After years of freelancing at home on the "mommy track," I returned this fall to full-time, drag-your-butt-into-the-city-every-day work. And the biggest shock to my system? Not the busy pace, not the grueling subway commute, and not the inconvenience of changing out of my pajamas every day. No, the biggest shock was how much money I started shelling out on lunch.
Did you know that two-thirds of American workers spend $1,924 a year on lunch? CHOMP! I think I just lost my appetite. And the worst part of it is -- just going by taste, it's hardly worth the money.
Maybe it depends on where you work, but here there seems to be an inverse relationship between the quality of available food and the number of office workers in a given area. As in, the more of us there are, the lousier the options. All the cheap and delicious food is out somewhere else. Here in Midtown, we're surrounded by fast food and those overpriced salad/sandwich/soup megaplexes that specialize in $7 bowls of vaguely-balsamic disappointment.
That's where I was getting my lunch most days my first few weeks back at work (except for the amazeballs Korean fried chicken place I'm still trying to forget about for my thighs' sake, sigh). It's not that bad, I guess. In fact, having that instant lunch a block away can be a huge time-saver, and I can see how it's worth it to a lot of people. Those salads taste perfectly fine at first. But after a while they begin to taste all the same. AND THEN THEY BEGIN TO EAT YOUR SOUL.
Meanwhile, because my husband and I like to cook (usually), there's all this good food at home -- in the form of dinner leftovers. So I've ditched the $7 salads for leftover Tuscan white bean stew, enchiladas, and roasted cauliflower. I still use the saladsmorgasbord down the block for emergency days. But count me as a worker who won't be part of that $2,000 statistic.
Do you eat out for lunch? What do you usually get?
Image via Matt Seppings/Flickr
Going to baseball games
Riding bike rides in the nice weather
Playing outside after work/school
Going for walks outside