How To Up Your Office Lunch Game

Between hitting snooze, turning on your iron, choosing your outfit, changing your outfit and blending your smoothie, who the hell has time to make lunch in the morning? You do, that’s who. Make your colleagues green with envy as you stroll into the office with swagger. And by swagger, we’re definitely referring to your super cool (Happy Days) lunch box.

We all know the drill. We know we’re supposed to bring our lunch to work and even though we see our bank account dwindling away on overpriced açai bowls and steak sandwiches, we still do nothing about it. Why is this basic adult task so hard to master?

Stop for a moment and think about how much you currently spend on buying your lunch every day. Now try to remember what exactly it was that you bought last week for lunch. Having a hard time remembering? Exactly. Save that money for the things you can actually see, like shoes or better yet… your bank balance.

This week, let’s make the impossible, possible. This week, let’s reinvent the office lunch box and make your colleagues jealous. And save the overachievement for your actual job, there’s no 6:00am wake ups here. We’re talking cheap, quick, exciting lunches and with minimal effort required. You really have no excuse.

#1 Think ahead

Next time you’re heading to the shops, stock up. BYO’ing your lunch will only be possible if you have options in your fridge and pantry. Write a shopping list of everything you want so you don’t get muffled in the confectionary aisle and stick to a plan. Who’s productive at work at 4:50pm anyway?


Your list should include things like, balsamic vinegar, feta, almonds, olives, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds, cucumber, olive oil spray, raisins, avocado, can of chickpeas and corn etc. Put this bag at your front door along with a plate and knife and fork, ready to live in your office drawer or fridge.

#2 Get organised

Once you have been to the supermarket and stocked up, decide on how many days you’ll make your lunch. If it’s three times a week then lay out three lunch boxes or bags on your kitchen counter and prep. For example, you can use your Sunday afternoons to get organised. Grill that chicken, cook that quinoa, cut that kale, then transfer everything into takeaway containers, pop into your daily lunch boxes and keep in the fridge. Not only will you feel like you’re winning at adulthood because your fridge looks so grown up, but it’ll make your Monday morning way more manageable.

#3 Think outside the (lunch) box

A salad is only as boring as the person making it. Get creative and think innovatively about what exactly you want to eat. Gone are the days of tasteless cos lettuce, tomato wedges and sliced cucumber. Let your salads reflect the multicultural world we live in.

Here are some easy ideas to get your taste buds moving:

– Canned beetroot, walnuts, goats cheese, rocket and balsamic glaze.
– Left over roast pumpkin, chickpeas, feta, olives and kale.
– Antipasti plate with prosciutto, bocconcini, olives, artichoke and sundried tomatoes.
– Peanut butter, banana and honey on top of rye bread.
– Soba noodles, red cabbage, edamame, cucumber, cashews and sesame seeds.
– Haloumi, quinoa, left over grilled zucchini and lentils.
– Arabic spread with hummus, carrot sticks, pita bread, cucumber and dolmades.
– Shredded chicken, corn, jalapenos, black beans, avocado, cherry toms and brown rice.
– Ploughman’s lunch with gherkins, chutney, baguette, cheddar cheese and ham.
– Broccoli, cranberries, bacon, blue cheese and almond flakes.
– Left over roast beef, caramelized onion, horseradish and rocket.
– Shredded chicken, baby spinach, pine nuts, artichoke, parsley and lemon juice.
– Quinoa, asparagus, left over broccoli, boiled egg and crunchy bacon.
– Chopped kale, left over roast cauliflower, turmeric, cashews and honey.
– CBF with all of the above? Avocado toast, mozzarella and cracked pepper for the win.

In need of more inspo? Check out these recipes:

#4 Cook for four

Intentionally go overboard on the portion size when cooking dinner. That left over curry, soup, stir-fry or pasta will be just as good for lunch tomorrow. Buy some durable takeaway containers and that night, transfer it into perfectly portioned lunches. Leave yourself a note on your handbag or laptop bag reminding yourself not to forget. Future you will be very impressed.

#5 Make it competitive

My Office Rules anyone? A little lunch time banter or competition never hurt anybody. Get motivated by partnering up with a colleague and take turns hosting the lunch hour break for two weeks. When someone else is going to be eating your food, you’ll naturally try a little harder (it also means you get an off day).

I see you, Manu.

Take it to the next level with a scoring system, mystery box item, cuisine challenge, novelty factor or extra points for creativity. Before you know it, you’ll actually be looking forward to your turn to smash it.

#6 Treat yo’ self

When life gets a little messy or the inevitable Friday yawns roll in, just remember the key to adulthood – WWAPD, or What Would Amy Poehler Do. Be goal oriented and after a week of bringing your own, splurge on that bento box or burrito.

You’ll have reached a new level of appreciation for Treat Yo’ Self Fridays if you’ve actually earned it. “Do you want curly fries with that?”. Yeah you do. It’s Friday, you should know where your complex carbohydrates are at.

Holly is the lady behind the food blog, The Wandering Matilda. She has spent the last five years writing and cooking across Europe and Asia. Tasting, treating, tippling and typing, Holly feels she has mastered adulthood when her butcher knows her name, she makes it in time for 6:30am yoga and can justify buying fresh blueberries over frozen ones. Follow her wanders @thewanderingmatilda.