Notes from a Cafeteria

October 14, 2011

My firm has a cafeteria.  It’s pretty nice, and offers a lot of options.  Better yet, it’s subsidized by the firm, so it’s cheap.

The problem, though, is that in order to get there, I have to go up 7 floors on one elevator, then walk around the corner and get on another elevator and then go up 13 more floors. The wait time for the second elevator is usually downright obnoxious.  I hate waiting.  Hate it, hate it, hate it.

So often, I choose to go downstairs, instead.  To the mall.

Like with any mall, there are several options (like with the cafeteria).  Some of them are healthy (like with the cafeteria). None of the healthy ones are also cheap (unlike with the cafeteria).  For example: the new grilled cheese place (YUM!!) is very cheap.  I can get a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato and basil for $3.50. They coat the bread with butter and put 10 slices on cheese on it … not healthy.  Or, I can get  salad, fresh-made to order with dressing mixed in for $10.  Not cheap.

But I do it anyway (usually choosing healthy over cheap … and I wonder why I’m broke at the end of the month).  Because it’s quick.

Yesterday, however, I went downstairs to find insanely long lines — for every single food option. Healthy, cheap, gross – you name it.  (My building is not only connected to a mall, it’s also connected to a convention center.  When the conventions break for lunch, we get inundated.)

Remember how I hate to wait?

So I went back upstairs to the cafeteria.

And I had an amazing lunch, for $5.75.  Grilled cajun talapia, a cup of tomato soup, and a bowl of caeser  salad.  It was delicious.  And $5.75. (half the cost of the salad I would have otherwise purchased … that salad that I’m pretty bored of, by the way).

The cafeteria is also pleasant.  It’s on a very high floor overlooking the Boston Harbor, the Charles River, Fenway Park, my town – all kinds of things.  It has large windows, and it’s always clean.  I am resolving to eat there every day.

Today, by the way, was the sushi bar.  I had a tuna roll and a salmon roll made fresh to order.  And it is, in fact, very fresh and delicious.  If I wasn’t up for that, I could have gone to the grill station and had a fresh-grilled flank steak, or a burger (with bacon and onion mixed into the ground beef), or a grilled chicken breast, or some more fish.  If I wasn’t up for that, I could have gone to the wood-oven station and gotten a slice of pizza, or a calzone.  If not that, I could have gone to the sandwich bar, where today’s specialty was the “Rachel” (like  Reuben, but with cole slaw instead of sauerkraut).  Or the double-sized salad bar.  Yeah.  It’s really dumb of me to keep going to the mall.

Cheap, healthy, fresh, made to order food?  Or over-priced, nasty chain fast food-food?  Duh.

There’s at least one aspect I’m going to have to get the hang of:

There are trays for your food, which is pretty typical of a cafeteria.  There are the black plastic ones, which are meant to be used if you are eating in the cafeteria (ha!), and also cardboard-like ones, for those of us (all of us) who are taking it back to our desks.  There’s a note up that says “please help the environment, use a plastic tray or re-use your cardboard trays!”

I’d been seeing a lot of people getting onto the elevator with their cardboard tray in hand, so I thoguht, “oh, I’ll get a cardboard one and reuse it!”

Yesterday, I got a cardboard one and promptly got salad dressing all over it.  Eew. I threw it away.

Today I got a cardboard one and thought to myself, “Dude, try and keep it clean this time.” But while eating my sushi, I got soy sauce on it. I have to throw it away.

I guess I need to either (a) learn to eat like a civilized person, or (b) get a freaking plastic tray.

[Although, the plastic trays confuse me.  I certainly can’t wait for the elevator 2 more times, just to return the tray.  But there also isn’t anywhere to clean it down here. I’ve seen some people just leave it on the counter in our mini-kitchen on our floor, but does someone pick them up?  Or are the people who leave them being obnoxious for assuming that there’s a maid service that comes around after them to discard their trash?]




  1. Omg I would so love a cafertia at my work luckily I live within walking distance…

  2. Is the food in a container that you could just carry back sans tray, or is it on a plate? You need a cigarette girl tray with the straps! Also, I am insanely jealous of your cafeteria.

    • On Thursday, I had 3 plates/bowls on the tray. The salad bowl, the soup cup, and the plate with the grilled fish. If I got the day’s entree, they would give me a to-go container that closes. But it is not environment-friendly.

  3. What about packing your lunch? Do you have a fridge and a microwave that you can use?

    • Yeah, yeah, yeah. You sound like my husband!

      Packing my lunch would be the most frugal of all the options. But I hate carrying my food, as it would mean a second bag (can’t risk food spilling on my computer/iPad), and that is a pain on the train!

      I do it sometimes. I’m not sure it’s healthier than that cafeteria, though.

  4. […] Suzie sings praises, […]

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