Around The World In 180 Lunches

One of the BIG joys of my job has been becoming friends with Caroline, one of the nail technicians at the salon. She is absolutely hilarious and fun to be around. We started a tradition over a year ago that we look forward to every week: Lunch.

Not just “LUNCH”, mind you…we take turns making lunch for each other. I enjoy cooking very much, but I happen to enjoy when my food is prepared for me even more sometimes! The Co-op Lunch (is that a real term, or did I just make it up? I like it.) is a great way to avoid the “Blah, THIS again?” type of internal dialogue when you always make your own lunch, and it can also save a load of moolah.

This is actually not the first time I’ve enjoyed the tradition of Co-op Lunching. One of my oldest friends and I, when we were both newly married to our Navy guys, lived in the same neighborhood and carpooled to Old Dominion University. One of us (I’ll give her the credit) came up with the brilliant idea to Co-op Lunch, so we could each get a break. Although I remember a lot of PB&J sandwiches and popcorn, not alot stands out for me about those lunches except that we just had fun being together.

Those were the days too when, in our early 20’s, we would have sleepovers when the guys were out to sea and end up getting giddy at 2 a.m. and ballet dancing around the living room. I’ll save that story for another day but I do want to say that now, in our…ahem…late-30’s to early 40’s, ballet dancing in the living room is still something we would totally do together, because she’s that kind of friend.

Anyway, back to Co-op Lunches with Caroline. When we started, it was mostly just plain old salads with a granola bar and a piece of fruit or something. As time went on, we moved into Greek Salads. (Yum) It became a tradition for the one who was not making lunch that week to ask, “Where are we going for lunch today, Greece?”

Soon we were “going” all over the place: Italy, New York, New Orleans, California, Mexico, you name it. We have had some real fun with our lunch menus. One of the funny things to us is that we’ve offered others a place in our lunch rotation, but nobody else there wants the responsibility, so it remains an intimate lunch for two. We get comments/complaints on how the hard-boiled eggs or the red onions smell too strong in the salon, or questions about why we went to so much trouble, and we just laugh and keep eating. In fact, we really enjoy being extra fancy, to get on everyone’s nerves. While everyone is either warming up a microwaved meal or picking up the $15 lunch from down the street, we are eating on the finest salon “china” plates. Once I even brought the ingredients for BLTs, as well as my toaster so we could have freshly toasted bread for the sandwiches.

Here are a couple of examples for you:


Here’s the set-up on the “china”. Usually, especially if Caroline brought lunch, there will be loud explanations of what is going on the plates.


This was the day she made stuffed chicken breasts and sweet potatoes. Yummy!


Salmon and homemade cole slaw, anyone? (These two photos were taken with my cell phone, which is why they are so small!)

02 14 08 1205

My specialty: California Cobb Salad!

If you can find someone at work to Co-op Lunch with, I highly recommend it. Caroline and I only do it once each week (we’d do it more often but only work together once each week!), but it’s a highpoint! Any questions about logistics? Ask me! LOL


  • Melissa

    That would be awfully sweet but I think I’d have to get a job first and I’m just not that motivated for lunch!!

    Thanks for sharing a special moment with us!! 🙂

  • Lindz

    That is such a good job. Once I get one of those, I will have to start doing that too. Though I can say right now that I do bring egg salad sandwiches for my cooperating teacher because I know he likes them.

  • Stacey

    OH MY GOSH! That is so awesome. I would love the recipe for your salad–it looks fabulous. What a terrific idea. I stay home with their kids, but I would love to have a lunch buddy!

  • Sauntering Soul

    So much fun!

    I used to be in a book club. Each month we would have a huge meal and everything had to be based around the theme of the book we read that month. One girl was always in charge of the alcoholic beverages. The hostess provided the main dish. Everyone else brought sides and desserts.

    One of the more interesting meals was when we had read the book called “Sex with Kings”. We had chicken a la king, king crab salad, etc. Everyone went with the ‘king’ part of the theme. Except me. I brought Better Than Sex cake. heh.

  • Melisa

    Melissa: No, no, no…don’t let the lure of a great Co-op Lunch start you on a job hunt! LOL

    Lindz: That’s so nice of you to bring him those sandwiches! Once you get settled into a good job you should definitely try it.

    Qweenie: I know! LOL

    Stacey: Not really a “recipe”, but here you go…Throw some romaine into a big bowl. Add avocado, red onion, grilled chicken, turkey bacon, tomato, a sliced hard-boiled egg, and cheese (I use cheddar in this one but you can use feta or blue cheese if you want). I’ve been nuts over the new “Salad Spritzers” instead of dressing because you can use just a little bit. Enjoy! 🙂

    Sauntering: That sounds like a ton of fun! I want to be in a book club like that! ROFL about the “Better than Sex” cake! (My mom has that recipe, I think!)

    Manic: HA! Of course you did! I forgot to mention that. Caroline is a “health nut” and brings that kind of stuff in all the time. Actually that particular Fiber One bar is quite good. It’s chocolate chip! You should try it! Really!

  • Kathy Likes Pink

    That is a great idea! And all the meals look so scrumpious. I don’t know if I could pull that off.

    Love your comments about your ballet-dancing friendship. Girl friends are the best!

  • Don Mills Diva

    What a fabulous idea! I would start that tradition with someone in my office if I weren’t so determined to make lunch my alone time. That salad looks AMAZING!

  • Anonymous

    WOW! Your co-op lunches certainly have come a loooonnngg way from our pb and js. 🙂

    Thanks for the memories. They certainly were good times!

    And we DO drive our former Navy men crazy with our wonderful ballet skills and our tiaras…not to mention our skills in playing Spades! LOL


  • Melisa

    Kathy: You could totally pull it off; some days I just end up making turkey sandwiches! LOL

    DMD: I know exactly what you’re talking about. In a salon environment though, there IS NO ALONE TIME. LOL!

    Dawn! ROFL! Thanks for reminding me that I need to post about OUR tiara-wearing adventures! Look for that in the next week or so! 🙂

  • Andie

    God, I WISH I had someone to do that with. I work with all men- who don’t cook. LOL

    share your california cobb salad recipe, please. It looks YUM-O!

    and if you need “new orleans” recipes, let me know!