If we had the budget and the time, we’d all love to pick at multiple-course meals at a streetside café over a leisurely lunch hour – or two – during the week. But the reality is that deadlines and budgets need to be met, and that means eating at the office. Don’t lose hope, however. We have some handy tips to help you whip up tasty meals in the communal work kitchen.
It makes a big difference having decent seasoning. If you’re anything like Eat Out staffers, you’ll look down with derision on anything that isn’t sea salt, i.e. those horrid white towers filled with chemical-tasting crystals. Coordinate with your colleagues to buy communal grinders for good-quality salt and pepper.
Don’t try to decant them into dribbly Tupperware bakkies. Just buy one each for the office and let them live there – well labelled, of course. (Especially that sriracha.) If you need ideas of how to keep wandering fingers out of your food, read these classic passive-aggressive notes.
It’s quick and easy to ‘poach’ them in the microwave. Online editor Katharine Jacobs recommends the following: “The key is to crack the eggs into a bowl on top of some veggies – or something that provides liquid – so that the eggs cook evenly. Chopped baby tomatoes work, so does baby spinach, and pesto is really great. It takes 90 seconds in our microwave, but would be quicker in a more powerful one. Always use the plastic hat [protective cover], or risk a messy explosion. The egg yolks do occasionally explode, so it’s good to check around the one-minute mark if it’s going okay.”
Just make sure you also have a tin opener. (There are no hacks for that… )
For higher-grade salads at work, prepare in advance (or just buy) some grated cheese, toasted seeds and nuts, or croutons for sprinkling into your salad. This poor man’s parmesan is delicious, and a cake of dry ramen (aka two-minute noodles) crumbled into a salad adds good textural dimension.
These babies are great for crisping up slices of leftover pizza or already-assembled cheese sandwiches. Begone, foul microwave sogginess!
A sachet of good dressing can rescue a can of chickpeas, nub of cucumber and handful of leaves and transform it into a tasty, tangy salad.
A squeeze of honey livens up bland bowls of oats or granola, and can sweeten the deal for salads. Plus, everyone knows you can’t drink rooibos with sugar.
Try to sneak into the kitchen just before the mad scramble, or wait until just after lunchtime ends. Enjoying an unobstructed path to the cutlery drawer, fridge and microwave is key to maintaining civil workplace relations with your colleagues.
Not only because it can be dangerous to warm up food in plastic, but because it just feels better to eat off a proper plate, with a fork that won’t snap as you try to spear a cherry tomato.
If you don’t have an office rest area, find a spot on the rooftop balcony or walk across the road to sit on that bench under a tree. It will make a world of difference to leave behind the recycled air, ambient hum of florescent lights and the worrying ping of your inbox filling up.
Don’t put fish in the microwave. Ever. And don’t drain your tuna on the washing-up sponge in the sink. I condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms.
Don’t abandon your chicken bones for someone else to scrape bin-wards. Wipe the counter and return your plates to the kitchen once you’re done. If anything, be even tidier than you would be at home. We’re all silently judging you.