I have been making a few trips into the city lately, and often end up buying lunch on the run. Being gluten free and not fond of cooking, I find it difficult to think of tasty, portable meals that don’t require heating or refrigeration that I can take with me. Instead I tend to look for takeaway Asian food, and this often involves eating in noisy, crowded underground shopping centres, railway station platforms, and trains. It also produces a lot of waste in the form of plastic containers and water bottles.
I decided to challenge my belief that eating bought meals while out of the house had to mean dining on bad food in lousy environments and creating a lot of waste. I realised I had been telling myself that it was “too expensive” to buy lunch in a sit down establishment with propper (non-disposeable) crockery and cutlery, or that I didn’t have time to wait. But these days time is something I do have, so maybe I could use it to give myself a better quality of experience.
What I have found is that takeaway food can be still be expensive, especially by the time you add in a bottle of drink. Places with an eat-in lunch special often provide free water, so when you are looking at gluten free meals the overall cost is comparable.
I made a checklist of what I am looking for in an ideal city eatery and came up with the following:
- Premises directly facing the street or in a protected environment (rather than buried in a shopping mall).
- Quiet with minimal ambient noise
- Comfortable space to sit with some privacy from other tables
- Comfortable climate; not too hot, too cold, too sunny or too windy.
- Food served on real crockery with real cutlery that a real person will wash up
- Free water in a glass made of glass
- Good food ready to serve or to order freshly made
Now what I need to do is scout out a few “favourites” in areas that I frequent so that I can plan my meals on my trips into the city. I found a place recently that provides good food with real cutlery and crockery. It was in a noisy shopping centre and rather stuffy, but at least it was better than eating hot chips standing on the railway platform.
Today I wanted to head for home rather than stop to eat so I made a compromise. I bought a sushi roll and took it down to the railway platform. However I waited for the train and ate sitting down in comfort once the train arrived. I wasn’t ideal, but I felt better to be putting some thought into the quality of what and where I was eating.
Next step is to make better choices from the menu.
How do you solve the “finding food while out and about” issue?