Stories / Guides and Tips

How to Avoid a Sad Desk Lunch

Hilary Deutsch

September 14, 2017


Sick of the same boring lunch you bring to work day after day? Trust us, we’ve all been there. To help you improve your homemade lunch game, we’ve enlisted some of JBF’s most creative lunch-bringers for tips, recipes, and more on how to make your midday meal an enjoyable experience—even at your desk.

Maggie Borden, Associate Editor

I’ve been known to bring soup for lunch even into the summer. My favorite way to pack soup is in a Corningware Soup Mug—it’s ceramic so it heats up well, and there’s even a vent in the lid so you can avoid splattering split peas all over the office microwave.

I’m very serious about prepping lunch for the week on Sundays so I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat when I’m getting ready for work in the morning. Here’s a taste of some of my favorite recipes:

I’m also a big proponent of having a well-stocked snack drawer, in case the lunch you make ends up not being filling enough. Dried fruit, raw almonds, and the occasional Lara bar serve this purpose well.

Mitchell Davis, Executive Vice President

My favorite lunches are made from leftover dinners, so my first piece of advice is to cook too much the night before. I have favorite containers which are these blue and white Tupperware bowls I got years and years ago. I only have three. They are the only plastic, lidded containers I have ever known to really be leak-proof. 

I like to keep my lunch at room temperature. I’m generally opposed to refrigerating my lunch between the time I arrive in the morning and the time I eat it. So many things taste better at room temperature. Bread and sandwiches are better, fruit tastes better, cheese and cold cuts taste better. This I believe to be true.

Any fresh vegetables that I want to use to garnish a sandwich (lettuce, tomato, cucumber slices, bell peppers), I always pack separately. I just assemble the sandwich before I eat it to avoid sad, soggy bread.

Eden Kanowitz, Event Marketing Manager

I try to pack everything in Pyrex glass containers—they clang around in my bag, but allow for a nice pack-at-home/microwave-in and eat-out-of-at-work/plop-in-the-dishwasher-at-home loop! I have three different sizes, of which at least one always seems to work for my lunch needs.

I'm also a cook-everything-on-Sunday person. Usually I'll go to the farmers’ market by my apartment on Sunday morning and pick up a big assortment of whatever roasting-worthy vegetables I can find. I keep it simple and just toss everything together in olive oil, salt and pepper, and whatever extra seasonings I have on hand, and roast for about 25 minutes in the oven. I'll usually pair the roasted vegetables with my favorite grain of the moment: right now, it’s quinoa or farro.

In the summertime, I like to stop by the Union Square farmers’ market on my way to work and pick up whatever delicious salad ingredients I can find (read: tomatoes). I bring everything back to the office and make a SUPER fresh salad.

For in-between bites, Trader Joe's is my go-to snack purveyor. My favorites are their Just Mango treats (dried mango without any added sugar) and the tiny, single-serving packs of chocolate-covered almonds (they're only 99 cents, AND they help facilitate portion control 😉).

Victoria Jordan Rodriguez, Director of House Operations and House Events

I like to make big batches of soup on Sundays for my husband, Rob, and me to eat all week. I almost exclusively use deli pint and quart containers because that’s what I used when I worked in restaurant kitchens and they’re perfect for pre-portioned servings.

Emily Rothkrug, Impact Programs Associate

I tend to spiralze a lot—things like zucchini, sweet potatoes, or broccoli stalks are great. I love this Food52 recipe for Spicy Thai Carrot Noodles. It's much lower maintenance than it looks! And you can pretty much use the sauce for anything, not just spiralized vegetables. Bolognese is also really easy to make, and always tastes better the next day!


Hilary Deutsch is digital media coordinator at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.