It may not be the "hip" thing to do, but Mark Bittman thinks you should start bringing your own lunch to work. "What happens when you bring your lunch is that you start to see it as primary, and the restaurants and fast-food joints and company cafeterias as backups, rather than the other way around," Bittman writes in the New York Times. You can go the traditional sandwich-and-fruit route, or you can try one of three other common options: Grab whatever's around and healthy (think a random assortment of fruits and vegetables), take last night's leftovers, or put together a creative menu that you assemble at work.
Bittman offers tips for how to combine all of the above. Two key points: You'll need to keep your pantry well stocked with everything from soy sauce to sardines, and you'll need to cook. But it doesn't have to be difficult. Think of things like roasted vegetables or a pot of beans, "elements that you can put together while you’re doing something else ... and that will last all week." You can also whip up batches of no-cook sauces to keep on hand; Bittman provides five of those recipes, plus three other basic recipes. Just try it, and you'll see how "monotony becomes a thing of the past, as does the dread of figuring out where and what to eat," Bittman writes. "You have taken control. Let the others laugh." Click for his full column. (Read more Mark Bittman stories.)