Whether you’re spending the summer interning or are a recent grad starting out your first job in this fabled “Real World” we keep hearing so much about, paying for lunch everyday can be a huge drain on your bank account. If you’re working one of those unpaid gigs, this is especially true, since most food carts don’t accept “experience” as a form of payment. Either way, bringing lunch to the office is a great way to spend a little bit of time and save a lot of cash.
Especially in the summer, a salad is a great dish to look forward to pulling out of the break room fridge. It’s light, but solid enough to keep you going the rest of the day. It’s an awesome way to trick yourself into eating vegetables, which is an essential component of Pretending to Be a Grownup. And finally, the list of salad combinations is almost endless, so there’s no worry of getting bored. Need some protein? Toss some leftover chicken, fish, or tofu on a bed of mixed greens and you’re off to a good start. Try walnuts, apples, and feta cheese. Or, beets and chevre over spinach. There are enough combinations to get you through all the mealtimes and meetings of the summer.
One of the most important aspects of an exciting salad is a solid dressing. One of my favorites is this Balsamic-Maple Vinaigrette. The small amount of syrup, far from making your salad the unholy marriage of pancakes and lettuce, keeps the vinaigrette from getting to that prickly point of being oversalted that so many balsamic dressings suffer from.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle to bringing a delicious salad into the office is just that: how to get it there? Unfortunately, salads are the Ikea furniture of brown bag lunch options: some assembly is required. But assemble too early, and by noon they will be soggy messes of their former selves. In the interest of avoiding such tragedies in the future, I am going to reveal the Brown family secret to this age-old problem: Salad in a Bag.
When you make your salad in the morning before work, put all the ingredients in a clear plastic bag–ziploc is an option, but over-sized sandwich bag and twist tie is ideal. Try to pour your dressing in first, or isolate it in one of the corners. Then, come lunch time, blow air into the bag as you would a balloon… a balloon full of salad. When bag is inflated, hold the opening shut to trap the air and give the thing a good shake. This evenly distributes the dressing and provides hours of amusement (in daily 1 minute increments) to your coworkers. When satisfied with the state of your salad, either place it in a bowl or eat it directly from the bag. Honestly, I know this sounds crazy, but it’s one of those things where once you try it, you will not only swear by it, you will find yourself telling your friends about it. At first, they will resist for all those reasons you once did but have now forgotten. But every lunch break, they will see your perfectly mixed salad, and then? Then they will reconsider.
Chloe is a graduate of Williams college and would like to point out that Salad in a Bag is really no different from shaking your salad up in two dining hall bowls, a practice she insists was “a thing.” Read more…
Serves ~10 salads
3 ounces balsamic vinegar
3 ounces rice vinegar
1 clove garlic (minced)
3 teaspoons dijon mustard
8-9 ounces olive oil
4 ounces maple syrup
2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cilantro
Place in a bowl and blend well. Refrigerate and enjoy!