What your sad desk lunch says about you
Ah, tuna salad again, Simon?
You know what, work is hard. Work is hard and long and depressing, and sometimes we need something to get us through. It doesn’t come from salad, juices, coffee or fucking quinoa. It comes from pizza. And actually, having pizza for lunch is pretty brave (unless it’s the leftovers from last night, in which case your tummy will be full of both carbs and sadness). Strolling into the office armed with a piping hot rubenesque from Voodoo Ray’s is courageous and ballsy. Did you get a garlic dip? Yeah, I bet you fucking did, you little scamp.
Times are tough.
Times are really, really tough.
Homemade soup and you don’t even have a baguette with it
T i m e s a r e t o u g h.
You got a spiraliser for Christmas.
A chai-tea latte and a salad from Starbucks
You went out on a limb and ordered full fat milk in your latte – it is Friday. But you’re not an absolute animal, so went easy on the lunch front by getting a salad.
Crisps, a bar of chocolate, and a milkshake from Tesco
You know that saying, “if you like school you’ll love work”? I bet you didn’t really love school, and you don’t love work, but you definitely can’t accept the passage of time. And so you reason: if you invest your break with some nostalgia – a pack of Milky Way Stars, or a banana Yazoo – then the rest of your day will be easier to swallow. The girl you like might pass you a note. After the meeting, you might get to do that thing from PE where you run under the rainbow flag. What this optimistic eater doesn’t consider is that your metabolism slows down as you age. Put down the Boost, or you’ll end up looking like the kid with “asthma” who always had to sit on the side and lost every team race at Sports Day.
Tesco’s meal deal
You’re concerned about finances and want to be thrifty, but not quite enough to save that £3 and make your lunch at home. You kind of like the variety, but let’s be honest, you go for a BLT, bag of crisps and bottle of Coke of every day. There’s no shame in that though: you’re a creature of habit, and at £3, you’re willing to indulge yourself in that comfort every day.
A whole fucking pie and mash from EAT
You’ve gone and done it, haven’t you? You weren’t deterred by Steven on your left eating a superfood salad, or Laura on your right who sits on an exercise ball the whole day – nothing was going to stop you from getting a whole fucking pie and mash from fucking EAT, and demolishing all 3,370 calories of its gravy-sodden goodness. You know what? Good for you. We need more people like you in this world.
A microwaveable bag of quinoa and an avocado
It doesn’t taste like much but you’re being healthy and that’s all that really matters. You’ve got the discipline to eat this every day, which is commendable, but you’ll jump ship as soon as the next healthy “superfood” is discovered. You’re also seriously considering a juice fast but can’t bear the judgement you’d get from your colleagues.
Alice doesn’t eat meat, dairy, animal by-products or anything with a soul. She’s a level seven vegan. She’s got a streak of blue in her hair (the rest is shaved) and she wears a T-shirt which says “the future is female”. She hates commercialism, imperialism, cissexists and gentrification. She likes Bikini Kill and Brick Lane. Alice doesn’t buy juice. Instead, she makes it at home (and pretends she doesn’t do it in an expensive Nutribullet – a present from Mum for Christmas). It contains ginger and kale with a tangy lingering note of sanctimonious chat. Alice’s breath smells bad and she’s got a tiny bit of apple peel in her teeth at all times, but you are afraid to tell her.
You’re not fooling anyone, this isn’t a proper “business lunch”.
You really fucked this up, didn’t you? Too health-obsessed to eat at Eat, too money-conscious to go to Pret, you may as well starve. Sure, the queue was shorter than the one in Itsu but there’s a reason for that: nobody likes Pod.
Your idea of sushi is less of the uncooked fish, more of the salad and edamame beans. You’re not wrong, but you can’t really go back to the office and say, “I got sushi”.
You cheeky bastard.
A salad from Nando’s
You’ve missed the entire point of lunch AND Nando’s. Don’t come into work tomorrow.
Anything from a street market which costs more than £6
You’re being paid too much.
Fish and chips
We all went out last night.
A Brick Lane bagel
This isn’t New York, and you’re not a Williamsburg barista. All you’ve done is bought a sandwich with a hole in it and covered your American Apparel corduroys in cream cheese.
The trick is to ask for a regular and then when they go to put the chicken in ask for a large. They skip out the rice and just add more chicken.
Jesus Christ it’s a Wednesday. I know you stayed late to work on that paper but this isn’t the end. We’re all here for you once you brush your teeth.
You just want to spend a fiver and it doesn’t even matter what it’s on. £3 protein pot? Yes please! Eat in for more money? Why the hell not. It’s the first shop you saw when you left the office.
A doner kebab
What the fuck have you become? Once, you thought: “I wouldn’t eat a kebab in the daytime at uni, let alone now, with a real job”. Now, here you are slobbering over a doner. Make better life choices, or spend the rest of the afternoon clutching your stomach in regret.
Leftover dinner from last night
You’re so so close to being a grown up. You think far enough ahead in the future to know that tomorrow you’ll be hungry at around midday and that’s more than most of your peers in their twenties. You’re not quite there yet though — because real grown ups don’t want to eat the same thing two days in a row. But you’re so close.
Boots Meal Deal
You know that there’s more to life than saving money, but you’re also unwilling to spend a whole fiver on lunch, and the £3.79 Boots meal deal is the perfect balance. Sushi as a snack with your nice-ish wrap? And a smoothie for the drink? You’re so very nearly fancy, but not quite. But that’s okay, you don’t mind being a cool middle-of-the-road. Invariably, you spend more than a fiver because you pick up moisturiser or some Imperial Leather foamburst while you’re in there. More points for the card, you rationalise.
‘Coffee and a cigarette’
Annnnnnnnd a Diet Coke.
A Tupperware from home
We get it mate, you know how to cook a fucking bolognese. We all know how to make bolognese but what herbs do you use and do you or do you not put in four squares of chocolate with the tomatoes? You must save a fortune eating last night’s leftovers every day.
The local sandwich shop
You go here to take a stand against gentrification destroying the area you moved into four months ago. You’re on first name terms with the sandwich artist (Paolo) and like how he nods knowingly as you walk in. You don’t mind the fact he uses Tesco’s Essentials white bread and charges £4.20 for a tuna sandwich because you’re doing your bit for local business and, in the end, that tastes a whole lot sweeter.
What’s that? You’re hungry again by 3pm and want nothing more than to go to the off license next to the office and buy a sharing size bag of crisps? Well that’s what happens when you spend £4 on a bit of rice, two boiled eggs and some edamame beans.
Beans on toast
It’s the end of the month and you’ve blown your paycheck on Pret for the last 27 days so it serves you right, really. You’ll tell everyone it’s nostalgic, a real winter warmer, but in reality you’re dying inside. You vow to budget better next month, you spill your beans down your white shirt. Good one.
A salad you only get because you fancy the boys who work there
“Oh my god” you’re telling Amelia over the office Slack. “They are so fit. They’re called Charlie and Max and they’ve only just started the pop-up. They’re so nice and chatty!” “What kind of salads do they do?” asks Amelia. “Halloumi!” “Halloumi doesn’t sound that great. How much is it?” “£7.50” “£7.50?!” “No, you don’t understand, you’re not going for the salad, you’re going for the experience.” The experience of a halloumi salad.
You alright babe?
By Bobby Palmer, Oli Dugmore, Tom Jenkin, Jack Cummings, Will Lloyd, Roisin Lanigan, Bella Eckert, Lauren Raine, Cloe Fernandez Barnes, Cat Reid, Ben Clarke, Craig O’Callaghan and Daisy Bernard.