Occasionally, (well, once or twice a week if we’re being strictly honest here) I decide to skip making a pack-up and “treat” myself to lunch “out”. I say out, but whatever I buy ends up getting eaten at my desk while I scan the BBC news headlines and wish I had a job that I could do from home. Preferably in about half an hour a day leaving me lots of time for fun stuff like napping and reading blogs. And I say treat but…well.
It was while I was standing in the Co-op earlier today, surveying the lunchtime options, that I realised a) they are not good with food and b) buying a crappy pre packaged sandwich or salad can in no way, shape or form be described as anyone who enjoys good food as a treat. I mean, everything looked so sad and grey and shrunken. I must have stood in front of the display for a good five minutes, just staring, blankly. Occasionally, I would pick something up to tap the nutritional info into my iphone (at least having a WW app makes it look a bit like you’re sending a text rather than calculating points) and spluttering out loud on discovering that some mangy, smelly tuna mayo on soggy stuff that used to vaguely resemble bread would set me back more points than a good home cooked meal.
No, I think me and the lunchtime takeaway may have come to the end of our love affair for a while. Increasingly, I just can’t stand spending a premium to eat bad ingredients badly assembled and left to sweat away in plastic. Especially when I think about the gorgeous squash soup with Gruyere leftovers that I was tucking into this time last week, a lunch that knocked any of the Co-op’s offerings into a cocked hat, and for half the points.
Should you find yourself in a similar situation, my current top options (and by top I mean best of a bad bunch) are:
Comfort Food – M&S Shepherd’s Pie in a Pot: Yes, M&S tends to be pricier than its rivals, but it also tends to be worth it. The meal-in-a-pot thing may be a bit of a gimmick but I thought the Shepherd’s Pie was pretty tasty and filling and perfect for a gloomy day. At 9 points it is by no means the lowest option out there, but it will keep you going, and there is a generous layer of cheese on top which appeals to this particular fromagophile. The M&S Count on Us Chilli Con Carne pot should get an honourable mention here too – a bit lacking in spice, but only 6 points a portion and also pretty filling.
Meal Deal – Boots still wins this one by a whisker, I reckon. The Shapers range tends to be ok - I’m currently opting for the Chicken Caesar Salad. The dressing is, of course, no where near the real thing, and the cheese is a bit on the plasticky side, but there are plenty of crunchy croutons and a decent amount of chicken in with all the salad and the whole thing comes to a mere 4 points. There are plenty of 0 point fruit options to get as your “side” but I often treat myself to a bag of Snack a Jacks at 3 points – I have a curious fondness for rice cakes of all shapes and sizes.
Fast food – You still can’t really go wrong with a Subway. All the nutritional info is listed online so you can go as low or high point as you like and bulk out your choice with plenty of salad. I used to be a turkey-and-ham-with-the-works-plus-light-mayo kind of girl but have discovered that I can get steak and cheese for the same number of points (9) and somehow the latter feels much less like diet food.
Any other bright ideas would be welcomed…although for the time being I think I’m going to stick to filling my mauve and pink “Kitten” lunchbox (yes, I am 30, no, I have no intention of giving it up to use sensible Tupperware) with homemade fare – I might put the money I save towards something exciting. Like…oooh, I don’t know, a wedding…