Now that Labor Day Weekend’s over and everyone’s snapping out of lazy vacation mode, you might find yourself spending more time at the office to play catch-up. If you’re eating lunch at your desk more often than not these days, you’re not alone: sixty-two percent of office workers report that they typically eat lunch at their desks. But not every desk lunch has to be a #saddesklunch! Here’s how to give your midday meal a well-deserved promotion.
Fork it over — Give your meal a boost with silverware and a proper plate and bowl. In one study, people ate the same yogurt with a plastic spoon and a metal one, and rated it 15 percent tastier when eating with real flatware.
Play dress up — According to a survey by Bon Appétit Management (which operates cafés at companies and universities), 94 percent of millennials think customizing their meals is important. Make it easy to tweak your lunch with a stash of flavored olive oils and vinegars, or your favorite hot sauce.
Call a friend — Grab lunch with your coworkers—it might make you even better at your job. One recent study found that firefighters who ate together performed better than those who dined apart, an effect that also applies to those who wield Excel files instead of fire hoses, according to Kevin Kniffin, the study’s author. Eating with friends is more fun, too!
Ready for your lunch break? Try these cool recipes made from brand new supermarket products. The best part? You can whip ‘em up right in your breakroom!
Vietnamese Noodle Soup — Break 1 oz. thin rice noodles in half; place in 2-cup jar with a lid. Fill jar with boiling water; close lid. Let sit 20 minutes; drain. Add 1 1⁄2 cups Nona Lim’s Vietnamese Pho Broth ($6.99). Microwave, uncovered, until noodles are tender, about 2 minutes. Top with bean sprouts, halved sugar snap peas, shredded chicken, cilantro, mint and sriracha.
Sausage & Egg Toast – Microwave 2 Johnsonville Fully Cooked Breakfast Patties ($3.99) until hot, about 40 seconds. Crack an egg into a water-filled bowl. Microwave 1 minute, then cook in 15-second bursts until white is opaque, about 30 seconds more. Place egg and sausage on a toasted slice of Pepperidge Farm 3 Cheese Italian Bread ($3.99); season. Top with halved cherry tomatoes.
– By Cecily McAndrews and Grace Rasmus; Photography by Aaron Dyer
We like to consider ourselves the recipe experts, but we also give props where they’re due, and man, have supermarkets been upping their recipe game lately. For our Grocery Store Grill-Off story in the July/August 2016 issue, we scoped out the sites of several well-known grocery chains, and what we found surprised us—positively!—in scale (Whole Foods has almost 4,000 dishes!), quality (still talking about the Aldi burger we tried…), and creativity (I ended up watching Stop & Shop’s videos for fun).
In order to pick our favorite, though, it all came down to the food. To have a fair test, we picked a Greek burger from each.
Here are the contestants:
As the weather gets warmer, we find ourselves craving smoothies all the time. So what did we do about it? We taste-tested over 100 store-bought smoothies to find the very best ones! In the Battle of the Bottled, we found five awesome winners available at your local supermarket— check them out in our June 2016 issue. But if you’re more of a DIY type, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite homemade smoothie recipes, too. Slurp’s up!
Store-bought: Evolution Fresh Defense Up. Stick a tiki umbrella in this combo of pineapple, mango and orange juices. It has no artificial sweeteners and delivers 310% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin C per serving. ($4.99 for 15.2 oz.)
Homemade: Kiwi-Pineapple Smoothies. If you love tart and fruity smoothies, this one’s for you. Try adding coconut milk to make it more like a piña colada.
Pamper Mom (especially if that’s you!) with spa treatments from your kitchen. They’re even better than breakfast in bed for giving her an ahhh-some Mother’s Day!
Chocolate & Strawberry Scrub
Berries and cocoa are high in skin-protecting antioxidants, and coarse sugar gently exfoliates, says Philip Berkovitz, food beauty guru and founder of Philip B Botanical Products.
‘Nduja and basil pasta sauce, organic kale and vegetable salsa, pine nut-topped hummus: they sound like they come from a very fancy lunch spot, but they’re actually all examples of amazing store-brand products featured in the April edition of Checkout. I love a bargain as much as the next person, which is why I usually opt for generic canned goods; even so, I was amazed at the quality of the products we tried. And we tried a lot—dozens, in fact—ranging from drinks to snacks to full meals and appetizers.
Kroger HemisFares Fiery ‘Nduja and Basil Pasta Sauce ($4.49 for 15 oz.)
Sprouts Organic Kale & Vegetable Salsa ($2.99 for 16 oz.)
Aldi Little Salad Bar Pine Nut Hummus ($1.99 for 10 oz.)
I shouldn’t have been surprised. Mintel published a study that said 63% of consumers think store brands are more innovative than they used to be. Judging from my consumption of Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies, I think it’s true.
Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies ($3.99 for 18)
Whole Foods Market Potato & Pea Samosas ($2.69 for 8)
Target’s Beekman 1802 Farm Pantry Ploughing the Earth Granola ($4.99 for 10 oz.)
Check out why our editors chose these 6 products in the April issue, or scope out our totally adorable video on Instagram. What are your favorite store brands? Tell us in the comments!
By Cecily McAndrews
Be your own bartender with a top-notch, five-bottle home bar that lets you make pretty much any popular cocktail and costs only $100. We’ll drink to that!
Five spirits experts share the bottles that deliver the best bang for your Benjamin. Try these pro picks to make your living room the best bar in town!
Plantation 3 Stars White Rum ($18 for 750 ml)
“This is one of my favorite white rums for any budget. An aged blend of Caribbean rums, it adds hints of tropical fruit to any drink, especially a daiquiri.” —Blair Reynolds, owner of bar and restaurant Hale Pele in Portland, OR
Another great pick
Boozy Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum will wake up a mai tai—or any tiki drink. ($19 for 750 ml)
Citadelle Gin ($25 for 750 ml)
“Leave it to the French to come up with a delightfully flavorful gin. (No wonder: it’s made with nearly 20 herbs, roots, spices and flowers.) It pairs particularly well with citrus. One Tom Collins, please.” —Paul Clarke, author of The Cocktail Chronicles
Another great pick
Juniper-heavy Gordon’s London Dry Gin is a steal, and ideal in a gin and tonic. ($13 for 750 ml)
Pueblo Viejo Blanco ($18 for 750 ml)
“This blanco tequila (which isn’t aged) is distilled in a traditional way. It has a citrusy, earthy flavor that shines in a margarita.” —Courtenay Greenleaf, corporate beverage director at Rosa Mexicano restaurants
Another great pick
Spicy Cimarrón Blanco offers fresh agave flavor. ($20 for 750 ml)
Tito’s Handmade Vodka ($21 for 750 ml)
“Corn-based Tito’s is one of the most bright- tasting, clean vodkas around—which is why it’s so delicious on the rocks or in a martini. I also love that it’s from Austin, my hometown.” —Christina Cabrera, bar consultant at San Francisco’s Barbarossa Lounge
Another great pick
Crisp Gruven Handcrafted Vodka, made from wheat and rye, is a cocktail go-to. ($11 for 750 ml)
W. L. Weller Special Reserve ($18 for 750 ml)
“I don’t make cocktails with anything I wouldn’t drink on its own. This bourbon has a sophisticated sweetness balanced by a fiery kick, which makes it great neat and in a mixed drink.” —Michael Neff, bar director at NYC’s Holiday Cocktail Lounge
Another great pick
Aged in charred oak barrels, Jim Beam Black is just as complex as pricier bourbons. ($22 for 750 ml)
By Joshua M. Bernstein; Photography by Aaron Dyer
These delicious dips will have you dancing in the end zone! They beat out almost 200 other products to earn a spot in your Super Bowl spread.
Best Mild: Frontera Roasted Tomato Salsa
Celeb chef Rick Bayless’s smoky salsa has a trio of tomatoes (fire-roasted whole, juice and paste). OJ adds sweet citrus notes. ($3.99 for 16 oz.)
Freezer aisle finger foods are the key to no-sweat holiday parties. With these quick, from-scratch upgrades, no one will guess you’re serving store-bought!
Think outside the box–It’s not just for breakfast anymore! Sprinkle these morning treats into other meals for a sweet surprise.
Move over, Pumpkin Spice Latte! A whole slew of pumpkin-flavored items are hitting the grocery shelves and we promise, they won’t burn the roof of your mouth! Check out some of our favorite ways to get your pumpkin fix this fall: