Category: Working Lunch

Laura and her Coworker Lunch Share

Working Lunch – Week 2

What a week.  As you may recall I was planning the twins’ Not Pinterest Worthy Bday, and work was crazy busy.  I actually was really glad to have my lunch share for a few days because it was one of those weeks I didn’t even feel like I had time to leave my desk to go GET food.  One of those weeks where you look at the clock and it’s 2 pm and you haven’t eaten yet…

So here’s a quick recap.

Day 1 (Steph)

She made an awesome Chicken Waldorf Salad from Paleo Plan.  Now, obviously the delicious slices of whole wheat bread from Great Harvest are not Paleo … oopsies.  Alas, we are not going to fit into a “100%” anything diet anytime soon.  Basically we’re looking at the ultimate GNP style lunch.  Whole food, short list of ingredients, meets the lunch share rules.  Check out those beautiful sliced tomatoes from the garden too.  Yum yum.

photo 1

Day 2 (Steph)

Day 2 was a bit of a debacle.  Steph forgot our lunch share at home and so had to run home and get it.  We’re talking like 25 minutes away.  This is a girl who takes the lunch share seriously.  I probably would have trudged downstairs to the “trough” (aka our building’s basement, no windows, dungeon-slash-cafe) for a salad if not for her sticktoitiveness.   So she got our lunch, but after all that, she forgot the extra apple that the recipe calls for.  No worries on my end, it was actually even a bit better the 2nd day.  And do you see that dessert?  Um yes, the most delicious pineapple I’ve had this side of Maui (from Whole Foods).


I know the above picture may be slightly shocking.  Only one slice of Great Harvest bread for me?  Well that was the plan.  I dutifully placed the other slice aside to enjoy an “open faced sandwich”.  But then around 3pm the extra slice was still sitting there staring at me, so I put it out of its misery.  It was the humane thing to do.   #carbivore

Day 3 (me) – Slumgullion

This is sort of a favorite catch-all recipe for when my husband’s traveling and I need to make something one night to last big sis and I several days.  The sauce consists of

  • 1 lb of browned grass fed ground beef (I buy it frozen from
  • 1 chopped up pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 handful of mushrooms  

To this veggie concoction I added 1 whole jar of store-bought low ingredient pasta sauce.  This pasta sauce is Bertolli Organic Basil & Garlic and it actually tasted really good (mind you, this Organic, low ingredient sauce was purchased from a conventional grocery – it is possible if you employ Mindful Label Reading!).  They even carry this particular sauce at our local Walmart.  Proof you don’t have to go to Whole Foods to be goodnotperfect.

Anyway, I used 1 whole box of gemelli pasta (one of the pastas shown here).   I cooked it al dente.  I poured the entire sauce mixture onto the pasta and mix together.  You will end up with one giant bowl (scientific measurement) that equates to about 8 servings (and I mean real people servings, not ingredient box 1 spoonful type servings).

I had made this pasta concoction on the prior Saturday and then froze two individual portions, already in the lunch containers (I continue to be inspired by Lisa).  I even remembered to take the lunch containers out the night before my lunch share and let them thaw.  Whew.

Unfortunately, the next morning this amazing memory of mine failed me.  I literally backed all the way down the driveway and realized I had forgotten to finish and pack the rest of the lunch.  Didn’t even have them in the car.  Would have been a downstairs “trough” day for us (I told you, it was that kind of week).  I couldn’t let that happen.   So I threw the van in park, ran inside, cut up a cucumber (creative, eh?), put a dash of vinegar and a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper on it.  And cut up an organic apple for us (from TJ’s).

Voila, a complete lunch, all compiled in literally 96 seconds.

My coworker told me her mom used to make something like this and called it “slumgullion”.   Heretofore I have called this pasta with meat and veggies.  Henceforth, I shall call this slumgullion. 


Day 4 (me … More KALE!)

This was not my favorite kale salad.  Oh why, oh why did I dare stray from the two salads that have treated me right!?  This was sauteed veggies and wilted kale with grated fresh parm.  Despite sounding gourmet, it didn’t hit the spot quite like the other Two Kale Salads I make repeatedly.  But I must. keep. trying. more. kale.

I added some leftover chicken thighs I had thrown in the slow cooker using my go-to “base” recipe.  I put a few ak-maks as “crunchies”, and a half of a cherry pie larabar as a dessert.

photo 4

Bottom line, we survived a crazy week.  Well fed, pretty healthy overall if you ask me.   And no visits to the trough, despite a few close calls.

Recap of week one:  Here

Anyone else have a coworker they are going to share lunches with?

Happy Lunching,


Laura Sig

Working Lunch – Week 1

Last week week my coworker and I started the challenge of our “lunch share“.  

Day 1:

We started out the week with the now famous kale salad, of course.  We both enjoyed it.


Then I knew I got to sit back for the next two days and let someone else worry about what was for lunch.  Frankly that’s the worst part about the cooking / shopping / eating routine for me … the decision making.

Day 2:

On Monday, before leaving for work, my coworker had put a whole chicken in her crock pot.  The plan was to use this for various things at home and for us throughout the week, starting with Tuesday’s lunch:

Lunch 1-2

As shown above, she just brought some simple pulled chicken, a few tomatoes from her garden, and some basil she walked over in the wee morning hours and stole from her neighbor (although before you call the police, I’m pretty sure they have a sort of mutual understanding).  She rounded it out with a few slices of Goat’s Milk Mozzerella from Whole Foods (um can you say gourmet?  Yes, I think I’ve created a monster).

Day 3:

For dinner Tuesday night, my coworker had repurposed the aforementioned chicken into a dish for us carbivores … namely a mushroom pasta with chicken.  She had caramelized some mushrooms (which you can easily ad-lib, or if you’re a stickler for following directions, here you go) and tossed it with some specialty mushroom pasta from her Farmers’ Market (this was a splurge – $8/lb) and some of the leftover pulled chicken.   Then she kept the leftovers from Tuesday night for our lunch on Wednesday.   This is definitely a super exciting use of the chicken.  Again, there she goes with more stolen basil.

lunch 1-3

Disclaimer:  GNP does not condone stealing herbs from neighbors.

Day 4:

Sorry, but you will forever be left wondering what could have been with the rest of the Chicken That Never Ends … because Thursday meant it was my turn again.  Uh oh.  At about 1 pm on Wednesday I realized that my lack of a real grocery trip this week might limit my options (seems to be a consistent theme at GNP, right Em?).  I have been to my Happy Place (aka Trader Joe’s) for a few appetizer type things and some half n half, but as is typical, didn’t really think ahead and get anything really “lunchy”.  Good thing I had an extra bunch of kale and a well stocked pantry.   And some random avocados.   Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  Yes, an excuse to make The Only Other Kale Salad I Know.  This one was the very first kale salad I ever had, and I can’t take any credit for it.  The hiccup with this recipe is always the avocados.  I always have trouble finding them not too firm and not to soft.  It requires either very careful advance planning (maybe you’re capable of this), or sheer luck (my style).  In my willy-nilly produce buying, I have discovered that if you buy enough avocados, one of them is bound to be ripe at the right time.  Although, not necessarily great advice, because by the same token you probably will throw 1 or 3 of them out every now and then too Here is my masterpiece.


P.S. In case you’re wondering, GNP did not steal any of the ingredients in the above salad.

All in all, a successful week.  I did a bit more work, but spent much less money, on lunches over the course of the week than I normally would have, and ate better food (homemade is hard to beat).  I clearly need to think ahead next week, but at least I am only on the hook twice.  My coworker is obviously better than I am at creating leftovers, repurposing leftovers, and remembering to grocery shop (oops).  Honestly, this was a fairly typical week for me in that I did a few little one-off trips (including my random Farmers Market trip), instead of a single respectable (cohesive mix of vegetables-meat-dairy-bread type) trip.  One minor disappointment is that with my Trader Joe’s trip, I actually paid for some grape tomatoes, when I think her neighbor may have had some in her garden … stolen tomatoes would have definitely tasted better.

Happy lunching,


Laura Sig

Not so Wee-but still Delicious

The blogging community certainly has rallied around its computers to share recipes, advice, and products galore designed to pep up our kids’ lunches.  Some great new cookbooks like weelicious and other real food websites are out there full of ideas for beautiful, healthy lunches packed with love.  And they have inspired me.  They have me fantasizing about the day that I will carefully wrap my daughter’s hummus-carrot-tortilla-wrap in the shape of sushi with a defrosted home made smoothie pop,  home grown berries, and vegan 3 ingredient raw brownie bites in her cute little lunchbox.  Right?


via Weelicious

Or at least get something, including some veggies, in a lunchbox during the morning rush.

Here’s the thing.  On a typical morning, my husband and I head to work and my daughter heads to a full day preschool with a fairly organic, albeit too processed, but decent lunch and snack menu.  We scramble around each morning just trying to get the twins fed, my daughter dressed and fed, then to get ourselves dressed for work (and sometimes fed) before my hubby leaves for the train and my 4 y.o. and I head out the door at 7:30.

So my more pressing problem is what the heck am I going to eat for lunch?

Fast forward to 11:30.  My coworker of 9 years and I have this conversation daily.  It goes something like this.

Me:  What are you doing for lunch?

Her: Today I brought my lunch. But I don’t really feel like eating it.

Me: Well, I didn’t bring one, I was going to head out for Gyros an organic field green salad, wanna go?

Her:  Well, I wouldn’t mind getting away from my desk.

So off we go.

I am about 10 years into my journey of label reading and organic-loving, and she is about 5 months in and recently has become more aware of our somewhat messed up Standard American Diet.   So, now we’re pointing in the same direction.  I personally have recognized that a majority of my “failures” come from outside the home (not in the products I buy at the grocery and eat at home).  She wants to learn more about what to buy and what not to buy.  We both are sick of our existing lunchtime routine.  So here’s our idea.  We will pack each other lunches 2 days a week.  That’s 4 days a week of home made lunches!

Do you know how exciting this will be?  Ok, so I doubt I’m going to get personalized toothpicks or notes tucked in my lunchbox (I can only dream)…



I mean I do need a confidence boost around 1 pm or so…but anyway, note or not, 2 days a week I will get the excitement of being delivered something to eat without utilizing a single brain cell for its procurement!  Plus, when it’s my turn, isn’t it always more fun to cook for someone else (that’s what I’m telling myself at least)?

We wanted rules that would keep us somewhere of the equivalent to walking distance from a salad bar  and a long road trip away from Chicago deep dish pizza.  I knew I wanted to try to stick to the beautiful Mediterranean food pyramid on my days.  After some back and forth, here are our proposed guidelines:

1)      Nothing with ugly long ingredient list that includes things we couldn’t have in the pantry at home.  No HFCS.  No artificial dyes.  Try to avoid most common GMOs in the main meal (ixnay on the corn, soy).  We decided that a caveat to the “# of ingredients” mantra could be condiments, used in moderation.

2)      Must. Include. Veggies. Somehow.  Organic for dirty dozen.


3)      Real dairy only, and in moderation.  I know perfect would be milk from grass fed, pastured cows, but it’s surprisingly hard to find.  I did find one farm that makes products available at Whole Foods stores in the Chicago area.  Good alternatives when looking for dairy are either store brand organic, or this common supermarket brand for butter or cheese from Ireland, where their “regular” cows are mostly grass fed.

One of my favorite salads is a raw kale salad that is Asian inspired, which I want to share with her as my first lunch.  Post to follow.

One down, 25 more ideas to go.  I knew my recipe hoarding would come in handy eventually.

Are we carb free? Dairy free? All organic?  Nope.  No, not going to be a realistic goal for this working mom who is lucky to remember to put on deodorant every day (and who loves bread).  But will save us $ from eating out, we will get to enjoy food together (a principal tenet of the Mediterranean lifestyle), and will hopefully make us feel better come 3 pm.  Especially if we have that inspirational note to pin up. 

Laura Sig