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Hot Lunch at your Desk

What do you keep at work to make for a quick lunch on those days when you can't/don't want to go out? We have a refrigerator/freezer available here at work, along with communal microwaves. Many people keep frozen entrees (like Lean Cuisine) in the freezer, then nuke them.

I'm lucky enough to have an electric hot water pot, so I keep packets of oatmeal in my desk drawer, and sometimes meals like Annie Chun's Soup bowls -- always careful about the high sodium content, though. I'm interested in suggestions that provide variety, or recommendations for convenience products you've tried.

What's in your desk drawer? Please, no lectures/suggestions about how I could make a 3 course, nutritionaly balanced meal at home and bring it in. 1. I'm lazy, and 2. that's a whole other post!

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  1. I make 1 big thing Sunday and split it and bring it to work every day. This week is a Japanese curry recipe I found on chowhound: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/275003

    4 Replies
    1. re: luniz

      luniz: but then you have to eat the same thing for lunch day after day after day after day. I'd rather do Lean Cuisine or something of that ilk.

      1. re: woodleyparkhound

        @woodley....not necessarily would you eat the same thing day after day...if you cook up a pot of black beans or chickpeas, those can be morphed into all different lunches: as a protein in a salad...added to a broth with some veg for a soup, mashed up and spread onto a corn tortilla and topped with cheese & avocado, etc....same with a roast chicken made on Sunday, it could be chicken salad...chicken added to a green salad...well, you get my drift.

        1. re: Val

          Did you all miss the fact that Patticakes said she doesn't want to cook at home and take it to work?

          1. re: dmjordan

            please excuse me, dmjordan...I was responding to woodleyparkhound, not OP. Thanks.

    2. Since my office's neighborhood is surrounded by fast food restaurants, I usually bring in a nice big salad for lunch. For hot meals, it's usually something left over from last night's dinner, e.g., chili, pot roast and veggies, and I nuke it in the microwave.

      1. I work a job where I can rarely leave the office for lunch. Additionally, I have dinners out a lot of nights, so I'm not at home making myself a meal to bring in. Sometimes I have leftovers, but most days I'm stuck trying to cook something at work.
        I have, at my disposal a fridge, microwave and a toaster.
        I have become the self-proclaimed queen of the microwave.
        I don't want to hear how I'm radiating myself, there are worse vices than microwaving some lunches.
        Now then, I most often will make myself an egg sandwich, I scramble eggs, microwave them in a bowl, toast some bread, cut up some tomatos and basil and voila. On some days, I include a side of vegetarian sausage, microwaved, or, when I want to torture my coworkers, I microwave some bacon.
        I also will keep a can of black beans on hand. microwave those and add some taco seasoning. Add salsa, lettuce, sour cream and you either have a taco salad or a veggie burrito. Works wonderfully, especially on my whole wheat high fiber tortilla, so I feel like I'm getting "healthy" Mexican food.
        I also, will microwave a veggie burger too, from time to time.
        Oh, and pre-made soups, preferably from some nearby markets, not from a can.
        Happy improvising!

        2 Replies
        1. re: hyacinthgirl

          I just have to say, hyacinthgirl, that you're amazing.

          I mostly make a big thing of rice every couple of days, keep a frozen bag of veggies in the freezer, nuke them both, and apply some sweetened soy sauce. It's not fancy but at least it'll last me until I get off work.

          I also keep a swiss army knife and a jar of peanut butter on hand, and bring in some apples to cut up if I start getting hungry again in the afternoons.

          1. re: evejou

            The Amazing Hyacinthgirl! I like it. Now I just need a cape ; )

            Very good call on the rice and I need to eat more veggies anyway, I'll try that one next week!

        2. This is intriguing. It reminds me that my dad gave me a bunch of MRE’s he got during hurricane Charlie.

          Some of those were Just Add Hot Water:

          http://www.packitgourmet.com/Just-Add...

          1. Keep potatoes in your drawer and frozen birdseye veggies in cheese sauce in the freezer... bake the potato in the microwave add the veggies in there the last few minutes, split open the potato, top with the veggies and cheese sauce and VIOLA (lol) you have a healthy hot lunch

            (hey, don't judge... when I was poor and single it was better for me than eating ramen!)

            5 Replies
            1. re: cgarner

              I never thought of microwaving a potato, but that's a great idea.

              1. re: PattiCakes

                we mostly get lunch brought in to work from the pharma reps but if we don't I frequently nuke a potato and bring some canned tuna and mayo to mix in, or just some cheese. I have done the pot noodle ramen things (3 for a $1) on occasion, sometimes I make a sandwich, or I bring home cooked leftovers.

                1. re: smartie

                  Yes, there are also single-serve tuna salad packets sold in the stores now...I tend to stick with the sardines & kippers for the better Omega 3 yield but those tuna packets can be very handy.
                  AND +1 for the microwave potato idea...super! I usually bake mine over the weekend with whatever dinner I might be using the oven for...and bring 1/2 of a sweet or white in to combine with a green vegetable, but you can surely nuke a white potato in what, 4 minutes or so...just make sure to poke a few holes in it first.

                  1. re: Val

                    Love the potato idea.

                    But I worked in an adjoining cube with a guy who was into sardines . . . the smell was so bad we teased him every time he ate it. But levity aside, I had to leave when he ate those sardines. Tuna was ok, but the sardines were really smelly.. Luckily he took our hints and tossed the sardine can as soon as he was done in the outside kitchen.

                    1. re: gaffk

                      hmmm...I work with someone who said she hates sardines...tried one time bringing them to my desk (unannounced of course...LOL) and she later said she could *not* smell them...mine are in olive oil which I drain off (but I don't rinse them)...oh well...that's my own experience anyway...thanks, gaffk!