We Want to Change the Way You Make Lunch

October 14, 2015

This is a rally cry: Today for lunch, stop what you’re doing, close your laptop, and eat something not sad. We’re taking our Not Sad Desk Lunches on the road—and your office could be next. 

Not Sad Desk Lunch began nearly two years ago—former editor (and brilliant advice writer) Marian Bull wanted do to something in defiant response to the Sad Desk Lunch tumblr. And so it started on the site as a weekly column full of lunch tips for the takeout weary (we used them as much as we preached them). But then it spread to the whole company: The editorial team started bringing in odds and ends from their crisper drawers—a kind of floppy carrot, the left behind backside of a rutabaga, a heel of bread so stale I had to employ my body weight to cut into it. We’d throw it all together, vinaigrette playing peacemaker, and that would be lunch.

Peter Miller’s book, Lunch at the Shop, only spurred us on. Slow down, take a break, eat something meaningful, it said, and your day will be better. It will be more productive. You will be happier. It was Peter himself, over a not sad desk lunch, who told us we should take this gospel on the road. 

A recent Not Sad Desk Lunch, right; all the things we brought with us to make it, left.

More: Listen to our Executive Editor Kristen and me talk to Peter Miller all about lunch on an episode of Burnt Toast

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We didn’t need to be told twice. We’ve visited four workplaces and counting, bringing lunches and leaving the tools to recreate them in our wake. So far we've barged into the lunch rooms of Madewell, General Assembly, the Guggenheim, and First We Feast (stay tuned for more on what we made at each lunch!). And we have many more in the works; no company, government building, park, museum, or space even vaguely inhabited by human beings is safe. 

We believe that lunch can (and should) be better, but that doesn’t mean all perfectly twee market salads or sandwiches with artisanal condiments that cost more than your best dress shirt. A good lunch need not be 100% seasonal or local. (Hey, New York: Tell me where you can find a local avocado and I will make you lunch for a year.) If you are happy with what you have eaten, you have succeeded.

The staff at General Assembly digs in, left; an example of one of our spreads, right.

So far, Not Sad Desk Lunch has been touched by so many people: by Marian, by Peter Miller, by our whole team, by every contributor with a thought or a strategy or a kids’ lunch we could learn from. And now, we hope, by you. Share your lunches with us by hashtagging them with #notsaddesklunch—that will put you in the running to win a few of our favorite lunch tools, but we also hope to learn from you. Who knows—maybe we’ll take one of your lunches with us to the next place we visit. 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.

1 Comment

Taylor S. October 14, 2015
The evolution of this is amazing!