When I lived in Des Moines and worked at a law firm downtown, I was pretty good about bringing my lunch to work. I lie. Actually, I lived in a downtown apartment and would walk back to reheat leftovers or occasionally I would sit in the skywalk Bruegger’s Bagels and sip on some hot soup – but that was once a week, if that. And then when I moved back home, I would always drive a few blocks back for my mom’s cooking or walk a few steps to the sandwich shop nearby.
Now, my lunches take a little more planning. Since I have a 30-minute commute (by train and walking), I either have to spend a few extra minutes at my apartment assembling a sandwich or throw a Lean Cuisine haphazardly into my lunch bag. By the way, is anyone ever satisfied by one of those frozen meals? Seriously, it would take at least two to calm the hunger pains in my stomach midday. In the past couple months, I have been great at packing my meal, as my morning schedule routine didn’t seem to change. I’d throw in a beautifully built sandwich, an entree from the crockpot or Papa John’s pizza from last night’s takeout. Most of the time, I’d bring food back home to bring back the next day.
Lunch places around Battery Park have been sparse since the hurricane, but the numbers are larger each week. And while the deli, soup restaurant, and grilled cheese specialty shop are quite lovely – they also wreak havoc on my tiny pocketbook. Looking for a sandwich? Make sure to have 10 bucks or more, and that is not counting your side, drink or tip.
So I usually limit my Chipotle run or Potbelly splurge to once a week, but lately, I’ve been absolutely horrible at it. With all the wedding planning, my sleep patterns are pretty off. That means, I wake up usually an hour later than usual, still tired, and sprint around the apartment to try and get cleaned up before work. If I remember to throw in an oatmeal packet for breakfast and a stick of string cheese in my purse, I’m lucky. Some days I will get by at work on a package of chips or trail mix from the vending machine, but other days, it is likely that I go to the diner for some comfort food – usually mashed potatoes and whatever panini or wrap looks good that day.
My wallet is chock full of receipts from going to this place and that, and I end up feeling guilty after counting up each piece of paper. When I had an individual checking account, I would look at my bank book and total it up and say, “Never again.” This would be followed by a couple really good weeks and then a downward spiral. A cycle of cravings. Now, with a joint checking account, I feel pretty damn awful when I’ve enjoyed consecutive days at Lenny’s, Subway and Hale & Hearty (their tomato-cheese soup was made by some sort of god, I’m sure of it.) While N is busy making his PB&J’s and hauling his all-day food fest from the train to Newark.
I can’t imagine spending $30-50 on lunch during a five-day span (unless I’m on vacation somewhere), but I totally have. Combine that with happy hour drinks or dinner dates, and you’ve got quite a hefty food bill. This weekend, on top of my wedding To-Do’s and the pileup of thank you’s I’ve still to write, I’m hoping to get this whole cash for burritos thing under control.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who gets stressed over their lunchtime spending.