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February 21, 2013

STAWAR: Lunch: You can take it with you

For the past several years, I have been taking my lunch to work a couple of days a week. It’s surprising how quickly food smells can travel in our building. When the hallway has the ambiance of a movie theater, everyone knows that someone has been making buttered microwave popcorn. 

Last month, the whole building reeked of chili and shortly thereafter, somebody must have bought fish sandwiches for all their co-workers, as going downstairs was like stepping aboard a trawler. 

I must confess, however, that I am not entirely blameless. The leftover Polish sausage and sauerkraut I had last week created quite a stench and still sort of hangs in the air. In an article titled “Brown-Bag Lunch Etiquette,” Food Network blogger Victoria Phillips suggests that if you have an especially smelly lunch, you should eat in the lunchroom or preferably outside at a picnic table. 

She also advises you not to eat your messy Reuben sandwich at your desk, where it can drip 1,000 Island dressing all over your keyboard or phone. She also cautions against leaving uneaten lunch in the office refrigerator and throwing pungent food into the wastepaper basket under your desk. 

She must have worked in our office. 

Today’s sluggish economy has motivated many people to look for savings wherever they can find them. According to a study published by the marking company NPD Group, “Eating Patterns in America,” more than 8.5 million Americans routinely take their lunch to work. 

A number of people have found that they can save anywhere up to $2,500 a year, simply by eating lunch at work. One writer did the math and figured out that a 22-year-old typical New Yorker could have an additional $650,000 in his or her retirement account by age 62 just by taking their own lunch everyday. 

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