Mexico has the siesta and Spain has the comida, a multi-course meal spanning several hours in the late afternoon. The rest of us worker-bees? Many of us eat lunch exactly where we work... and we're far from happy about it.

“I hate eating at my desk,” says Cheryl Aronson, an office manager for a commercial real estate office in Long Island, N.Y. “No one realizes I'm ‘at lunch’ and I don't want to be bothered with work stuff.”

To try to catch a break, Aronson hangs a sign on the back of her chair that says “out to lunch.”

“It doesn't really work,” she admits.

But even if the interruptions can’t be prevented, a mediocre desk lunch can. Here are five ways to take the blahs out of eating lunch in front of the computer screen.

1. Let’s Dish: Eating off a real plate just seems to taste better. “I don't do anything too fancy, but our office has some vintage china that I'll eat off of,” says Aronson. Sometimes, she packs her lunch in a bento box. “It makes me feel a little ‘hipsterish,’” she says. “I also bring in enough of whatever I'm eating for everyone else to try and I totally serve that on the china.” It’s hard to get lonely with all of those hands in your food.

2. Make the Cut: Though your co-workers may tease, don’t be afraid to keep a cutting board and a reasonably sized knife at your desk. Anything bigger than a small slicer, and you might want to clear it with HR. What can a cutting board do for your desk? Let us count the ways. Slice small melons up for breakfast. Add some salami, and you have a desk-size charcuterie board. And there’s just something comforting about being able to slice up a chunk of cheese while putting together your umpteenth spreadsheet. It’s like a tiny picnic for your desk. 

3. Spice it Up: What’s better than tiny packets of stale ground pepper? Anything, really. It’s nice to have a small jar of sea salt on hand for when your soup is bland, and even better to have some decent pepper in a tiny grinder. What’s more, you won’t realize how much you’ve needed to keep some hot sauce in your desk drawer until you try it. Like a little shake of nutmeg in your coffee? A pinch of cinnamon? Stock your desk with what makes you happy

4. Think Outside the Microwave: Come summer, there’s just no need to think about hot lunches. Instead, try making cold Asian noodle salads by boiling some soba noodles or whole-wheat spaghetti on Sunday. Then, throughout the week, mix those noodles with Asian dressing, raw vegetables and sesame seeds, shrimp, or whatever else strikes your fancy. Or, make penne pasta salad with fresh herbs, pulled chicken, scallions, olive oil and vinegar.

5. Above All, Plan Ahead: No one wants to shove food into a lunch box while running late for work. Instead, learn to spend a few hours over the weekend to set yourself up for the busy week ahead. Make a giant batch of grains on Sunday, then portion it out for grain salads throughout the week. Or make a big batch of stew on Sunday, and then nab a little for lunch every day. After dinner, set aside some of that leftover roast chicken for sandwiches.

It’s an invaluable habit to get into. And it just might help make the “sad desk lunch” a thing of the past.