Author Topic: Balancing Physical and Financial Health with Employee Meals  (Read 3704 times)


  • Stubble
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Hey all, hoping someone can give me some advice that maybe I have overlooked.

In my current job I work at a restaurant, and we get a lunch (entree salads, pizza, sandwiches, a few other odds and ends) as well as a soup or salad for free.

We also get free beverages, luckily we are a Pepsi restaurant and I have no problem avoiding it, my temptation might be too great if we had Coke, so I stick to 90% water with the occasional Pink Lemonade or Sierra Mist.

  • I haven't paid for a lunch in 2.5 years and counting, huge savings.

  • The menu gets pretty stale after a while and you have to change it up or risk going crazy.  Because of this limiting myself the the few healthier (but not truly healthy) options only lasts a while.
  • Because I consider it part of my total compensation, to bring lunch from home is doubling my losses
  • It is definitely unhealthy, and I almost always eat too much

Some strategies I have tried before:

Get my money's worth.  i.e. Eat it all.  Certainly wrecks the second half of my day after a gluttonous lunch, although the small benefit of being full and then eating smaller dinners which helps me sleep better.

Grab a container and take home half of the meal, this helps my health, but usually results in a fridge overflowing with leftovers and a lot of waste.  Wife can take some, but we also inevitably have leftovers from dinners through the week too.

Bring a lunch, but like I said, this one hurts my brain, since I'm not only not receiving my free lunch, but paying to bring something.

Eat some, toss the rest.  I'm sure this is better for me in the long run, but I also hate wasting food.

Anyone willing to provide me with an "A-ha!" moment?


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Balancing Physical and Financial Health with Employee Meals
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2013, 07:38:10 PM »
Can you "take apart" some of the leftovers for cooking ingredients? Stouter items from the entree salads as a base for stir-fry for example, with the greens either in the stir fry or in a separate soup (lentil soup is great with greens in it). Eat something else the first day, take half home, take the leftovers back for lunch on day 2 and get the salad, but take the whole thing home for cooking ingredients.

Same idea with the sandwiches, only use the stuffing for omelettes or quiche. Toast the bread and freeze it for bread crumbs, or have it on the side with pasta or other meals you make at home. This might work best if you leave off the mayo or whatever from the sandwich, but that's okay if you're not eating it as-is anyway.


  • Bristles
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Re: Balancing Physical and Financial Health with Employee Meals
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2013, 07:54:56 PM »
Are there any ways to "create your own" lunch from what is there?  A girl I went to high school with used to do some wacky stuff with the menu at the burger king she worked at.  Maybe you could invent a new sandwich or pizza or salad?  Maybe a breadless sandwich or a soup with the sandwich bread on the side? Also this might help with waste-have them make you a half order of salad or a 1/2 sandwich small soup combo. 

I also agree with possibly disassembling.  Say you get an entrée salad with chicken and order the soup.  Eat the soup, the salad and take the grilled chicken home to start something else?


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Balancing Physical and Financial Health with Employee Meals
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2013, 03:19:27 AM »
I hope your health is worth more than a $5 lunch.  Eat the healthiest possible choices or get a job at a place without pizza!


  • Stubble
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Re: Balancing Physical and Financial Health with Employee Meals
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2013, 06:00:29 AM »
Health matters - a lot. 

I'd probably compromise since it sounds like variety is the big issue.  Maybe half the days create a big reasonably healthy meal at work.  The other half either bring a lunch or have a big breakfast and dinner and eat something smaller at work.

The money/health exchange thing is an interesting one to consider.  My wife had a relative who when finances were tough immediately quit his gym - first because of the obvious expense of the gym membership, but also because he was eating at least 500 more calories a day when exercising which cost more in food.  Hmmmm.... Perhaps it was possible for him to exercise outside of a gym and eat less expensive food?

brand new stash

  • Stubble
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Re: Balancing Physical and Financial Health with Employee Meals
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2013, 06:32:03 AM »
I understand that the pizza everyday would be quite unhealthy, but a salad and soup (if you pick a non-cream based one) everyday for lunch doesn't sound unhealthy at all. 


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Balancing Physical and Financial Health with Employee Meals
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2013, 07:42:29 AM »
I have the same opportunity / condundrum.  There is routinely free food at work and we get lunch tickets for the cafeteria if we have a lunch meeting (which is about once a week).  I like my own, healthy, leftovers for lunch.....but it's hard to pass up a free lunch!  And, I almost always overeat because they always have those damn tasty cookies and chips!

My strategy has been in the dis-assemble or take-home camp.  If I have a lunch ticket, I'll buy soup and a big salad - eat the soup on-site and take the salad home to have as a side salad with dinner.  If they serve sandwiches, there is always too much deli meat, so I take some off and wrap it up to-go and make a fresh sandwich for the next day.  I've also been known to take home leftovers from large tins of enchiladas or something.  I freeze it and have it some time in the future. 

I hate that so much food is wasted here.  Just the other day we had lunch brought in and they had way too much food for the 5 people.  Grilled chicken went untouched.  When they came to clean up, I asked what they did with it - they have to throw it out!  I got almost 2 pounds of grilled chicken that day!  Vaccuum packed and froze it for a meal in the future.

I guess what I'm saying, is go for moderation.  Combine healthy stuff with some "free stuff".  Most importantly, enjoy your food.