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The Trouble With Work Lunches In Colombo

It doesn’t matter how much we love (or hate) our jobs, the one thing we all look forward to is the glorious lunch break. Between endless meetings and email threads, lunch time is where you can catch a moment for yourself or find out how your coworker’s date last night worked out. This is only made better by an amazing plate of rice and curry, which, despite the comatose feeling it induces about an hour later, most of us absolutely refuse to go without.

However, actually getting your hands on a work lunch is never that easy, especially if your mother stopped lovingly packing a lunch for you years ago. Here are some of the reasons why:

1. The Dreaded Afternoon Traffic Bottleneck

The sight of the traffic on the roads is sometimes enough to put you off lunch altogether. Image courtesy informedinfrastructure.com

Heading out for lunch? Excellent. A quick outing helps you recharge and relieve work monotony. Battling with the traffic? Not so excellent.

When nipping out for lunch, you’re invariably going to get caught in the dreaded afternoon bottleneck filled with tired schoolchildren sandwiched in buses and vans and equally frazzled work people trying to rush to restaurants and wolf down their food and return to the office within an hour. It’s like a cut-price Amazing Race – the hungry Colombo version.

When confronting your hunger, the afternoon heat, humidity, and traffic-choked roads, it’s sometimes easier to admit defeat and gratefully reach out for the delivery menus. We’ve all been there.

2. The Lines

When you look at the lines and ask yourself: is this really worth it? Image courtesy macandcheesechicago.com

Some of us are lucky to have good eateries in the vicinity or even canteens at work which serve up superb food with great value for money. But as a wise man once said, with great eateries come great lines.

There’s a Darwinian struggle for good food during lunch time and you’ll have to brave the long lines for your rice and curry. If you’re unfortunate enough to have a meeting run late, by the time it’s your turn to pick up lunch there’s only a handful of rice, soggy papadam, and dry dhal left for you. Yum.

3. Nutrition

Fast food may look good, but do you really want so much junk clogging up your system? Image courtesy thesurge.com

We know, we know. Everything tastes better deep-fried and a Lankan meal without carbs seems unthinkable. When you’re in a rush, the last thing you want to do is agonise over the calorie count in your lunch. And it takes time to meal prep for the week and make sure that the meals you eat are both tasty and nutritious and aren’t repetitive.

Whether it’s a liberal amount of MSG, old oil for refrying, or overcooked vegetables stripped of their nutrients – often it’s hard to control the nutritional aspect of your meals if you’re reliant on meals outside.

If you’ve found a place which doles out healthy, affordable, and delicious food, congratulations. Hold on to it and never ever let it go – you’ve found yourself the food equivalent of a unicorn.

4. Variety is the spice of life

This may look like a decent meal, but what if you’re allergic to sprats, or can’t stand beetroot? Image courtesy cnn.com

When eating lunch out you’re at the mercies of whatever is being served at the food outlet for the day and the mood of its cooks. Those few seconds when you hesitantly unwrap a buth packet and survey its contents with trepidation are crucial ones – especially if you have strong feelings about specific vegetables.

What if you’re not a bitter gourd fan and there’s ample portions of it? What if the cook at your regular buth kadey is a little lovelorn lately and has been unwittingly serving up pumpkin for three days straight? These are all perfectly legitimate lunch problems.

Take heart. The perfect buth packet is out there but it takes time to find. Thankfully, lunch outlets have caught on to the fact that people like to have a say in what they eat and offer more options or assemble your lunch packet before you.

Other food outlets have upped their game, letting customers mix and match their meals according to their mood or preference (even via Facebook) and giving them the choice to choose their perfect lunch in advance.

5. Hygiene

Street and kadey food may look good, but who knows what conditions they were prepared under? Image courtesy etramping.com

There are two things which occur when you choose to eat out. The first is an unwritten agreement of mutual assurance where you trust that the establishment you frequent adheres to food safety regulations and takes care to prepare food in a clean environment.

The second is a wilful suspension of all notions of hygiene – usually for street food or the smaller eateries – and a quick prayer hoping that you will live to tell the tale of your meal.

Sri Lanka’s Food Act and Consumer Affairs Authority have been struggling to keep up with Colombo’s bludgeoning food scene and rapid expansion. And it’s not just the small food outlets which are at fault, some of the bigger players in the industry tend to slip as well. Food safety issues have been at the fore recently and given the rise of food outlets, it’s been understandably hard to regulate the industry.

But these troubles can be avoided with a little advanced planning. Lunch delivery services are becoming increasingly popular, simply because they let you worry less about how you will get your lunch besides guaranteeing you with a hygienic, wholesome meal. Do your research, find a lunch service provider that works for your budget and dietary requirements, and avoid the stress. It will save you all those extra minutes for the much-needed alone time or coworker chit-chat.

This article was sponsored by Lanka Food Solutions

Featured image credit: flashpackatforty.com

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