I have a lunch problem.
Most food-related things, I am rather fond of. Cooking, restaurants, wine matching, food writing, even grocery shopping.
But lunch. Lunch is the most chore-like of meals. Lunch is eaten not for the joy of it, but merely to fill that biological urge. Lunch lacks fun.
At least, my lunches do. Usually.
Breakfast has the issue that occurs in the morning—not my favorite time of day. But it’s pretty much the highlight of the morning. It inevitably includes coffee, that most wondrous of beverages, both drug and hydration and fine flavor and aroma. And while it’s fairly routine in its contents compared with supper, it’s a nice little roster I work my way through:
Berry banana smoothie with side of toast and almond butter
Bob’s muesli, warm, cooked in skim milk, served with banana and berries and brown sugar
Egg, poached or scrambled, served with whole-grain bagel and Spanish olive oil, with tomato or oranges
Granola with yogurt and banana
And on weekends, I sometimes get crepes with fruit and maple, cooked for me.
So, breakfast is a good thing.
And supper… Well, supper is variety and relaxing with a glass of wine and discussing the day and catching up on news. This, after preparing it while singing and dancing around the room to whatever tunes the iPod is serving up that day. Supper is a good thing, also.
By comparison, lunch is a drag.
It features no great beverage
Breakfast gets coffee; supper gets wine. Lunch? Water. Maybe with bubbles, if I’m lucky.
It’s an annoying interruption in the day
But isn’t a nice to have a break in the middle of the day? Sure, it’s OK, but wouldn’t it be nicer to leave just leave work a half hour or hour earlier? Which I could do if I didn’t have to stop for lunch partway through. (I just am not one of those people who can survive from breakfast all the way til dinner. No way, no how.)
Even on vacation… Lunches are generally more pleasant, but still. You’re trying to do stuff during the day. Visit sites and museums and go on hikes and take tours. And always, you have to worry: Where will I be when breakfast wears off. Your activities are limited by proximity to lunch, and the need to spend time on that in the middle of the day.
I suck at menu planning for it
I realize this is my totally own fault, but there it is. I’ve got breakfast down. And I plan my suppers a week at a time, bolstered by recipes indexes, and thereby achieve a weekly menu with variety and (I think) balanced nutrition and great taste.
But lunch… Often it’s just a rerun, either a supper leftover or a heartier reprise of breakfast (an omelet? Just scrambled eggs with an extra egg and maybe some cheese and veggies). But after so many years of cooking for two, we don’t always have supper leftovers, and if at the office, I can’t really be blending up smoothies and frying up eggs (given there’s no blender and no stove top there).
Your “proper” lunch foods are what: soups, sandwiches, salads? I love soup, and for a time attempted to make soups on the weekends to serve as a series of lunches, but I don’t always like devoting time to that. (Interrupts the middle of my day—again!) Sandwiches I’m a bit sick of after getting nothing but that during my schools years (probably where my disdain for lunch began), plus I just don’t like luncheon meat. And salads are as much work as soup, but not as satisfying to eat.
It wrecks my good dietary intentions
Because I’m so bad I’m menu planning for lunch, I end up having to rely on convenience food, like frozen dinners. Apart from being kind of dull, and fairly expensive for what you get, it’s really difficult to get one sufficiently low in sodium, that uses whole-grains and includes vegetables… And forget about organic or “humane-treated” meat. I try to get the best of the lot (Lean Cuisine steamers, and Amy’s organics), but it still sure ain’t homemade.
And so, I kind of hate lunch. And yet, I just can’t get through my day without it. I’m the midst of making a bit of an effort again, buying things like smoked salmon and bean salad and organic soups that are convenient yet nutritional. And I’m bolstering those with Greek yogurt and trail mix.
It’s never going to be my favorite meal, but perhaps I can make peace with it. We’ll see.