He hates lunch.
September 3, 2013 5:22 AM   Subscribe

My fiance hates lunch, and every day it is a "thing" for him to try to decide what to have for lunch. He doesn't want to have to bother with it any more. He said "I wish there was just some magic pill I could take that would keep me full and be healthy and make me not have to deal with lunch any more". So now we're thinking meal replacement bars so that he doesn't have to think about it any more. Suggestions?

We're looking for some grab-and-go meal replacements that are:
1. filling enough that he can make it until suppertime without getting all sugary and starving
2. relatively healthy (not crazy high fat or crazy high calorie, he's trying to lose a little weight as well)
3. fairly complete and balanced in terms of nutrients and protein and whatnot (he usually brings an apple and an orange to work)
4. bonus points if it is high fiber
5. no artificial sweeteners
6. doesn't spoil quickly/shelf stable
7. preferably a couple different varieties/flavours
8. bar OR drink powder that is easy to mix in to a meal replacement shake
9. He wanted me to add that he likes chocolate.

We're looking for either commerical meal replacement bars/powders (that can be purchased in Canada), or recipes for home made meal replacement type bars that we could make at home. Cost effective is important as well.

And before anyone suggests it, yes he has tried doing the "cook a big batch of thing and freeze off portions for lunch" thing but he gets tired of stuff really quickly to the point where he will end up not eating at all instead of eating whatever he brought for lunch. At one point we had a freezerful of at least three or four different types of lunches but he was really tired of eating them all and would just gaze in to the freezer sadly every morning and sigh.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Food & Drink (51 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
drink powder that is easy to mix in to a meal replacement shake

I am sitting here answering this question while drinking a dark chocolate Ensure shake which I've replaced breakfast with because I don't like eating food in the morning. I believe you can actually live on these, so one meal a day isn't a big deal. It's certainly not the same amount of nutrition you get out of a full meal, but it's better than junk food or nothing.

You can get the powder, but I just get the little bottles in bulk because it is more convenient. They don't need to be refrigerated until you actually want to drink them and the batch I bought six months ago expires in a year.
posted by griphus at 5:39 AM on September 3, 2013

What makes you think he won't get just as tired of a couple of different flavours of bars?
posted by koahiatamadl at 5:40 AM on September 3, 2013 [20 favorites]

EAS makes a wide variety of meal replacement drinks and bars that he might like. They have two chocolate flavors as well. You can get them ready to drink or as a powder. I prefer the Strawberry ones, myself. Lots more here.

Keep in mind drinking a meal is kind of weird at first, and you may not even feel full the first few times—some snacking may occur. You eventually get the hang of it, and if you drink slowly (the EAS things are fairly hard to gulp down anyway) your full response will be triggered, your body will feel good, and lunch is done.

One more thing worth mentioning: most of these shakes are 11 ounces, and only 100 calories. That's probably not enough for him, so I'd suggest looking for a larger size. I'm on a somewhat restricted caloric intake as I try to lose weight/return to the gym, I'm 34 and about 200 lbs, and I find I need about 250/300 calories per meal to feel right. Good luck and I hope you find him something!
posted by littlerobothead at 5:42 AM on September 3, 2013

Presumably, bars are fine because they can be eaten within several seconds, with only a wrapper to toss by the end.

I would get a variety pack of Clif bars. Maybe have one as early lunch and another as late lunch.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:43 AM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Someone here recommended Quest protein bars a while ago. High protein, low carb, some pretty good flavors. About 180 calories, so it might not be enough to replace lunch on its own...
posted by Gorgik at 5:48 AM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Wow, this is a terrible idea. He's asking for all sorts of health problems in 10-20 years. This strategy should be avoided at all costs.

Can you do it? Sure. In 20 years will this be one of his biggest regrets? Yes. The pain of having to deal with the health issues this will create is FAR GREATER THAN THE CONVENIENCE IT SAVES.
posted by Murray M at 5:50 AM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Check out Vega products. They have shakes and bars (180-240cal) for general meal replacement/supplement and also a sport-specific line. Their product is vegan, high in fiber with no artificial sweetener. I've tried the Vegan Sport recovery protein bar (Chocolate coconut) and it's pretty tasty.
They're made in Canada as well.
posted by lucia_engel at 5:52 AM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: He thinks he'll be better with the bars because, like Sticherbeast said it is fast to consume, plus he seems to tire of savourly flavours a lot more quickly than sweet.

Murray M, do you care to explain exactly what all these health problems you're talking about are? I don't see how this could be a bad thing. He eats a healthy balanced breakfast, and our suppers are always healthy with lots of veg etc. I honestly can't imagine why having a bar for a meal would be so epically awful, especially when compared to the option of not eating at all or instead having a fast food wendy's 1/4 pound hamburger.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:54 AM on September 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

When I'm on road trips, I live almost exclusively on a diet of Clif bars, Clif "Builder" (higher protein) bars, and other bars.

Make sure to drink a lot of water, though.
posted by notsnot at 5:56 AM on September 3, 2013

The peanut butter clif bars are pretty tasty, maybe start there?
posted by oceanjesse at 5:58 AM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

There is a fad along these lines, a high nutrition open recipe drink called (cleverly?) Soylent. Supposedly tasty.

Some smart people think it's the best thing ever. I've not tried it myself.

posted by mattu at 5:59 AM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

What is it that he hates about lunch? I am a "grazer" so I don't like the full-meal aspect of it, maybe he is the same. The solution for me is to keep nuts and grapes and things at my desk to graze on, and maybe a yogurt or cheese stick in the fridge to give me an excuse to get away from my desk and stretch now & then. During my "lunch hour" I go walking or run an errand rather than eat a meal.
posted by headnsouth at 6:21 AM on September 3, 2013 [8 favorites]

I have a question: how does he feel about breakfast? Because if that is less of an issue, then fill him up at breakfast, and then you get more options for lunch. If he's trying to lose weight then 1,500 calories a day will help him lose 2lb a week, split 4:2:4 (Breakfast; Lunch; Dinner), which translates as 600 cals; 300 cals; 600 cals. He'll need to up that if he's quite active or exercising.

Honestly, a diet of commercial bars or shakes for lunch sounds at least as dull as fresh food. A secondary issue is if he comes home hungry and then fills up with a large evening meal just before going to bed. There is something in the idea that you should breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper.

Nonetheless, some options to rotate:

- Commercial protein bars - if you go down this route then what you eat at breakfast and dinner is all the more important because they aren't balanced diets
- Meal replacement shakes
- Microwaveable porridge
- Home made juices (a mixture of green vegetables and more sugary fruits like apples, pineapple as well as carrot. Blend in natural yogurt and avocado for some fat and texture); keep in an insulated container and drink through the morning/lunchtime.

Also: armchair psychologist on the internet: food fussiness to the point that someone would rather skip lunch than eat decent quality fresh food is a warning flag. There's nothing inherent about 'lunch' as opposed to 'breakfast' or 'dinner' that is objectionable to someone eating normally.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:25 AM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hmm. can you elaborate on exactly what the issue is? Because different answers would fit different problems.

If the issue is that you're packing a bag lunch in the morning and he has to make up his mind what he wants, then maybe....don't pack a bag lunch, and he just gets something every day from a place near where he works. Like a salad or a sandwich or something. Maybe he's just not equipped to make decisions until later in the day.

If he doesn't like stopping in the middle of the day to eat, then maybe he can stock his desk area and office with a bunch of healthy snacks - a big jar of almonds, a big thing of some kind of fruit and some baby carrots and hummus in the fridge, etc. - and he just grazes throughout the whole day. That way it feels like snacking, but it's really lunch spread over the course of several hours.

but if he is similarly balky when it comes to every other meal - you say that you have healthy breakfasts and healthy dinners, but you don't say whether he eats them with zeal or just tolerates them. If he just sort of eats them, then maybe he's just not interested in food in general, but it only becomes an issue at lunch. If that's the case I'd recommend getting lunch near work, but he can just get the same thing and be done with it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:29 AM on September 3, 2013

My dad hates lunch also. For as long as I have known him he has never eaten it.

He eats a gigantic breakfast which keeps him full until dinner.

Maybe your fiancé could eat a larger breakfast. Protein and fat will help him feel full longer. Fat, as long as it is not saturated, is not really the enemy it's been made out to be.
posted by thank you silence at 6:29 AM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

When I'm on road trips, I live almost exclusively on a diet of Clif bars, Clif "Builder" (higher protein) bars, and other bars.

I've done this too. It gets to be a drag when it's all your meals, but having a little something like this to tide you over at lunch time doesn't seem like a problem unless you get too hungry.

Yogurt is also a pretty ideal grab and go food. I put it in a container with some cereal or nuts or fruits or... As a bonus, if I don't eat it one day, it'll be OK the next day.
posted by BibiRose at 6:32 AM on September 3, 2013

Would he like more snacky things? I'm a midday grazer much more than a luncher so I generally bring in a stock of things like yogurts, fruit, and dipping type stuff like hummus and veggies which doesn't really feel like lunch but provides good fiber and protein. It feels like I'm just snacking on whatever I feel like more than eating a big meal.

I also sometimes keep a few boxes of cereal and some milk in the office fridge so I have variety but it's easy to deal with, if I'm particularly hungry.
posted by itsonreserve at 6:34 AM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hm, are we married to the same guy? :D

AbsquatuHubby has recently begun to bring protein shakes made at home: soy chocolate protein powder mixed with lowfat milk, a banana, and some peanut-butter powder (seriously! This stuff exists and it's great for shakes because it has a very low fat content but that great peanut-buttery taste.) He'll make a double batch and bring it with him to to sip through the day. He also doesn't like to eat lunch at work because he's so busy and running all over the place.
posted by absquatulate at 6:34 AM on September 3, 2013

This is going to be out of left field, but have you guys considered paying for a delivered meal service? I know it doesn't meet the requirement of being as cost effective as something like a meal replacement bar or shake, but it seems like a well-rounded and healthy option for someone who just doesn't want to have to think about choosing a lunch.

Barring that, I second the idea of eating a large protein and fiber filled breakfast and keeping Clif bars or the like around to tide him over until dinner.
posted by singinginmychains at 6:36 AM on September 3, 2013

Drinkable yogurt/kefir can really tide me over.

I'm also currently eating a minimum of one Luna Nutz over Chocolate bar a day, but that started about a week ago and I am aware that I will tire of them soonish.
posted by vegartanipla at 6:37 AM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I haven't had three meals a day since I was about twenty (I'm 54). It just seems too much food unless you have a physically demanding job. What I do is have a cup of tea or coffee when I first get up, and then I don't eat until mid-morning, at which point I will have a fairly big breakfast/brunch if I am at home or else I'll eat a sizeable sandwich or something if at work. Then I get through to evening on drinks, basically, but I tend to eat dinner as soon as I get home, and I make it the main meal of the day.

I realise this goes against the general wisdom of how you should distribute your food intake but it simply works for me. Eating like this I find that I'm simply not hungry when I first get up, so not having breakfast doesn't bother me in the slightest. A cuppa hits the spot and then I'm good until at least 10:00. Then, as long as I have a decently-sized something, I have no desire for lunch and I'm usually good until late afternoon, when the pleasure of anticipating dinner kicks in. Dinner is then the highlight of my foodie day. If I'm having a late night I might need a bit of a snack later on - toast, cereal or something - but generally not. Maybe moving to this sort of two-meals-a-day regime will work for your fiance, although if he tries it he'll need to be prepared for it to take a while for his metabolism to adjust. It will probably seem odd at first.
posted by Decani at 6:38 AM on September 3, 2013 [8 favorites]

Homemade larabars
posted by bq at 6:39 AM on September 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

I also hate lunch. And I'm not too fond of breakfast either. I can't tell from this question if he thinks a meal replacement is the only option here, or if he actively prefers to consume a big batch of calories at one time but doesn't want it to be a complicated meal. The latter option sounds as annoying to me as a traditional lunch, and so I wonder if it would be more pleasant for him to do what I often do and eat a few small snacks throughout the morning and afternoon. Things like:

-dried fruit
-a piece of chocolate (dark is healthy!)
-nuts and seeds if he can eat them (trail mix?)
-a few pretzels or wasa crisps or similar crunchy thing

The options for things like this that you can take to work and just keep at your desk are pretty much endless, and therefore less likely to get tiring than bars/shakes.

Also, I'm allergic to every bar-like food in existence so I can't vouch for these personally, but my mom - who is a super-healthy eater - takes Zone or Luna bars with her if she's going to be somewhere without food, and she likes them.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 6:41 AM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also: armchair psychologist on the internet: food fussiness to the point that someone would rather skip lunch than eat decent quality fresh food is a warning flag.

No need to pathologize this. It's always better and more enjoyable to savor a fresh, well-balanced meal than to absentmindedly inhale bachelor chow at your desk, but it takes continued effort and foresight to prepare healthy, appealing lunches that can survive hours or days in the fridge, and some people just get tired of that. I love food, but I get that "oh shit I need some calories in my system immediately and I don't care what" feeling semi-regularly, especially when I'm busy.

Anyway, Clif Bars are my staple "get a food in me as quickly as possible" food, with bonus "ooh, it has chocolate!" Sure, I get a little bored of them sometimes, but never bored enough to not eat one. I'd recommend he keep a box in his desk, along with some sort of nuts or nut butter for variety/snacktime's sake. Clif Bars are about 240-260 calories each, so he'll likely need to eat one at lunch and another in the afternoon if he wants to make it to dinner.

If he's got an office fridge and is willing to keep stuff in there, I also really like individual cheeses, Greek yogurt, and edamame as FOOD NOW food. Ezekiel cereal is also quite good for this, but it's pretty dense and needs yogurt or milk.

I do love the homemade Larabars bq links above, although I consider them more of a snacky treat than a meal replacement, and dates can get expensive.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:45 AM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

My go-to for a simple, nutritionally adequate, stable for several days at room-temperature, tasty-enough, and cheap lunch: two peanut butter sandwiches. For variety, rotate jellies.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:46 AM on September 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

My husband loves Clif bars; I'm a much bigger fan of Balance and Zone. For me, when I look at what I tend to eat during the day, I'm lacking protein, so that's a big thing that my bars have to have. For him, it's about the sense of the snack; he wants to have a nuts/cookie/granola experience, and eating a chocolate-coated bar feels inherently unhealthy, even if by the numbers it's no big difference. (here's a nutritionalvalue comparison chart)
I think part of what bothers him is that none of the bars fall into that "my grandmother would recognize this as food" category, and the thing with obvious nuts and oats sticking out of it is therefore much better than the thing with unitentifyable soy crisps coated in chocolate, in terms of chemical content. I don't honestly know how much difference that makes.
I'm trying to get off the bars and onto greek yogurt, which actually has a grams protein to calorie count ratio that is very similar to protein bars. Of course, the articles about all the excess acidic whey waste from strained-yogurt manufacturing are all kind of disheartening, but on a selfish what-I-want-to-eat level, a tub of yogurt is a great choice, and I've even managed to convince the husband that yogurt is not as yukky-tasting as he remembered it being.
posted by aimedwander at 6:50 AM on September 3, 2013

Response by poster: A lot of good suggetsions so far! Thanks!

No, he isn't seeing as meal replacement as the only option. We're open to other things that are fast, easy, cheap, etc. I am going to see how he feels about grazing, or having various snacky things that he can grab in the morning (we could pre-portion them in advance) and just snack on during the work day.

Metroid Baby has nailed it. It isn't a disinterest in food in general. He enjoys supper, likes cooking and savours his food, enjoys tastes etc. I think the fact that he enjoys food so much is part of the problem. He loves fresh and varying flavours, he is something of a foodie and to him eating should be interesting, so having the same foods over and over depresses him.

His issues with lunch are:
- he doesn't like a lot of normal "lunch foods" like sandwiches, and our suppers usually don't lend themselves to leftovers for lunch
- the "lunch foods" he DOES like are few and far between, and because of that he has eaten them a lot and now he is massively massively sick of all of them
- he usually has other things he wants to do at lunchtime (work, errands, etc), so lunch is inconvenient sometimes
- he often ends up getting fast food as a back up after 'forgetting' to bring his lunch, which he doesn't want to do anymore in terms of cost and health (high fat, high sodium, etc). Plus, he is getting sick of fast food too.

Re. Breakfast, as it is the mornings are always a big rush, especially when we're trying to get our kid off to school, so having breakfsat take any extra time is sort of not possible, or at least it would require getting up around 5am, which would suck.

Also, he is allergic to yoghurt. Gives him terrible acne.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 6:52 AM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing the big high protein breakfast. When I was in Australia they kept me full until 5 pm.
posted by brujita at 6:53 AM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Does he like soups? This has been the perfect option for my mother who is usually too busy to deal with lunch. She has a 2-3 cup travel crock pot at work. She brings the insert home with her and puts soup in it, brings it work, turns on the crock pot and she can have lunch at her desk anytime she's ready for it. We make big batches of delicious homemade soup and freeze in the correct portions. Then she takes the portion of soup out the night before to defrost. She'll supplement with fresh fruit, nuts, cheese and hard boiled eggs on occasion.

A few other ideas:

You could also consider making batches of "dinner" foods on the weekend that freeze well. Defrost the night before and he has "leftovers" for lunch.

Hummus/bean dip and veggies or whole grain crackers

Bean and cheese burritos (you can make ahead and freeze and use a whole grain tortilla)
posted by Kimberly at 7:09 AM on September 3, 2013

His issues with lunch are:
- he doesn't like a lot of normal "lunch foods" like sandwiches, and our suppers usually don't lend themselves to leftovers for lunch
- the "lunch foods" he DOES like are few and far between, and because of that he has eaten them a lot and now he is massively massively sick of all of them
- he usually has other things he wants to do at lunchtime (work, errands, etc), so lunch is inconvenient sometimes
- he often ends up getting fast food as a back up after 'forgetting' to bring his lunch, which he doesn't want to do anymore in terms of cost and health (high fat, high sodium, etc). Plus, he is getting sick of fast food too.

Ah, this helps.

Maybe something that will help is to stop thinking of things as being "lunch foods" in particular - who said that sandwiches were only for lunch or that lunch always had to be sandwiches? I've had sandwiches for dinner - hell, I've had breakfast for dinner - and there aren't food police that come kick me or anything.

But I don't like sandwiches all that much either, so maybe what I do will help you - by stopping thinking of it as "lunch foods" and just working on "food". And that means anything goes. I often make up a couple of different soups and main-dish type of salads (lots of pasta salads or grain salads) and just keep them in the fridge, and when I'm packing my lunch in the morning I just grab a soup and a salad, fill the containers on the tiffin I've got, and I'm done. I've also done the leftovers-for-lunch thing (I have advice on that in a moment).

Grazing is an option, though, and I thought of another thing for that - get a tub of those marinated mozzarella balls, and a container of cherry tomatoes - combine them in a bowl for instant caprese salad. (I took that to lunch for work recently and a total stranger passing me by in the park stopped and stared at it for a full 30 seconds before saying it looked good.)

As for leftovers not working - is that a packing/containment thing? Maybe a tiffin-style bento container would help. I have the "ms. bento" style and it keeps liquidy things contained pretty well, and keep things at a good temperature until lunch. (You can't mix hot and cold, unfortunately, but two salads, or a hot casserole and a hot soup? Yeah.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:35 AM on September 3, 2013

Instant rice side dishes might be an option. They usually come in microwaveable bags, sometimes even including meat (a bit weird conceptually, but it tastes normal) and some vegetables. I like the Uncle Ben's instant side dishes. There are a lot of different varieties, and they're often on sale. They might not be a good every single day option, but they're a great desk drawer backup lunch, and could help him to avoid fast food.

Also, if there's an Indian market near you, and if he likes Indian food, keep your eye out for meal-in-a-bag there. These tend to be about $4 each in big grocery stores but $2 each if you can find them in a smaller market. You can usually get dal, channa masala, palak paneer, and some other legume and/or paneer dishes. You either microwave them in the bag, or pour them into a bowl and microwave. Add rice from home, and they're surprisingly good. I look forward to eating them for lunch.
posted by snorkmaiden at 7:52 AM on September 3, 2013

Also: armchair psychologist on the internet: food fussiness to the point that someone would rather skip lunch than eat decent quality fresh food is a warning flag. There's nothing inherent about 'lunch' as opposed to 'breakfast' or 'dinner' that is objectionable to someone eating normally.

Completely disagree. I'm one of those people who hates lunch. Breakfast and dinner I'm fine with. I just don't love most traditional lunch food options. I hate stopping what I'm doing to take the time to eat lunch. I hate having to think and plan in advance about what to make and bring with me every day, etc. I have no food issues or broader issues, I just consider this meal a total pain in the ass.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:20 AM on September 3, 2013 [9 favorites]

He has to give some way or another. The easiest way would be to allow more of a budget to order out for lunch, but do things other than fast food. You can order out salads, all kinds of ethnic food, get something from the buffet at a grocery store, whatever.

The other compromise could be a huge ass breakfast, which is my preferred style - huge ass breakfast, snack at work, medium dinner. This does require getting up early though. Modern life sucks, with work you really need to advocate for your eating time.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:23 AM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are "lunchables" type meals for adults. I've tried the Bumblebee tuna lunch on the run, and it was tolerable except I'm not a huge fan of tinned meat. I've seen the 12 packs at BJ's type places, and they are shelf stable.
posted by fermezporte at 8:53 AM on September 3, 2013

Murray M: "Wow, this is a terrible idea. He's asking for all sorts of health problems in 10-20 years. This strategy should be avoided at all costs."

What on Earth are you on about? They're looking for a heathy lunch that is shelf stable, that's probably better the what the majority of people eat anywhere.

Personally, if I'm in too busy to make any food, I'll just pack a can of Wild Planet line-caught Tuna throw some salt, pepper and olive oil on it-- and have that straight out the can, followed by a snack of almonds and a banana or apple. Super quick and easy.
posted by Static Vagabond at 9:13 AM on September 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

There's absolutely nothing wrong with two meals a day if that's what his body is telling him it wants.

My husband's work schedule often leaves him without time to stop for lunch. I stock his office with mixed nuts (high protein and fat, a couple ounces will hold his blood sugar steady for hours) and a couple of boxes of whatever Costco is stocking that has the highest protein to sugar ratio (their brands vary, but their quality requirements are high so there's always something decent.) They tend to have a variety of flavors in each box so that might help your husband with his taste exhaustion thing.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:22 AM on September 3, 2013

Oh, duh, ploughman's lunch. The individual components are more like "snack foods" or "ingredients", even (bread, cheese, pickled something, a hardboiled egg, maybe some fruit) but put it all together, and it works as a meal.

If he's a foodie, maybe he'll have fun getting into the specific individual components ("ooh, you know, I can try that really interesting-looking double Glouiscester I saw in the cheese shop the other day"), and that'll motivate things.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:23 AM on September 3, 2013 [7 favorites]

couple of boxes of whatever Costco is stocking that has the highest protein to sugar ratio (their brands vary, but their quality requirements are high so there's always something decent.) They tend to have a variety of flavors in each box so that might help your husband with his taste exhaustion thing.

Boxes of nuts?
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:30 AM on September 3, 2013

Maybe he could try to think about it in a different way? I am vegetarian and bored of the lunch options around my work, but if I forgot to bring food or am in a hurry, I just eat the same old veggie avocado sandwich from the deli again. It's not that great but better than starving. Same thing for the bananas and carrot sticks from the deli. They're not the organic produce I prefer, but it's better than ordering fries. There isn't a magic pill after all. Or if he'd rather go hungry instead and wait for dinner, is it really that bad? It's fine.

I'm not trying to be flip but once I decided to cut out junk food, for health reasons, I had to get used to occasionally choosing options at lunch & when going out that are not the tastiest/most gourmet thing, but they're okay, and better than going hungry or eating something that's bad for me. Sometimes the healthy options are not that appealing and I end up not eating much at work and being extra hungry by dinnertime, and I just accept that although I would really like a slice of greasy pizza, I can't have it. Some of the healthy snacks I bring to the office to try and avoid this: salted almonds, dried fruit (turkish apricots, prunes - the Whole Foods ones are the best.. pricier but cheaper than getting snacks at the deli!), crispbread, bananas, carrot and celery sticks. I like all the different Annie's frozen vegetarian burritos and canned soups too, they're on the expensive side I guess but still cheaper/healthier than deli food.
posted by citron at 10:16 AM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

A couple cans of Slimfast should work. You can use it as a meal replacement instead of as a diet by just drinking more of it than you would if you were following the diet.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:47 AM on September 3, 2013

Similar to the ploughman's lunch suggestion - for awhile I was hooked in Starbucks' protein boxes and cheese boxes. I ended up buying a washable container with removeable compartments (I got mine at Super H Mart for really cheap) and made my own. Some sliced cheeses, a sliced up apple, some nuts and dried cranberries and some crackers. You could add a boiled egg, or whatever else he'd enjoy! It ended up being around $2 per box when I did it myself vs Starbucks' $5... Saying that: not a terrible fast-food option if lunch is 'forgotten' again :)
posted by sleepykitties at 12:09 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

They can be a little pricey, although Target sometimes has them for around $3 each, but I keep a small stash of GoPicnic meals in my desk for times where I'm not able to get bring or pick up lunch. I also like Kind Bars, which are mostly nuts, and they make newer ones that are more grain-based, although those have far less protein in them so you'd want something else too.
posted by bizzyb at 12:36 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's not a bar, but it's very hassle-free: I spend my working day in a truck, so I need to take packed lunches. Sandwiches get dull and I'm lazy, so oftentimes I bung two or three handfuls of dry pasta into a thermos flask, cover it with boiling water and seal. Come lunchtime, perfectly cooked pasta with no fuss.

It is, however, a bitch to get out of the flask, so invest in a food-specific thermos.
posted by Fen at 1:11 PM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

About the protein bars: I'm a very picky eater who also gets tired of food quickly, and lunch is my worst. For a while, I was eating Builder Bars. Now, the idea of eating one makes me feel physically ill and I'm stuck with like fifteen of them.

Right now, I usually bring lots of small snacks and try to eat them throughout the day...but it usually doesn't work very well :(. I frequently wish I had a smoothie machine in the office though.
posted by obviousresistance at 1:38 PM on September 3, 2013

Check for subscription snack boxes. I'm not sure what's available in Canada, but I'm referring to services like Graze.com (which is in the US and the UK). There's a list of various services here, although I think it's based in the US.
posted by telophase at 2:04 PM on September 3, 2013

Zing bars make a nice snack. Wholesome ingredients. Gluten free, dairy free and soy free. Also high in fiber. The Chocolate Coconut and Dark Oatmeal Choco Chip are the best flavors, in my opinion. I eat one of these in the morning instead of a breakfast.

Also seconding the suggestion of Quest Bars. But my word of advice is to microwave it for a few seconds before eating, that way it's nice and soft instead of super hard/chewy (LOTS of fiber in them).
posted by stubbehtail at 3:15 PM on September 3, 2013

Is there a My Fit Foods nearby? They are expensive, but there is a wide variety to choose from. I'm not trying to lose weight, I just use them as a healthier alternative to frozen meals when I don't have time to make lunch. So I pretty much ignore which ones are supposed to be lunch and which are supposed to be dinner.

Instead of making a big batch of stuff and freezing it, make small batches of components to freeze. He could choose a new combo every morning (protein, veg, starch). Fresh options could be bought weekly or every few days (cheese, fruit and raw veg, fresh bread, etc). Make the components foodie friendly (not just baked chicken, but Rosemary Chicken, etc.)
posted by rakaidan at 4:49 PM on September 3, 2013

I completely understand where your husband is coming from, I have very similar issues. I second the ploughman's lunch idea - I'll be having that on my dinner break today. Because it seems like a lot of little snacky things, it somehow isn't like eating the same thing over and over again. And if you don't have enough time to sit and eat it all at once, it's also the kind of thing that you can graze on through the afternoon.

Thanks for posting, I've been reading the suggestions with great interest! Must now see if it is possible to buy Clif bars in Australia...
posted by Athanassiel at 11:17 PM on September 3, 2013

I dislike lunch, and the best option for me when I was working was a deconstructed ploughman's style lunch. I'd mix it up week to week, with different cheeses and breads/crackers, and pickles/veggies/olives/whatever.
posted by linettasky at 12:07 AM on September 4, 2013

Response by poster: Just as a final follow-up...

So he tried having protein/meal replacement bars for lunch for a few days. They were relatively nutrtionally balanced, not too high fat or high sugar, lots of fiber and protein, and he thought they tasted great. Mission accomplished, right? Hells to the god damn fucking no, mission NOT accomplished. That experiement caused a bad fight because his gas was absolutely beyond the pale whenever he ate one of those things. His flatulence was constant, huge, and the stink was intense and would persist in the air for a long time. I know, you're thinking "ha ha, farts are funny". No... they weren't. I couldn't go anywhere in the car with him and had to take my own. He once farted in the car as he got out. When we came back to the car 2 hours later you could still fucking smell it! I couldn't snuggle with him on the couch. I couldn't eat my meals with him because he'd fart during dinner and I'd lose my appetite. I couldn't STAND beside him because he was constantly farting and the stink was so strong it was almost thick. He said that he "had to let them out" because he got bad gas cramps if he didn't. Considering how frequent and huge they were, I'd believe it. I mean, jesus, I couldn't sleep because he was farting at night and the stink would wake me up. He is a farty guy normally and I'm used to it because they generally aren't too stinky, but this was absolutely intolerable. It was to the point where our six year old (a boy who usually finds farts hilarious) asked his dad to stop farting because it wasn't funny anymore. Seriously, you have no idea how horrendous it was, and he didn't see any problem in it. (hence, the fight). Finally he agreed that another lunch option had to be found.

...anyway, the solution he has found is to eat Vector cereal for lunch every day. It is filling for him, cheap, easy, moderately good in terms of protein and fiber. He follows it with a couple pieces of fruit for a snack in the afternoon. Seems to do the trick. He's happy with it, keeps him feeling satisfied, a lot cheaper than the protein bars, and we can snuggle again without my wanting to vomit. Hurray!

Seriously though.. protein bars are the worst thing I have even encountered. Never in my life have I been so disgusted and offended and angry over someone's farts, and they resulted in the only time in the span of our relationship when I did NOT want to share a bed with him. It is a funny "remember when you ate those protein bars and became so toxic and flatulent that no one could be around you?" thing, but things were dire for a while there. The Meal Replacement Bar incident was the low point in our relationship to date.

Avoid protein bars if you care about your partner.

posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:10 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

He is a farty guy normally and I'm used to it

Beano & Bean-Zyme (vegetarian option) both work very, very well.
posted by headnsouth at 12:54 PM on October 17, 2013

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