Something for lunch.

(For anyone counting, this is 41 of 56. After this, there are 15 to go. And this one? It’s short. And there are recipe links.)

So, back to food and cooking:

Once upon a time, in the Before Times, I used to come home from my office in the middle of the day, most days, to eat lunch. Coming home made for a nice break between morning and afternoon, and it was far preferable to eating out. I could (still can) make a better lunch at a lower cost than any fast-food or fast casual dining, and I got to do a few other things while I was home (walk the dogs around the block, throw in a load of laundry, read the day’s news, etc.).

What I prepared, on those days that now seem long ago and far away, would typically be either salad or sandwich: a bed of greens topped with a fried egg; toasted bread with sharp cheddar cheese and a smear of pepper jelly. On the luckiest days, toward the end of summer, lunch might be a cutting board’s worth of halved figs and some shaved Parmesan. In the dark days of winter, I would heat some soup and make a cup of tea.

My lunch habit was one of the first casualties of the pandemic. With my teenage children suddenly home all day and expecting lunch (because lunch, to children – even teenage children capable of making their own lunches, somehow tastes better when Mom prepares it), my own routine evaporated. I found myself snacking as I worked straight through the days instead of pausing to have a proper midday meal. That lack of structure was more disruptive than I would have expected.

More than providing sustenance to carry me through the afternoons, my quiet lunches served as a kind of anchor in the day. Taking time for myself – to prepare simple food, sit and eat uninterrupted (except by the dogs) – was centering and peaceful.

With the West on fire, the Atlantic spawning storms, the coronavirus raging, and seeds of bitterness seeming to take root everywhere, it is increasingly hard to find equanimity. Reclaiming my lunch routine seems worth the effort, more now than ever.

But I’m out of practice and need some inspiration. You too? Excellent; then we’re in good company together.

So instead of dinner suggestions, how about some hints for lunch. Here’s a short round-up of round-ups, for your consideration (and mine):

35 Easy Lunch Ideas You Can Make in Less than 5 Minutes (Brit & Co. — NOTE: so, so many pop-up ads, but this compilation is the best I found, I promise, and all of the suggestions really are easy.)

Recipes for Lunch at Home (NYT Cooking – paywalled, but totally worth the subscription price)

Food 52 Lunch Recipes (I know; I said I was breaking up with Food 52, but I didn’t. I’m feckless and I know it.)

45 Vegetarian Recipes That Pack Well for Lunch (Cookie and Kate)

That ought to be enough to get us started, yes? May we find some peace in the process.

This post is 41/56 in a self-directed challenge to write (or at least post) something (SOMETHING) every day – a birthday gift to me from me, because writing gives me a place to put the clutter that lives in my head.