7 Stinky Office Foods You Should Avoid Bringing to Work

With today’s tough times, eating out is a luxury that you might only be able to afford once in a while. Unless you have access to an expense account (or are independently wealthy), the best option is to bring a packed lunch from home. However, there are do’s and don’ts of bringing food to the office.

Rule number 1: don’t bring stinky foods. Remember that your workplace will usually rely on re-circulated air and any strong odors have the tendency to stick long after lunchtime.

Rule number 2: if you can manage it, bring enough to share with co-workers. Trust me, they’ll appreciate the extra goodies.

Here are a few things you might want to avoid for fear of being branded the office stinker.

There’s something satisfying about a warm bowl of curry, and it’s even better with rice. A staple in Indian and Asian cuisine, curry has found its way to the hearts (and stomachs) of the rest of the world as a comfort food. The spiciness and tang can surely awaken the senses. Even the aroma is appealing.
Unfortunately, that appeal is usually reserved for the person (or persons) eating it. For the rest of the office, the smell of curry will be reminiscent of something like body odor—definitely not satisfying. Reheating it in the microwave will even amplify the smell ten times. We’re not sure anyone can use that microwave oven anytime soon.

So, if you’re craving for Indian cuisine, have it at home. Or go to a restaurant.

Mexican Food
Tacos. Quesadillas. Nachos. Burritos. Mention any one of these, and our mouths will probably start to water. Mexican food usually goes well with beer or any other strong drink. Why? It’s because of the strong taste!

With all that garlic and onion, Tex-Mex food will often have the smell seeping into your clothes and skin…you’ll smell Tex-Mex until you get home and take a long shower. Add in those black beans, salsa and guacamole, and it’s not just the food that will smell offensive; you’ll probably be dropping stink bombs in the bathroom come coffee break time.

Popcorn is great for movies. Involuntarily raking in pieces of blown-up corn from the tub to your mouth sure makes for a great viewing experience, especially with a testosterone-filled action flick, or insufferable chick flick. Popcorn is also great for watching movies at home. Just pop a bag of Reddenbudder’s in the microwave oven, and you get yourself a satisfying movie treat a minute and a half afterward.

Unfortunately, this might not be so satisfying in an office setting. You see, corn has a way of smelling acrid and acidic hours past its consumption time. Burn some popcorn in the microwave and your office will probably smell like a men’s locker room right after the big game—stinking socks and all!

Popcorn is great at the movies, but not at the office!

There are literally hundreds of varieties of cheese from all over the world (about 670 plus) that you would never run out of choices. Cheese goes well paired with wine. If you’re a wine connoisseur, you probably want to pair your favorite vintage with your favorite cheese.

Unfortunately, it’s best not to be a wine and cheese guy at the office. So if you’re planning on bringing particularly stinky Limburger to the office, then prepare to be escorted by security out of the building.

Fish is great grilled, smoked or even fresh, as in sashimi or sushi. Tuna and salmon are particular favorites. However, there’s often something fishy about these food items and it’s just that: they’re fish.

If you’ve ever tried to visit the seafood section of your local market, you will be familiar with that fishy smell. If you’ve handled fish for cooking, you know how hard it is to take the smell off. The same goes with bringing fish for lunch.

Avoid fish at the office. There’s no amount of lemon in the world to cover up this stench.

Persian Food
If you’ve ever tried lamb kebabs, shawarma and other Persian fare, the strong taste will sometimes overwhelm you. Still, a lot of people appreciate the unique taste of this spicy cuisine.

Just like Indian food, Persian food will only taste and smell great to the person actually eating it. If you don’t heed our advice, you’d probably have people steering away from you, thinking you’re having a bad bout of body odor.


Vegetables are great for your health, yes. They provide a lot of vitamins and fiber. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of vegetables of the stinking variety. Chief among these are broccoli, cabbage and asparagus. You might wonder where that flatulence-like smell is coming from, but it might be too late to realize that it’s coming from your plate inside the microwave.

Even if we encourage healthy living through eating vegetables, we do discourage placing those veggies in the microwave.

Our advice: Stick to veggies that come with a neutral smell, like carrots and celery. And eat ‘em raw for extra nutrition!

If you can’t make it a day without any of these smelly fare, then you can perhaps plan to eat out all week. It’s good office etiquette to keep the premises clean and pleasant-smelling.

Dishonorable mention: Natto, eggs, garlic

Any foods you’d like to add to this stinky list?

J. Angelo Racoma blogs about  technology and productivity, and runs a virtual assistance and writing service at WorkSmartr.com . You can also see his latest articles and columns at TFTS and CMSWire.

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