Five solutions to the sad desk lunch

Yes, it’s a meme, but sad desk lunches are also a tragic part of office life. Here’s how to avoid them—and why you should

(Photo By Lyn Alweis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

You shouldn’t eat lunch at your desk. Really, you just shouldn’t.

The sad desk lunch—wilted greens topped with uninspiring bottled dressing, coffee pot-ramen (yes, someone actually did it), almost anything involving lentils—have become a meme, thanks to brand strategist Kira Fisher, who curates a Tumblr devoted to the internet’s most pathetic midday meals. But they’re also a, well, sad reality for many office workers. A 2017 study from Dalhousie University found that 39% of Canadians eat lunch at their desks, despite ample research that leaving our desks make us healthier, happier and more productive.

Need more proof? Okay: sitting has been linked to obesity and “metabolic syndrome,” which consists of a cluster of related ailments, like high blood pressure and sugar and elevated cholesterol. Leaving your desk at lunchtime—yes, to eat, but maybe also to take a quick jaunt around the neighbourhood? —can help to combat the detrimental effects of sitting too much. Add to that the fact that mindlessly munching while staring at your computer screen can lead to overeating and  increased snacking later in the day, and it’s clear that there are health benefits to taking a real lunch break.

And there are professional benefits, too. In most cases, having a “work wife” or “work husband” actually increases productivity, not to mention job satisfaction, which means it’s worth heading to the communal kitchen or cafeteria to eat with our colleagues. There are benefits to dining solo, too. Never taking a break from thoughtful work “actually reduces your ability to be creative,” Kimberly Elsbach, a management professor at the University of California, Davis, told Fast Company in 2015.

So, step one: try these inspiring lunch ideas, courtesy of our friends at Chatelaine:

Make friends with salad

Face it: dressing your salad at home usually leads to wilted lettuce, and packing the dressing in its own container usually leads to greasy spills. The only solution? Ditch the greens in favour of these lettuce-free salads.

Wrap it up

Put the dry ham and cheese down. Instead, try one of these 10 next-level wraps. Sophisticated flavours, no-cook options and no fork needed? Sign us up.

Cheat meal

Spruce up a grocery store rotisserie chicken. Bonus: these 10 ideas also work for dinner, if you’re the two-birds-one-stone type. 

Bowled over

Try a bowl. These healthy one-dish meals are still trendy (if you care about that sort of thing), but more importantly, they’re convenient.

Batch, please

September always feels like a new year, even if you’re not sending any kids back to school, so make the most of that newly-organized energy and try some batch cooking. From veggie-friendly stews to effortless risotto to oatmeal (because no one wants a sad desk breakfast, either), these slow cooker and Instant Pot-friendly recipes make mornings way easier.

As for step two? Easy. Leave your desk.