Saturday, June 12, 2010

Working girl lunch

So far, working for myself is turning out pretty well. For one thing, I don't have a boss. It took me 36 years, but I finally realized I have a problem with authority. For another, I don't have to attend pointless, interminable meetings, or have to pretend to be a team player. I'm not part of any team and I don't have to act like I am. I fly solo, and I like it that way.

That's just the beginning. There are about a million other things I like about working for myself, including spending about 20 or so hours a day with Frances; working whenever I feel like it, maybe early in the morning or after dinner; and guilt-free breaks in the middle of the day to swim, blog, bake, or grocery shop. And, I get to eat lunch at home almost every day.

It's not that I don't enjoy going out to lunch; of course I do. But eating lunch at home is one of the ways in which my thriftiness manifests itself. Even if I have no obvious leftovers to turn into lunch, I pretty much refuse to go out. I'll eat sliced turkey on crackers or cobble together a lettuce-less salad with celery, olives, and canned tuna, all for sake of saving money.

What a cheapskate, you're thinking. Totally. I admit it. I'm actually weirdly proud of being able to scrape together a lunch of misfit food that ends up looking pretty good. I don't know why I am the way I am, but there's no changing me. I'll spend plenty of money on dinner with the husband or friends, tossing back oysters and bottles of wine, but I'm perfectly happy to scrounge for lunch.

It's best when you have some fresh ingredients to work with to balance out the questionable food. The other day, for example,  I had some several-days-old bread, peppery arugula, and fresh mozzarella, which I thought would be a perfect grilled cheese sandwich.  Left it unattended for too long, but you have to admit this looks pretty nice.

I also had some leftover soup to go on the side. Curried cauliflower, to be specific. It was delicious the night before, but tragically unphotogenic. When I served it for dinner, I slid a spoonful of sour cream into the bowl and grated lime zest over the top, which improved its appearance slightly. For lunch, I abstained from the sour cream, but since the soup still looked like liquid cardboard, I busted out the lime again. Yes, the same lime from the night before. That's another instance of my thriftiness: I'll cling to lemons and limes as if they're the last ones on earth, until they're dessicated little nubs. The husband will periodically pick one up from the counter, half zested or split in two, and ask, hopefully, "Compost?"

"I'm going to use that," I'll reply peevishly. "I'll squeeze it in a glass of water or on a salad."

Poor husband.

Anyhow, it's amazing what a tiny sprinkling of green can do, even to a soup that lay somewhere between beige and ecru.

It's hard to rival the soup and sammie combination. They're a perfect pair. Dip, crunch. Dip, crunch. Let's zoom in on that grilled cheese for a moment.

Yes, indeed. I've gotten used to these working lunches.


  1. That first paragraph sounded exactly like my daughter. And yes, 5 years ago she went off on her own. It's been really tough and getting tougher, but she doesn't regret it.

    You and your "used" lemons was funny and so true!

  2. I do the same thing with lemons and limes. Fortunately, Evan does too :) We currently have a dessicated lemon languishing on the counter, waiting for some fizzy water or a salad. Congrats on being your own boss. I have always thought you were meant for freelance freedom.

  3. We've probably never made any of the same lunches as each other nor possibly even repeated the same lunches ourselves. BUT I use old, leftover ingredients to make lunch EXACTLY the same way you do! Must be a family thing. - Pete

  4. You musta learned the lemon/lime thing at 3797 b/c I do it too. Love the soup and sammie combo. Yesterday I too had the scroungey lunch: broccoli soup (a little too thin, but what the h) and cheese sandwich (grate all your odds and ends, mix with softened butter and chili powder: broil). Same china too.

  5. I feel the same way about working from home. I find it more efficient -- hey, I can do a load of laundry and write an article at the very same time. And yes, I've become ever so clever at piecing together things in the fridge to make a tasty lunch. Let's see, today it was Trader Joe's garlic flat bread, smeared with hummus, and topped with fresh sliced cucumber, radishes, tomato and red onion, then drizzled with garlic olive oil, fresh black pepper and sea salt. Dang, it was good! ;)

  6. Ha ha, Hungry Dog, I knew when I first started reading your blog, I felt a little connection. This post just about confirms it. I'm just one year older than you, and prefer to fly solo too. I am very proud to be thrifty yet will happily spend up big when eating out, and my leftover lemons and limes in the fridge are sometimes so dry that even I have trouble extracting the juice. :)

    Your soup and sammie combo looks absolutely perfect for a working lunch. Glad you're enjoying your new routine.

  7. Loved reading this post, which I can totally relate to on so many levels. It is nice to work independently and lunch is definitely an improv act in my home as well. Regarding not wasting lemons and limes, absolutely, there are times I'll squeeze half a lemon, but not all the way depending on how much juice I need, and still save it for another day!

  8. Barbara: I am anticipating things getting tough at some point, probably soon...but for now I am enjoying it!

    Ash: Ah, thanks :)

    Pete: The thrifty gene is strong, isn't it?!

    Jary: Are we just sisters or are we actually twins?

    CJ: I like the sound of YOUR lunch!

    shaz: Too bad we live so apart...I have feeling we would be real life friends!

    Connie: Oh, thank you!And I love knowing that I am not along in my citrus stinginess!

  9. i doubt you'll ever be able to report to someone again, and that's a-okay. :) after reading your post, the first things that sprang into my mind were mel gibson, braveheart, and 'FREEEEEDOM!'. :)

  10. Mmmm, soup and sandwich. Good times.

    Heh, I've always known I had a problem with authority. My parents told me at a very young age. ;)

  11. Dip. Crunch. Mouth watering.

  12. grace: You're probably right.

    Bob: Welcome back!

    camille: ah, thank you.

  13. I need to learn some of those thrift skills from you! I've been spending too much money on eating out!!!!

  14. Jessica: Well, I spend plenty of money eating out too. Basically I need to learn how to spend money on something besides food!!

  15. I, too am a fan of the slim pickins lunch. I try not to subject Tim to the dinner version too much. He's not a fan.

  16. Stace: I do recall that about Tim. And I have to say, I prefer the slim pickins lunch to dinner myself.

  17. Working for yourself must have all its moments - kudos on setting your pace....and there's nothing cheapskatey about taking your lunch to work. I've been doing that for 6 solid years and I have to admit I love my cooking. Like you. That sarnie with the melted moz looks yum!

  18. HD, I work for myself now too. I love it! The upside more than makes up for the downside...

    Let's talk about this lunch. Why wasn't I invited? Because this sandwich looks like the perfect grilled cheese to me. Crunchy, creamy, melting. And the soup. Dont' get me started.

    LOL, I have a whole shelf in the fridge for half-used stuff: tomatoes, lemons, oranges, onions, leeks, you name it. We use that shelf as inspiration.

    Great post!