Oh, the allure of free food. In my mind I mostly associate it with college. Especially on a big campus, it’s quite possible to plan every meal to get something for free by attending different clubs, presentations, etc. And in fact, I have a friend who did this for a little while!

But even post-college, it’s around. When we lived in Huntsville, we were involved in a lot of groups at church that involved food, so there were definitely several nights a week that I didn’t have to cook. That was a bit of a shock for me when we moved to Atlanta, because we hadn’t gotten invested anywhere yet and I was all of a sudden responsible for feeding us a lot more!

I got in a really good groove with that, as evidenced by my weekly meal plans. I cook dinner and use the leftovers for lunch, and Andy and I are both pretty much creatures of habit as far as breakfast goes. At my most recent employer, there were sometimes treats around, but mostly only at the holidays. Unfortunately, though, when those were in the kitchen I found it extremely hard to resist!

So imagine the temptation when I started working at a building that provides free snacks and sodas. I had practically given up diet soda, but I found myself drinking one every day again, just because they were around. And the chocolate covered pretzels called my name with all too much frequency.

Some of my fellow employees like and even count on there being free food around. We pick on one of our instructors who “meetup hops” for dinner every night (though she’s obviously getting value out of the meetup, too!). And on a couple of days when I forgot my lunch, I was glad there was stuff around to get me through the day. But that’s what it felt like–getting through the day. I wasn’t getting good nutrients from or even particularly enjoying the things I was shoveling in my mouth to fill my belly.

I’m trying to be really intentional now about making sure I bring lunch and snacks with me that I enjoy and that are good for me, even though there are technically snacks here. I have a budget for groceries every month, and I shouldn’t begrudge myself spending it! Just because the food here is free doesn’t mean it’s good. In fact, I would argue that free food is maybe the worst. I personally tend to eat more of it, or in worse combinations, than I would if I were paying for it, and you tend not to think about what you’re eating because you just eat what’s there. Free food has its place and time to be enjoyed, but in general it works best for me to eschew it.

Laura Lindeman

Laura Lindeman