Raise your hand if every day for lunch you prepare a homemade, Instagram-ready meal featuring seasonal ingredients sourced from local farms. Or maybe you sit down to a dazzling Michelin-star spectacle of culinary genius. Perhaps, on any given Tuesday, you tuck into a gorgeous bowl of glistening sashimi caught by Hawaiian fishermen, with your feet in the sand and the South Pacific sun overhead.
Doesn't sound like you? No, me neither.
For most of us with careers, families, pets, hobbies, or the endless slew of other things competing for our ever more limited time, lunch is less gourmet affair, more obstacle to leap over on the way to whatever else it is you have to be doing. Deadlines loom, appointments await, and that laundry's not going to do itself.
The solution? Sometimes it's a super-fast and dead-simple meal in a box that you can throw together while answering email.
In a dream world, of course, you've planned ahead or you have enough time to whip up a salad or other quick real-food sustenance that will nourish and delight. But on the days when even that's too much, when, say, you have eleventy-hundred irons in the fire, there is a time and a place for the Costco two-minute lunch.
In Defense of the 2-Minute, $6 Costco Lunch
I was thrilled when I saw Costco's "Hawaiian-Style Kit" on my most recent outing. I'd only just learned that poke was a thing you could find at Costco, and may have actually shouted yesssss when I spotted the colorful bowls containing "dolphin-safe, wild-caught smoked ahi tuna poke," next to the tubs of pesto.
At $12 for two bowls, and two minutes of prep, I was ecstatic. The cashier was equally giddy when she slid it across the scanner; it had only just landed in Louisville, it seems.
Not long after, in the throes of multiple deadlines and the never-ending laundry and cleaning cycle involved with running a full time Airbnb, I took a few minutes to sit down (which I don't always do) outside in my courtyard to catch up on some online reading while I ate my lunch and enjoyed the early fall sunshine.
This blessed respite came courtesy of spending only two minutes actually making lunch: I ripped open the rice packet — no scissors needed! — microwaved it for 45 seconds, put the smoked ahi tuna over it, drizzled it all with the poke sauce, and showered it with the spice kit contents. Boom, lunch is served, with not even so much as a dish to wash.
So how was it? Not bad at all — especially when you keep in mind it's poke in a box from a grocery store.
I shared the good news with my social channels and there erupted a frenzy of good cheer. "I need these," "You have made my week," "I'm going to get this tonight," came responses from my fellow working friends.
Then, the next morning That Guy (you know the type I'm talking about) responded with a photo of the authentic poke he'd enjoyed "from the Heeia Kea Pier General Store & Deli, located on the same wharf where the fishermen return with their catch." As if that wasn't enough, he felt compelled to add, "I'm sorry, but this is the way poke was meant to be eaten. Grocery-store poke with a two-week shelf life? That seems ... sad."
I'm ashamed to say it, but after seeing that little comment first thing in the morning, I rapid-fired several increasingly fired-up responses before I could even finish my coffee. Foodie feud: on! I'll see your fresh-caught Hawaiian poke and raise you one bountiful bowl (see above) I enjoyed at Umekes on Kona island on the recommendation of a local food writer.
What really irked me, though, was not that he assumed I hadn't experienced real poke, but his judgment of my store-bought tuna bowl. Of course it's not the same thing as that boat-to-bowl I relished while cruising the Hawaiian islands. I'll appreciate my good fortune when I can eat the foods of my dreams and enjoy long, leisurely lunches.
As for the rest of the time? I'll appreciate the sanity-saving option of my two-minute Costco lunch.
What's your favorite cheap and easy weekday lunch?