Working lunch

It’s New Year. Time for a lunchtime revolution. Let’s kick the uninspiring meal deals and mayonnaise-padded sandwiches into touch. Allan Radcliffe reports on the Great Lunch Experiment.

Lunch can be a rushed affair, that precious hour or half hour of down time all too often descending into a mad dash to the local supermarket or chemist chain to shell out cash you can ill afford on unpleasant meal deals, composed of chilly sandwiches, sugary drinks, crisps and chocolate bars.

We at The List wondered whether it would actually be cheaper, healthier and more sociable to pool lunch funds among our colleagues, buy good quality ingredients and take it in turns to make a midday meal of any shape or size for the whole group.

Each member of our intrepid, five-strong team was charged with bringing in two items each to contribute to the feast. The menu included one large Italian peasant loaf, Parma ham, dolcelatte and mozzarella, sunblush tomatoes, olives with pesto, artichokes and avocado. The total cost of the meal was £20.82, which works out at £4.20 per head, but this included the bread, a full 250g pack of butter and a large box of juicy Clementines, all of which could be used up over a number of days.

The advantages to such a scheme are self-evident: the food tastes better and is free from preservatives and additives. Participants can bulk buy, in the sense of purchasing large loaves, blocks of cheese, even a whole ham, which can be frozen or cut up and used over the course of a whole week. There’s little or no unnecessary packaging and it’s far easier to focus on seasonal vegetables. Also, this might be one of the precious few times in your life when you actually get to sit down and have a conversation with your esteemed colleagues and friends. The one clear drawback to laying your carefully acquired wares and provisions out on the staffroom table and tucking in is that it’s difficult to know when to stop. The moral? Perhaps modest portions are the way forward if an afternoon of snoozing and a lack of productivity is to be avoided.

The way we ate - a lunch for five for £4 a head

Italian peasant loaf £1.35

Mozzarella £1.15

Parma ham £3.98

Lettuce 59p

Sunblush tomatoes £3.59

Artichokes £2.22

Olives with pesto £1.98

Avocado 60p

Butter 99p

Ginger beer £3.89

Dolcelatte cheese £1.67

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