How To Break The $12 Salad Cycle When You Work In An Office

By | Tuesday, December 02, 2014


Scene: 2pm, your desk, you’ve just finished a semi-soggy sad salad from Chopt/Just Salad/Pret/an interchangeable clone thereof.  You are filled with 1) nominally more sustenance; 2) infinitely more regret resulting from blowing $12 on a “meal” consisting of little more than grass clippings and buzz words (Organic! Local! Sustainable!).

I too have been a long time victim of the $12 Sad Salad Cycle (“$12SSC”). It’s incredibly easy to fall into this trap of throwing $$ on mediocre convenience, especially when this is The Thing to do as a young urban professional (yuppie, if you will) lady.  Right?

WRONG! Friends, it is time to put down the organic-local-sustainable kool-aid and start embracing the Tupperwear instead. Over a year, you can save over $1,500* if you bring you own lunch 4 times a week! We will allow Fridays to be Wheels-Off-Friday, to be blown on a lunch that you will smugly enjoy after a week of fiscal responsibility.  This means more dollar$ for your weekend boozy brunch, $30 spin classes, Sephora habit, or if you want to get really crazy, your diversified investment portfolio consisting of indexed funds calibrated for your risk tolerance!

Let’s start with a gateway lunch this week – Soup. Soup is your friend.  It’s cheap, easily adaptable/scalable, and ideal if you live in the frozen Northeast tundra.  Invest in a few of these bad boys. Or mason jars, if you want to be extra smug and have zero concerns for your spinal health (i.e. – glass is heavy, plastic is not.). Pack half your soup in individual containers for lunches this week.  Freeze the other half, again, in individual containers, for future lunches.  This way, you avoid the self-pity spiral resulting from eating the same damn thing every day.

Here’s a recipe for Butternut Squash/Apple Soup. It’s delicious and dirt cheap. And you know, super food, almost non-fat, blah blah blah.  Basically, smugness in a bowl.

1 Butternut squash (the ready shopped/peeled kind is fine and saves you potential emergency room bill$)

1 Apple, peeled/cored/rough chop

1 Onion, peeled/rough chop

½ Tsp dried thyme

Broth of your choosing (chicken, veg, water if you’re in a pinch)



  1. Combine all ingredients from butternut through thyme, add enough broth/water/liquid to cover everything by like ½ inch.
  2. Bring to boil. Turn down heat to simmer (little bubbles). Cook until the squash falls apart when you poke it with a fork.
  3. Puree with an immersion blender or in a blender. Please follow the instructions that came with your appliances and blend responsibly. This money saving exercise fails if you maim yourself in the process.
  4. Taste for seasoning; add salt/pepper as needed.
  5. Cool, package, enjoy! All measurements left vague intentionally, this ain’t rocket science so use your personal judgment/preference in how thin/thick/sweet/salty you want your soup.

*Savings of $1,560 based on the following assumptions:

  • $12/day lunch ($48/4 days of lunches)
  • $18/week on groceries needed to prepare 4 days worth of lunches. (ESTIMATED! Please don’t email me telling me that $18 buys 2 dust bunnies and 1 tissue at Whole Foods! That’s untrue, you can also get at least 3 plastic forks in addition.)
  • $30/week savings. Prorated over 52 work weeks in 1 calendar year = $1,560

Image: Culicurious

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