Yesterday I brought my lunch to work.  I had cheese tortellini with carrots on the side and a banana.  Yum.  I bring my lunch to work almost every day, while there are people in my office who go out for lunch every day.  I’ve never asked them why – maybe I should? – but I am often one of only three or four left in the office when everyone else goes out to eat.

While I’m happy to just bring a lunch every day, I will almost always join the office out for lunch on Fridays.  Working downtown, this can put a dent quite a dent in my monthly spending allowance, as lunches range from $10 to $20 without a drink.  I only get $100 – $150 a month to spend!  So why do I do it?

Usually it’s not for the for the sake of lunch itself.  The food I make at home is better proportioned and more nutritious, if all I want to do is get full.  But eating is not just about getting full, otherwise we’d all eat nutritious, calorie dense food and forgo the seasoning.  To me, eating is, and should be, an experience. Eating is pleasurable – so why not enjoy it?

It could be as simple as the experience of enjoying a well made home cooked meal, such as when a family sits down to dinner or when I unpack my lunch to taste something the bf made for me last night.

Similarly, when the bf and I go out to eat, we do it for the experience.  We like having decadent food and great wine, once in a while.  We like attentive service and innovative restaurants.  We rarely go out to eat purely for the sake of eating.  When I do mystery shops for restaurants, the food itself takes up only a small portion of the report.  The larger part of the report asks – how was the dining experience?

When I go out to eat with my co-workers, it is for the social experience.  Friday lunches are when people have a beer, loosen up, and talk over a leisurely (and over-priced) meal.  If I never went, people would have a harder time getting to know me.  By going once a week, it gives them a chance to see how I am “outside” of work – this is especially important in temporary jobs, such as mine.  When I go back to classes, I want them to remember someone who worked hard but was also a fun colleague.  I do not want to be the “aloof” intern who was “too good” to have lunch with the boys.  I want them to remember someone that they would work with again.

It is not worth sacrificing $10-$20 a day every day simply to get full.  But it is worth sacrificing that money once in a while to get a social eating experience with friends and colleagues at the end of a work week.