Taegan Edwards shares simple and fun tips for shared lunches from the campaigners at 100% Renewables, an Australian campaign for renewable energy. Not only are these lunches low-cost, but the act of sharing encourages the whole team to take time-out to prepare and eat healthy food together. We reckon this is a great strategy for a sustaining our best work as activists who are committed to looking after ourselves and each other.
We like to think we’re a friendly, sharing bunch at 100% Renewable. And one of the best bits of evidence we’ve got is our highly successful and functional staff lunch sharing system.
When I started working at 100% Renewable in April this year, several of the five of us on the team were trying to save cash and finding it annoying and expensive to go and buy lunch near the office everyday.
We’d heard via US-based New Organizing Institute of idyllic ‘Lunch Clubs’ where staff members would bring in home-cooked lasagna and pumpkin soup for each other and thought maybe we could be those kind of people – or at least see what we could pull off with our simple office kitchen and a shared lack of commitment to baking in our spare time.
The way we decided to run our staff lunch sharing system was simple.
We take turns for one staff member at a time to be in charge of food for a week. At the start of the week that person collects $10 from everyone, checks the fridge to see what’s still left from last week and heads to the shops to get more supplies.
Occasionally people go to a bit of extra effort – like when Geoff brought in a lovely minestrone soup and we sat down to eat together – but that’s pretty rare. Usually its more casual and we each just sort out our own gourmet toasted sandwiches and interesting side salads from the wide selection of ingredients in our stash.
We’ve got staples like turkish bread, wraps, avocado, tomato, cheese, red onion, rocket, mayonnaise etc and then we add more exciting stuff to mix it up like haloumi, anchovies, marinated artichokes, that sort of thing.
Six months into it and we all agree it’s a pretty awesome arrangement for a lot of reasons including:
There is delicious food on hand whenever you want.
It is so so cheap! If you eat lunch from our supplies everyday it works at a measly $2 a day.
There’s healthy competition to see who can make the best lunches that everyone else gets jealous of.
We get compliments and/or longing stares from the Greenpeace staff who we share an office with.
We get to offer our interns and volunteers free lunches when they work out of our office.
Apart from the odd oil slick or mouldy thing in the bottom of our green bags and sometimes running out of bread or wraps, we honestly can’t really think of any downsides.
So we recommend you give it a burl and if you do, here are some tips for starting your own lunch club:
Keep a roster handy. We have a list on a whiteboard with our names and dates on it to keep track of whose turn it is.
Talk about tastes. We are lucky to have similar tastes and no particularly challenging dietary requirements, but recommend that you keep checking in on what people are liking and/or craving.
Make sure you’ve got basic equipment. It’s amazing what you can do with a fridge and a simple sandwich grill.
Variety is good! Despite the previous comment – no matter how versatile a toasted sandwich is you can definitely get sick of them. We get things like frittata or falafels to try to spice things up a bit.
“Respect the cheese”. That’s what my brother used to say to me when I didn’t wrap the cheese properly as a kid. Make sure you’ve got some decent Tupperware and good wrapping habits.
Don’t force it. We’ve had periods where lots of staff have been working out of town – especially prior to the recent election, so we just took a break from shared lunches for awhile until our work patterns were a bit more stable.
Hope it works out well!
About the author
Taegen Edwards is the Community Organising Manager for 100% Renewables. She supports a grassroots community volunteer network to be well integrated, informed, trained and active. In recent years Taegen has worked with Yarra Climate Action Now in Melbourne, including developing a locally owned community solar farm.
Do you have tips for sharing lunches? What are your favorite recipes?