and sends you straight into a three-hour nap. You wake up a few hours later, shower and get dressed. Maybe you watch an episode of Arrested Development or Breaking Bad. Then your boyfriend or girlfriend calls, they want to go out for a nice dinner. So you meet up at the new place around the corner from his or her apartment that you read about in New York magazine. There’s a bit of a wait. “Fifteen or twenty minutes,” the hostess says. “But you’re welcome to have a drink at the bar.” You order your favorite, a Negroni on the rocks, and your other half, well they take way too long to look at the beers on tap or the wine list, finally settling on the Blue Point like you knew they would because it’s a dollar less than all the other beers. Finally your table is ready. You each order a main course and split the prosciutto-wrapped figs.

The food’s good, maybe even great. And when the bill comes, you thrown down your identical red Bank of America debit cards to split it because you don’t live together yet and it’s neither of your birthdays. You sort of regret ordering that second glass of wine because it’s a little more than you wanted to spend, but it’s Saturday and you worked a lot this week. Then it’s either home or to a friend’s party. You should probably bring something to drink but you aren’t great friends and you don’t want to stay that long. So instead of getting a six-pack of Smuttynose IPA, you each grab a PBR tall boy.

The party is fun and you run into some old friends but still you don’t stay long. The wine from dinner made you sleepy.

Then it’s Sunday. You wake up feeling groggy. Brunch seems like too much of an effort so you have a smoothie and a latte. It’s a nice day so you walk around a bit. Then suddenly it’s 4pm and you don’t know what happened to your weekend. Panic sets in. The workweek is starting in less than 15 hours. You check your wallet. All your cash in spent. You check your bank account; the balance is about $300 less than you thought it was. So much for a nice relaxing weekend, now you’re f****** broke.  How are you possibly going to feed yourself on less than ten dollars a day?

Well, I’ll tell you. The secret is making dinner at home and taking the leftovers to work the next day. It’s not hard and you’ll cry with joy about the money you’ve saved. You must start on Sunday to get the heaving cooking out of the way.

What will you be eating for lunch exactly? Well, an amazing array of healthy, delicious meals that YOU made and not some crappy sandwich or “Bento Box” made halfway around the world, freeze dried and reheated.

Take Your Lunch To Work Week

Sunday

Chickpea Curry with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Monday

Chickpea Curry with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato, beet, arugula salad + roasted Salmon

Tuesday

Sweet potato, beet, arugula salad + roasted Salmon

Kale Salad with Sushi Rice and Kimchi

Wednesday

Kale Salad with Sushi Rice and Kimchi

Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Thursday

Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Tuna and Couscous Salad

Friday

Tuna and Couscous Salad

chickpea coconut curry

Chickpea and Coconut Curry with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Makes 2 portions

You will need:

2 medium sweet potatoes, washed and scrubbed (if you want to make things easier, roast an extra sweet potato and 2 beets for lunch later in the week)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon butter

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon (or less if you don’t really like it) freshly grated ginger (use a sturdy box grater)

2 cups baby spinach

1 14 oz. can light coconut milk

1/2 14 oz. can chickpeas, rinses and drained

1 small onion, chopped

1 lemon

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil (I like to buy these at Trader Joe’s)

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (or regular paprika)

herbs to garnish (cilantro or Italian parsley)

salt

Method:

1. Heat your oven to 375. Place the two racks in the middle of the oven and a large baking sheet or baking dish on the lower rack. Place the sweet potatoes, naked, on the upper rack. This method allows them to roast perfectly and the tray below catches any liquid. Roast for about 45 minutes.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot with a heavy bottom over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 3 minutes until translucent. Then add the garlic, ginger and sun-dried tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Using a microplane grater or zester, zest about half the lemon into the mixture (about 1 teaspoon of zest).

3. Add the chickpeas and butter. Cook for another 5 minutes until the chickpeas start to brown. Then add the 1/3 the spinach and wait for it to cook down before adding the rest.

4. Next add the coconut milk, paprika and the juice from the lemon to the pot of chickpeas. Cook on low heat for another 10-15 minutes. Add salt to taste.

5. When the sweet potatoes are ready, cut them open before serving and spoon the chickpea mixture on top. Top with more paprika and chopped cilantro.

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