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Mastering Lunch “Al Desko”

Eating lunch at desk

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich at your cubicle, reheated soup at your desk, a protein bar stashed in your desk drawer.  These are all variations on “lunch al desko,” the refined lunch enjoyed by employees around the world who are too lazy to take their meal to the break room or too busy to buy food.  I first learned about “lunch al desko” from the Bon Appetit Foodcast, the weekly podcast released by the Bon Appétit food magazine (which you can download for free through our database Zinio!).  Host Adam Rapoport breaks down the best containers for bringing your lunch to work, essential ingredients to keep at your desk, and a few classic meals to get you started. 

Bringing your lunch to work requires some preparation and foresight.  It all starts in your home kitchen and refrigerator.  Some of Adam’s pro-tips are:

  • Buy several spices and condiments to keep at your desk to enhance whatever dish you bring.
  • Make large servings of a grain or protein to use in multiple lunches throughout the week. They’re not leftovers; they’re “next-overs!”
  • Find one versatile ingredient you love that requires little preparation, and research as many variations of it as possible. 

Here are some good reads to help you up your family’s lunch game:


The Little Book of Lunch: 100 Recipes & Ideas to Reclaim the Lunch Hour by Caroline Craig

Caroline Craig is the lunch queen. In this beautiful little book, she compiles simple yet elegant lunch recipes. She claims that lunch “al desko” can be one of “life’s greatest pleasures” and features impressive sounding recipes (like Tomato, Pesto, and Goat Cheese Tart) to get you started.

Funky Lunch: Happy Food for Happy Children by Mark Northeast

Kids’ lunches aren’t what they used to be. Gone are the days of mac and cheese and jello. Kids now eat quinoa and organic fruit leather. Mark Northeast set out to revisit classic children’s lunches channeling 80s and 90s food nostalgia with funky shapes and characters.

Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunch Box with More than 160 Happier Meals by Catherine McCord

Popular mommy blogger Catherine McCord believes in simple yet delicious recipes. In Weelcious, she compiles easy recipes with every day ingredients that fit perfectly inside a lunch box.

Vegan Lunch Box around the World: 125 Easy, International Lunches Kids and Grown-Ups will Love! by Jennifer McCann

Who says vegans can’t have delicious lunches? Jennifer McCann sets out to shatter all vegan stereotypes in this colorful cookbook that will even capture the interest of omnivores.

The Frugal Foodie Cookbook: 200 Gourmet Recipes for any Budget by Alanna Kaufman

Maybe peanut butter and jelly isn’t your thing and you’d like something a bit more sophisticated. The Frugal Foodie Cookbook has you covered and you’ll impress your coworkers with fancy dishes like Honey-Thyme Pear & Goat Cheese Sandwiches.

Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked--and Fried, Too! : A Celebration of Potatoes in 75 Irresistible Recipes by Raghavan Iyer

If you’re a one-ingredient kind of lunch-eater, might I recommend the potato? Let Master Iyer guide you through the magical world of potatoes. He’s an award-winning chef and educator and he will even trick you into eating potatoes for dessert, like in his mouth-watering recipe for Chocolate Sweet Potato Pound Cake.

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