What are Your Lunch Hour Frustrations???

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on June 7, 2010

This is what lunch usually looks like for me. A salad with leftovers (grilled chicken and peppers, in this case). Or just plain leftovers. And if I’m really feeling unmotivated. PBJ.

For me, lunch has always been the “most frustrating meal,” and I have come up with quite a few tips and tricks to help streamline the whole lunch prep and experience for us.

But we are each in unique situations and while I have played the SAHM, WAHM and part time working mom roles in my life, I am missing the “full time work outside the home mom” part. And of course the “dad part” too.

Here’s where I need your help. In order to make sure I’ve got ALL the bases covered in the next cookbook, I’ll need to hear your experiences.

All I want to know is what frustrates you about lunch. That’s it!

What is the most frustrating part about lunch…packing it, preparing it, spending too much on convenience foods, lack of creativity, lunchbox getting lost in the office fridge?

It’s time to let your lunch hour woes be known!

{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

Jamie June 7, 2010 at 7:44 pm

My most frustrating thing about lunch is that I work in childcare, and here in Canada, most childcare centres are Nut/Peanut free. I find this very limiting, as my favourite lunch leftovers are thai food, and I do actually enjoy PB&J.

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Leah June 7, 2010 at 8:35 pm

My lunches need to be easy to pack, easy to eat at my desk while pumping, and I need to include more vegetables. If I’ve got leftovers, I will eat them. Hubby won’t eat leftovers so he goes out most days – not too good for the diet or budget. It becomes too easy to eat processed food – Lean Cuisine meals, granola bars, oatmeal packets, yogurt, popcorn…

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Erin D. June 7, 2010 at 8:55 pm

The worst part about lunch is the preparation….I always think I should do it the night before, but then with everything else I never do. Plus lunch always seems to sneak up on me and the kids are hungry and I’m scrabbling to get it out on the table. So for me I would love to see some make ahead ideas with variety.

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Clara June 7, 2010 at 9:22 pm

I am a home health hospice nurse which means majority of my lunches are eaten in the car while going from patient A to patient B. Try to pack interesting meals and not go through drive thru. Gets difficulty to have something besides sandwiches day after day, since I am driving I need one hand meals. Also, it is now summer in Oklahoma, very difficult to keep food cold even with a good cooler to store the food.

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LaToya June 7, 2010 at 10:27 pm

My biggest challenge is that I get bored eating the same thing over and over. But with my budget and limited time I often throw my food budget more to dinner than to lunch. For my kids they are so picky that they eat the same 3 things in rotation.

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mwa June 25, 2010 at 1:38 pm

thats disgusting! and that is bad parenting! you suck
try these friendly ideas:
poop
bugs
worms
dirt
sand
glue
@LaToya,

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Laura June 7, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Lunches used to be easy meaning leftovers. But with a husband, 14, 10 year old and a one year old, we no longer have leftovers, not a big deal in the school year. In the summer I need quick ideas that both a teenager and a one year old can eat.

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Shannon June 8, 2010 at 12:07 am

This is a great discussion! I am working on having my children (13 and 10) pre-pack most of their lunch the night before. One child has a favorite sandwich and sometimes I will make it the night before. My other child goes for more variety – yogurt, bagel with PBJ, or PBJ. In the winter I will give them soup or leftover spaghetti in a thermos. They seem to enjoy that. I tend to run out of time when it comes to me. I am content with PBJ, fruit and something else. Sometimes I will pack a few snacks. My DH is now at home and fends for himself. However summer is coming and I will need to have more options that don’t require cooking or thinking. Lunches on the weekend are just much work and I really don’t want to be in the kitchen. My creativity goes out the window when it comes to lunch so any thoughts are welcomed!

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Laura June 8, 2010 at 12:26 am

about 2-4 days a week I am a substitute teacher so I pack myself a lunch the night before. i need it to be portable, quick and convenient. i don’t always have access to a fridge or a microwave, so i stay away from those meals. i have been eating deli meat for the last, probably 6 months straight, gross. I am sick of deli meat- i hate it- i do not want to eat it all summer. plus, i have been reading about the benefits of being a flexitarian (part-time vegetarian) and about how the chemicals (nitrates, also in some hot dogs!) increase your risk of colon cancer 21% for every 1.7 ounces eaten daily. YUCK! And with cancer running rapid in my family, the last thing I need is to increase my risk of anything!
So HELP! I need something HEALTHY, quick and yummy to eat on my 20-25 minute lunch breaks! I know you can do it!!
Thanks Erin!!

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Alison June 8, 2010 at 7:50 am

I have to have a hot lunch. Even if I am going to have a salad like your pretty picture, I want hot chicken. I don’t have time with a little one running around to make a hot lunch for myself unless it is a lean cusine that I microwave. I also hate making the kitchen a mess because that is another thing that I have to clean up while it is nap time because I have to be ready for dinner. We gave up on eating out after having a little one to save on the budget and to try to be more healthy but it causes more time in the kitchen doing dishes and other food prep stuff. I would love something healthy and hot for lunch :)

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Penelopelephew June 8, 2010 at 8:06 am

Well, the LC are expensive and uninspiring. Eating out takes too long and it crazy expensive. I’ve had my lunch eaten by someone else (group fridge/freezer). Generally, it’s just that I don’t plan ahead and figure out something good and nutritious the night before so I’m left coming up with it on the fly–not a good plan for the diet or the budget. Ideally, this would be the best meal of the day, but w/o DS and DH I just don’t make the effort–that and I know I’m eating big at dinner b/c I have my boys with me then. Much more fun to eat with others.
Lunch-time is also rife with running errands (sans DS), getting haircuts, trying to crochet a moment in peace, trying to read something entertaining in peace…it’s just a loaded time, and not just food-wise.

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Lori June 8, 2010 at 8:33 am

I’m a SAHM, and my biggest frustration I think is preparing lunch. It seems like it sneaks up on me. By the time I start making lunch, we’re already starving!

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Rachel June 8, 2010 at 9:02 am

I love homemade leftovers but I need my lunch to be “lighter” than our dinners generally are (my kids and DH do not care how many calories are in their dinner, they just want it to taste good). I am a full time work outside the house Mom and do not want to waste my food budget eating out every day. I do eat Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice when I can get them for less than $1.00, but the sodium levels keep me from eating them every day. I would love to eat for less than $1.00 a day on foods I can pre-prepare when I’m home on the weekends and have it keep in the freezer or fridge for me to grab on my way out the door. Even though I work full time, I like to eat as frugally and healthy as I can for lunch!

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LisaE June 8, 2010 at 9:26 am

This question got me thinking and realize that during the summer, I rely too much on canned pastas or frozen meals (we do love Lean Cuisines). Lunches need to be fast but don’t want to feed my girls too many sandwiches during the summer since they eat cold lunch 99% the time during he school year.
Like many, more time and thought goes into what t make for dinner…..we don’t “do” hot or bologna type food…..we are not into leftovers much so choices tend to be limited.

This is a great question and I realize I need to put more thought into what to make for lunches once school is out….something much more healthy than what I had previously thrown together.

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Cindy June 8, 2010 at 9:37 am

Lunches can definitely be over complicated, but with a full time career and as a full time mom, mornings can get a little hectic. Leftovers work, if there are any; – there are sandwiches, if we have lunch meat; frozen entrees (but those get old) and sometimes you aren’t even hungry when you are leaving that lunch is the last thing on your mind and you just decide to “wing” it. (Always the wrong move!!!)

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Barbara June 8, 2010 at 10:35 am

My biggest frustration is trying to come up with something new and different to pack for my husband and the children who are in school. The boys (9, 7, 5) usually end up with PBJ, raisins, chips or pretzels and a cookie. My husband doesn’t take a lunch break (if he’s not working, he’s not getting paid) so he eats on the job site or in the work van while driving to another site, and needs something that’s easily popped in while multi-tasking. The youngest, who’s 3, and I end up with more variety because she and I are home during the day. Some easy, tasty and fun ideas to put into lunch boxes would be a blessing :-)

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Colleen June 8, 2010 at 8:39 pm

I’m a Part-time WAHM, work at clients/SAHM, I eat breakfast around 8:00 and we eat dinner between 5:30/6:00. I’m don’t get hungry for lunch until about 1:30/2:00, so I just end up snacking on cheese and peanuts because I’m afraid if I eat a full meal I won’t eat dinner with the family. We almost always have leftovers, but they hardly ever appeal to me (and besides, those are my hubby’s lunch!). Now with the kids home for the summer (ages 10 & 12), I don’t want the usual chicken nuggets, frozen pizza junk for any of us. They are the usual picky kids. Fruit always works, but we have difficulties agreeing on the rest of the meal.

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Karen Schwabenland June 8, 2010 at 9:37 pm

The most frustrating part for me of packing three lunches is the packing part. I pack three lunches every morning, one for myself (a full time teacher), and one for each of my two children. I have been keeping this ordeal going now for almost 18 years! Our lunches get so uninspiring that I look for inspiration in the packaging of the lunches. In my pantry right now there are about ten different styles and varieties of lunch boxes. I buy them whenever they are on sale, or when weeks of the sheer boredom of it all have set in. The lunch boxes are all unisex, meaning that any one of us can take any of the lunch boxes on any given day. It also helps to have back ups as they tend to get left at school.

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Michelle June 8, 2010 at 10:25 pm

So my delmia is always size & weight. Especially since i use ice packs. I do this for several reasons. Its more efficient to just have my lunch at my desk & avoid wasting time with questions being asked in the break room. My job has me offering a lot of feed back & so whenever i leave my area i get bombarded w/ questions. So this makes its simpler & i don’t have to worry about my food getting taken. The down side is that i have to make all my lunch plus my ice packs fit. :( & at first i questioned my amount of food, but it was really just the containers i was using. I have purchased smaller containers & use mostly baggies for everything else. So between more waste & wishing my lunch box itself was an icepack too that i could just empty n toss in the freezer at the end of the day, I’m just left hoping i can make it lighter & less bulky.

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Angelica June 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm

I work at an office 8am-5pm Mon-Fri. My biggest frustration with lunch is making time in the morning to pack something. If I don’t bring something with me, I end up eating out and I hate having to do that…both for health and budget. I sometimes make time the evening before to pack something but usually I’m too busy or tired or stressed to want to think about it so I end up either rushing out the door with no lunch or spending maybe 2 minutes throwing in some leftovers, a fruit, string cheese, etc whatever is quick and easy. I know I should get up earlier so I have time to pack a salad or something a bit healthier but I can never seem to stick to it.

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Elisabeth June 10, 2010 at 11:32 am

Before I got married I used to have interesting lunches–homemade salads, etc. I miss those so much! Now I always have leftovers and sometimes I have the same leftovers a couple of days in a row! Lunch can be so boring sometimes.

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Jena June 11, 2010 at 1:21 pm

The most frustrating thing about lunch is what to feed me and the kids (i have 4, 5, 3, 2, and 2 months). I don’t want to spend a TON of time in the kitchen, but need something quick and nutritious that isn’t’ PB & J. I send the leftovers with my husband and my mom…that way i know they get a decent meal without eating out.

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Ginger June 12, 2010 at 8:31 pm

I just did a post today, with 43 different suggestions for new, creative lunches! I was bored with my old lunch standby (turkey sandwiches), so some research and some brainstorming… check them out and feel free to copy galore!

http://sweeticedtea.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/43-brown-bag-lunches/

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