Avoiding the “Eating Out at Lunchtime Crowd”

Today I ate my breakfast at work, and it was so easy – and it was for free! But why is it that I find it so hard to eat my brought from home lunch at work? And more importantly, how can I get over this?

My colleagues constantly ask me to go out to eat with them. They eat out every day as their main meal of the day – even the interns!) While it’s nice to be included in the group, I think it’s lunacy. For example, we have a new intern just started this week and I feel like since she doesn’t know anybody that I should bring her out to eat on her first day. That was on Monday. Then it happened again on Tuesday, we’d a day off Wednesday, then on Thursday again… and tomorrow is Friday. I don’t want to eat out every single day!!! So I had a little google around for some inspiration to break the chain and avoiding the “Eating Out at Lunchtime Crowd”.

I came across this website, which had 8 tips for not eating out at work. My favourites were:

  • No. 6 Calculate your hourly rate of pay and then how long it takes for you to earn your lunch.
  • No. 7 Calculate the cost of a home-made meal.
  • No. 3 Take a tip from a smoker and go cold turkey.

Calculating my hourly/daily rate is an eye-opener – I’ve to work at least a half an hour to an hour to pay for my lunch!

Calculating the cost of a home-made meal is also a reality check! I calculated that our chicken saté meal we had tonight and last night (with red peppers, breast of chicken, mushrooms, peanut spice gado-gado included) that made 4 meals (twice for 2 people) cost approx €1.77 per meal. Nothing like sobering cold, hard facts!

There is obviously at least one sane person in the building – I saw a great idea in the communal fridge this morning- a thawed-out, home-cooked wild rice meal with broccoli and other veggies in a ziplock bag on top of a small tupperware box with some chicken inside. Great idea for planning ahead! And looked a lot tastier and healthier than the tasteless “pumpkin soup” i paid €4.20 for. And was still hungry after.


  1. I remember when I was in college, way back when, I was a smoker and enjoyed the time in the break area with all the other smokers. When I quit, cold turkey, on a break I had the hardest time avoiding the smoking area. I wanted to be with everyone else, but it was too early in my process to be able to sit there with them. I started to go outside on breaks. No one joined me and I felt so alone.

  2. Oh, I can relate to this struggle. When I was working full time, my schedule was 2-10pm. This meant that the work meal was dinner and not lunch, which made it even more difficult to abstain from going out… especially since we were in walking distance from both a fabulous Mexican and Italian restaurant.

    I think that for me, the hardest part was that going out felt like a fun break in the day. It got me out of my office where I could relax and socialize with other people. But if I brought my dinner I’d end up eating at my desk and basically working straight through – no break, no socializing, no fun!

    I found a few things that really helped. One was to get away from my desk. We had a cafeteria/cafe downstairs, so if I brought my dinner down there to eat, I could always find somebody else who was “brown bagging it” to sit and chat with while I ate. Another strategy was to use my dinner break as a time to call and chat with CatMan. I’d close my office door and eat my dinner while we talked on the phone – that way I felt like at least I got a break. If I did end up eating at my desk and working straight through, I tried to find some other opportunity to get out of the building for a while… take a walk, or go run some errands.

  3. The phone call idea is great, thank you, definitely for a rainy day. especially since I also get €5 worth of free calls a month in work too!

  4. I can imagine how it was, because as a lifetime non smoker, I have always thought of the smokers as having more friends! Or at least they’re their own group with their own code.

    You did very well to quit yourself, that’s an achievement! I think i’ ve never had the money to be a smoker- although they always seem to find it somehow!!

  5. When I smoked packs weren’t yet $1 each. It’s amazing what it costs to smoke today. Although I grew up when doctors told you it was safe and my doctor would sit down and offer you one during your visit. How far it’s come.

  6. In Germany the cheapest pack is around €4.20 a box ($5.40 USD) and in ireland they’ve apparently reached €9.10 for a box of 20 (so says politics.ie) – that’s $11.59!!!

  7. Aside from making smoking very expensive, they also banned it in bars, restaurants and workplaces which has had a big impact on reducing the amount of casual smokers. There is also a similar smoking ban in Germany, but amazingly is more relaxed than Ireland! Advertising cigarettes is also almost completely banned in Ireland but is allowed with restrictions in Germany.

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