In this post I will describe the perfect method for taking a varied and healthy lunch to work each day with very little time, thought or money invested.
The combinatoric lunch!
In its most basic delicious form it consists of 4 ingredients
- Pasta/Rice that you cook at home and bring in a Tupperware
- Beans from a can, you can keep many cans in your office
- Cheese, if your office has a fridge you can keep it there
- Fresh greens, cilantro for example, you can bring these in the same container as the pasta/rice
The directions are simple
- Spread the pasta/rice on a plate
- Spread the beans on the pasta/rice
- Spread the cheese on the beans
- Microwave for about 3 mins
- Add the greens and eat!
"But won't this get boring?" you ask. To answer lets calculate how many different lunches you can have.
A few good pasta/rice types
- Long grain rice
- Brown rice
- Basmati rice
- Short grain rice
- Wild rice
A few good bean types
- Black beans
- Red kidney beans
- Pinto beans
- Lima beans
- Roman beans
A few good cheese types
- Extra sharp cheddar
- Fresh mozzarella
- Monterey jack
And a few good greens
These lists are certainly not exhaustive, but nevertheless, one can get up to 11*5*7*4 = 1,540 unique lunches with this model. If you eat lunch 5 days a week then you can eat a different lunch every day at work for almost 6 years. Tell that to anyone who thinks you eat the same thing every day. I know I do.
If you have a lot of extra time, you can microwave the rice in some tomatoe sauce, this adds some nice color. You can also cut in some tomatoes (as shown in the above photo) and/or mushrooms.
Pushing the limit
We can leave out any of the main ingredients if we wish. In our model that involves adding an invisible type of pasta/beans/cheese/green. This invisible food will increase each number by one. Under the assumption that we must have at least something to eat we need to subtract 1 for the case where all of the food you eat is invisible.
(12 pasta)*(6 beans)*(8 cheeses)*(5 greens)*(2 mushrooms)*(2 tomatoes)-1 = 11,519 unique lunches.
This means that if you ate the combinatoric lunch for breakfast lunch and dinner every single day, you could go over ten delicious years without duplicating a single meal. Of course you might die of an iron deficiency before this point...
Taking Euphman's suggestion you can actually have more than one item from all the classes. For example you can have both dill & cilantro with black beans & kidney beans. The number of combinations in this case is equal to (2^10)(2^4)(2^6)(2^3) where I have subtracted one from each number so that we ensure a hearty meal with at least one from each category. With this strategy - you could feed everyone in America 7 days a week for over 13 years without repeating a single lunch!