Whole Foods Market Gets Behind Lunch

I like Whole Foods Market. In fact, I like it so much that I occasionally work there.

So imagine my surprise and delight to see an announcement for the new “Level Up Your Lunch” series coming to a few big cities on August 24. Box Lunch Lifestyle has been all about a better lunch for awhile now, so YAY for Whole Foods Market finally getting on board! (With the food part, anyway.) I can’t imagine a better lunch advocate to have on our side.

If you live in New York City or Miami, Florida, I hope you’ll take advantage of these upcoming events, and PLEASE send me a picture if you score one of the bento boxes illustrated by Will Bryant. (I’m already jealous.) But if you live in New York Mills, or Miami, New Mexico, Box Lunch Lifestyle is here for you. Keep building that more satisfying life you deserve. No waiting in line required.

Bento art by Will Bryant. Photo credit: Whole Foods Market®

Bento art by Will Bryant. Photo credit: Whole Foods Market®

Ellis Paul: Eat Your Lunch. Write Your Song.

When you were a youngster, did you think that a musician’s life was about as glamorous as it gets? Well, the reality of being a musician is harder than you probably imagined back then, but one of the coolest parts can be yours—even if you feel stuck at an un-glamorous desk today.

If you don’t know Ellis Paul, you’re in for a treat. Bob Dylan and James Taylor have nothing on him as a songwriter, and he shares his amazing gift by teaching musicians at all ability levels. If you’ve “always wanted to write a song,” prepare to be inspired.

Photo credit: Ali Hasbach

Photo credit: Ali Hasbach


Here are some ways EP can help get your creative musical juices flowing in 15 minutes:

Forget what your 4th grade music teacher said. You’ll never know if you can write a song unless you try. Today’s not just THE day: it’s YOUR day.

Thank you for this photo, Ali Hasbach.

Go-To Ingredient: Eggs

Eggs are NOT boring. They are the kind of secret weapon ingredient that prevents the I-have-nothing-to-make-for-lunch excuse.

Eggs aren’t fussy. If I’m working from home, I can cook them. If I’m working away from home, I can eat them boiled—or baked into a “muffin.” And I consider them a homemade food, and one that’s super-quick (unless you’re making hollandaise). Eggs also keep well. You can store enough in the refrigerator to save you that the mid-week run to the supermarket.

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There’s nothing hard about hard-boiling eggs, and they’re happy to be turned into enough different dishes that you won’t get bored with them over night. Or just eat them with salt and cayenne pepper.

Do you have a go-to ingredient? Let me know, and I’ll share it with the gang.


Quiz: Your Creative Type

To read the behind-the-scenes making of this quiz, click  here .

To read the behind-the-scenes making of this quiz, click here.

Austin Kleon says, “Forget the noun, do the verb.” Amen!

So rather than deciding whether or not you are “A Creative,” use these short, visually-interesting questions from Adobe Create Magazine and its collaborators to look at your creative-genius-self in a fresh way.

If you feel restless or bored, your creative type could give you new ideas about what quiet dream pursuit might feel satisfying today. Maybe it isn’t something thought of as “creative” in a traditional sense, but because it’s created (a verb) by YOU, it will be its own piece of art.


Go-To Gear: Bklyn Bento

It may look like just a metal box. (It is.) But after using it for the first time, I’m already in love with this particular super-cool metal food-box.

Evan Johnson Photography  has turned a product shot into a portrait. Nicely done.

Evan Johnson Photography has turned a product shot into a portrait. Nicely done.

Bkyln Bento products have everything a person could ever need or want (in a metal food-box, that is). Each is made of stainless steel and the silicone lid seals tight. It’s just a bit bigger than my other containers AND it still fits nicely in my lunch box. It’s handsome: engraved, and doesn’t come in colors that only a kid would love. It’s New York. Sigh. I [heart] New York.

But I also love that this box is made by humans who share the spirit of Box Lunch Lifestyle in two important ways:


1. Beyond making a quality product (i.e., just doing their job), they want something “better.” 



2. They’re funny.

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Love the box. Love the spirit. Already adding more Bkyln Bento stuff to my list.

Just for Fun: Lunch Boxes with Personality, and the Food they Deserve

Thank you, Chow Hounds, for this entertaining and clever piece.

These images are from www.chowhound.com. Love, love, love this.

These images are from www.chowhound.com. Love, love, love this.

The article asks and answers, “What do you put in the…

…Japanese Bento Box? Sweet and sour chicken.” That one I might have come up with on my own.

…Fender Speaker Lunch Box?” The Elvis Sandwich. Nice!

…Bacon & Eggs Lunch Box?” Waffle Sliders. Now that’s a homemade lunch worth watching the clock for.

…Picnic Basket Lunch Box?” Charcuterie. A perfect match, but I wince a little at foodie words that I’d have to translate for my mom.

…(my laugh-out-loud favorite)…Tacocat Lunch Box?” Build-your-own tacos, of course. It’s true: tacocat spelled backwards is tacocat. And Taco Cat tacos, it turns out, are available in my own backyard, and bike-delivered even in the dead of winter. Life just gets better and better.

Enjoy the full article’s pictures, recipes, and humor here.

Why Two Vegetables?

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Food trends come and go, but people basically agree that broccoli is both hard to spell and better for you than Twinkies. Making a lunch that includes two vegetables is a nice little trick that will get you moving in the right direction.

  • If you eat more vegetables at lunch, you’re still eating “better” that day when you end up grabbing pizza for dinner, or you’re too tired to fight with the kids over green beans.

  • Even homemade lunches often skimp on vegetables. To get your two, you might start adding a vegetable to your meat/cheese sandwich in addition to those carrot sticks.

  • More vegetables are a clever way to bump out of your lunch box those pre-packaged (i.e., not homemade) bring-your-own-lunch foods like chips or crackers.

If you’re new to vegetables, don’t worry about which are the “right” ones, and please don’t choke down a vegetable you don’t like. (In my opinion, life’s too short to eat celery.)

Just eating a lunch with two vegetables means you ARE eating a little better. Today. See? I knew you could do it.

Get the Ball Rolling


At some point, most of us have said something like, “I know I should eat better” or “I wish I’d stayed in touch with my cousin” or “I really want to get outside more.” But we haven’t done it...yet.

The choices you make at lunch today can mean actually changing things for the better.

Don’t overthink whatever it is you want to do, and don’t churn up a hundred reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t start today. Make some food, enjoy it, and give that thing you’ve been wanting to do a 15-minute chance. Then let yourself feel a little braggish. (I know that’s not a word, but it should be.) Taking one small step away from boredom or restlessness and towards satisfaction is a pretty big win.

C’mon. It’s just one day. It’s just lunch. You can’t fail.

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Sara's Little BLL Bird


Even with the best intentions, the day can take a funny bounce and lunch breaks get missed. But don’t look at these as losses. They might be signs that things are trending in a not-so-good direction. Here’s what Sara says about workday lunches that don’t go as planned.

Today I had to break up my lunch time. I did my 15 minutes of eating, but my 15 minutes of yoga got bumped until after work because of so many meetings today. I couldn't get a full 30 minutes between them. It is good to have the BLL time as a "canary”–an indicator that things are too busy. The little BLL bird is saying, "Hey! Things are getting dangerously close to ‘unhealthy’ if you can't take 30 minutes during your work day.”

Sara’s listening. Are you?

I drew this during my 15 minutes for Me yesterday. For real.

I drew this during my 15 minutes for Me yesterday. For real.


Taste-Testing Lifestyle Diets

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Wouldn’t it be great if the latest diet trend was THE food answer? Finally, the “Please just tell me what’s best to eat, and I’ll eat it” problem is solved! And solved by someone who knows more about nutrition stuff than I do. Excellent!

Of course we’re curious about food fads and new nutrition findings. We wonder if keto or paleo or vegan or [fill in the blank with whatever’s coming next] is best for us. And the deluge of diet-related information can be pretty persuasive, especially if you don’t think of yourself as a food expert.

Your workday lunch is the perfect way to taste-test any lifestyle diet. Here’s why:

  • It’s just one meal. It doesn’t require a radical purging of your pantry or dozens of menu ideas, so there’s less getting in the way of getting started.

  • You won’t have to worry if the kids will notice that the mac and cheese is vegan.

  • You can test how, say, high-fat or low-carb food choices work or don’t work for you. See how your afternoon energy compares to other days.

  • Starting with different choices at only lunch makes it harder to say things like “I’m keto” or “I’m a vegetarian.” And that’s good. Because you’re not. You’re a person figuring out what foods you prefer, not confusing what you eat with your identity.

You may not consider yourself a food expert, but you are—and will always be—the expert on YOU. If you want to try refining your food choices, lunch is a smart strategy. Sample the trend du jour, see what parts work for you, and keep building on what you learn. Then instead of that disappointing SPROING back to the “old ways” when extreme changes don’t pan out, you’ll be moving step-by-step toward a sustainable lifestyle made just for YOU.

Podcast Pick: Side Hustle School

It’s true. I’ve heard every single episode.

It’s true. I’ve heard every single episode.


As some of you already know, I’m a big Chris Guillebeau fan. Some of the principles CG advocates in his daily Side Hustle School podcast align beautifully with Box Lunch Lifestyle:

  • You don’t have to do “work” (or lunch) the way other people do. You can make your own rules for the life you truly want.

  • Dramatic changes may not be your thing—today, or ever. But you don’t have to quit your job or completely overhaul your lifestyle to get a taste of something more personally satisfying.

  • CG often says, “Inspiration is good, but inspiration with action is so much better.” Don’t just think about your good idea. In just 15 minutes during today’s lunch break, you can start making it real.

If you’ve been percolating on a side hustle idea, let CG’s stories inspire you to actually do something about it. If you don’t have an idea yet, they’ll remind you that a whole world opportunities is waiting.

Keeping the Team Whole

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I just read that roughly one in four U.S. workers left their jobs last year. That’s a LOT of people not finding what they need at work. And it means that in 2018 employers paid over $600 billion in turnover costs. Ouch. 

It’s hard to know why these people are leaving, but I know why I left my last job: I felt like I had to choose to be either my authentic self or a “good” employee. Most days, I felt invisible, and eventually Authentic Me got tired of hoping my workplace would value more than just my productivity. I wanted to matter as an individual human and not just as another name on the org chart.

Maybe that’s why the gig economy and side hustles seem so attractive: true or not, they feel more personal. You have some autonomy, and instead of hearing only the company’s story from Day 1, you have a better shot at getting to tell your own. There must be something to gig/side options if 57 million people are now choosing them over traditional full-time work.

I don’t think it has to be so hard to find—or create—a workplace that’s just a little more human. That’s what Box Lunch Lifestyle does: it helps redefine work culture starting with lunch. As some of you know, Box Lunch Lifestyle encourages employees to make the most of their lunch break by packing a healthy lunch and taking a small step toward a goal they’ve never had time to act on. When people bring homemade food to work and take a break to do something personally meaningful, it reminds them in the midst of the day’s chaos that they are people before they are coders or nurses. And when the boss actively encourages and practices it herself, employees have proof that the organization cares about making a small but real investment in their whole selves. Whether they’re recent grads or new grandparents, workers have the freedom and opportunity to get what they need most that day. 

A lunch break with the potential to be more nourishing than just food is a perk that adds virtually nothing to the company’s bottom line, and it could go a long way towards earning workplace loyalty. It’s simple, daily evidence in the belief that a better You means a better Us.

BLL Fun Find: Lunchbox Love® Notes

I bought these Lunchbox Love® Notes at a great market last week. 

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I love this idea (and I especially love the Kool Aid® tidbit), but these notes are
a little on the mushy side for me. Here are some BLL-caliber alternatives:

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Card BLL kung fu.jpeg
BLL Card tired.jpeg
Card BLL_CG give permission.jpeg

If you want a printable version of these (and more) let me know.

Meal Planning Resource: PlateJoy

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“I don’t know what to eat.”
”I don’t have time to shop.”
”I’m bored with food.”

If these roadblocks are your roadblocks, there are a lot of pay-by-the-month services like PlateJoy* that could help. PlateJoy asks you some food and lifestyle questions then gives you doable recipes, like the one I tried yesterday: Creamy Chickpea Salad with Apples and Pecans.

I don’t like pecans, so I used walnuts. And this kind of “creamy” is okay for the non-dairy-eaters, too: it’s made with just a tablespoon of better mayo.

I don’t like pecans, so I used walnuts. And this kind of “creamy” is okay for the non-dairy-eaters, too: it’s made with just a tablespoon of better mayo.

PlateJoy got my attention for a few reasons.

First, if you’re too busy to shop, your personalized list of ingredients can be sent directly to Instacart. Homemade food is the Box Lunch Lifestyle goal. Getting those ingredients to your home is the first step.

Second, people trying to prevent diabetes may be eligible for a CDC-inspired program that goes beyond food with perks like a free FitBit and on-demand personal coaching.

Third, they do LUNCH.

Personally, I don’t need a lot of lunch food variety, and I love grocery stores so much that I work in one just for fun. But if you aspire to try new dishes, need ideas for getting two vegetables into your lunch, or would rather skip the store, PlateJoy could solve those problems with one swift blow. (Or with one free 10 day trial.)

If you try it, or if you have a another good service to recommend, I’d love to hear from you.

*I don’t make any money if you try this. I just want you give any tool a chance that will get you one step closer to a better lunch.

"Lunch Pail Kind of Guy" Changes the World

In this article, Dale Schroeder is described as having been a working-class, bring your lunch kind of guy. He had a quiet dream: he never had the opportunity to go to college. So DS went to work every day, and he worked hard.

And he saved more than $3 million to be awarded as tuition money after he died (in 2005).

Thirty-three people graduated from college debt-free thanks to DS. When they met recently to honor this man they’d never met, they gathered around his old lunch box.

A simple object, a quiet man, and a powerful symbol of what’s possible when we pursue what matters to us.

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Did you know there's an app?


There is!

Last week I mentioned Austin Kleon’s 15 minutes of bliss, which I bet most of us would agree is a great idea. But you have to make it happen, and it’s very, very easy to let that 15 minutes become 14, then 12...you get the picture.

If you want a fun way to defend 15 minutes just for you and 15 minutes to eat your lunch, the Box Lunch Lifestyle web-based app is available for exactly $0. A friendly little fighter keeps track of your time, saves your notes, and cheers you on. You can even earn belts as your daily wins start piling up.

Try it and please don’t be shy with your feedback. I’d love to hear what you think.

Also, it costs exactly $0 to share this app with a friend.


Floyd's: More than Sandwiches


On Friday I saw the dress rehearsal for Floyd’s, a new play by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage. (I wasn’t going to miss a play about underdogs and sandwiches.)

Floyd’s is a roadside diner and the story is told entirely in the kitchen. All the people working there have been incarcerated, and they need this job. While serving up the run-of-the-mill sandwiches ordered by customers, these cooks dream of—and make—something bigger and better for themselves both sandwich-wise and life-wise. They wrestle with choices.

Life is hard at Floyd’s. And maybe those aren’t the kinds of battles you’re facing today, but as Nottage so eloquently said in a recent interview, we’re all trying to “negotiate our freedom and fully inhabit our bodies.” I don’t know what it’s like to be in prison and want a fresh start, but I know how my version of wanting more out of life feels. There’s a kind of freedom I want, too. And to that end, we all have big and small choices, and taking them seriously without always taking ourselves too seriously is something we all share.

Making a sandwich can be an exercise in mindfulness—particularly if you create it with intention, have a keen awareness of the elements, and find joy in infusing it with a sense of self.
— Lynn Nottage, playwright

One of the cooks says he thinks the sandwich is the most democratic of foods, one that’s available to all of us. I think that Box Lunch Lifestyle makes lunch a powerful 30 minutes of better food and time that the world can’t take away from you no matter your circumstances.

If you’re in the Twin Cities, you can see the world premiere of Floyd’s at The Guthrie Theater. If you’re in NYC, keep your eyes open. It’ll get there.