Routine repasts
August 2nd, 2010
06:00 AM ET
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My father eats the exact same thing in the exact same chair for breakfast every day of the year. Two hard-boiled eggs, well-done toast with a healthy smear of blueberry jam, a bowl of oatmeal with a drizzle from the honey jar and a large glass of ice-cold Florida orange juice.

I’m the opposite, more the “variety is the spice of life” type of gal; fly by the seat of your (pajama) pants, if you will. I'm notorious for starting the day with leftover spaghetti carbonara on Monday, a peanut butter and banana sandwich on Tuesday and cottage cheese and fruit on Wednesday. That being said, there's always a piece of dark chocolate involved at some point in the A.M. spread.

Just as some of us take the same route to work, meals can become almost methodical, ritualistic: a comfort to prepare and as trusty as Old Yeller. As it turns out, we really are creatures of habit. Par example:

While filming “Friends,” cast members Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow ate the same Cobb salad every day for ten years. “Because if you're going to eat the same salad every day for 10 years, it'd better be a good salad, right?” Cox told the Los Angeles Times.

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps's "Breakfast of Champions” consists of three fried-egg sandwiches with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise, two cups of coffee, a five-egg omelet, a bowl of grits, three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar and three chocolate-chip pancakes.

Winston Churchill’s lunch more often than not included Pol Roger champagne.

Infamous Ponzi schemer, Bernie Madoff, always ate the same cream cheese, smoked salmon and cucumber brown bread sandwich. (Well, until he was incarcerated.)

Contemporary art god Andy Warhol said of Campbell's soup, "I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for twenty years, I guess, the same thing over and over again."

For the entire month of April, blogger Nick Sherman ate nothing but pizza. (... And lived to tell about it)

This systematic eating sound like you or someone you know? Give us a play-by-play in the comments below. We'll share the especially repetitious ones in an upcoming feature.



soundoff (226 Responses)
  1. BFBlogger

    Although I do eat the same breakfast five days a week – Crispix/Coffee – I also eat the same lunch every day – two corn tortillas, turkey, cheese. And for dinner I have been eating green beans as a side dish for almost two years! Although I vary the main course – salmon mostly, but steak, pork chop, veal chop – the beans are a must, as is either a red potatoe or yam. And if I don't have my protein bar, same flavor for ten years, at 10:00am, I get very crabby. Seriously, what is that?

    September 30, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  2. Amina

    While I am adventurous with my food choices, I am also a creature of habit. I eat the same combination for breakfast every day: bowl of cereal, granola bar and coffee. While there is some variation in my choice of cereal and granola bar, it makes my life easy in the morning to know exactly what I need to grab and go.

    September 14, 2010 at 9:58 am | Reply
  3. Linda

    I've been eating the same meal for lunch and dinner (tuna salad sandwich from Subway with lettuce and tomato) for about 3 yrs. Why? Because 3 years ago, I had a reaction to a prescription medicine and couldn't swallow for 10-12 days. I lived on a liquid diet for those days until I could finally manage tuna salad.

    It's cheap (I eat half a foot-long, so I figure I'm spending about $6 per day for meals) and I'm working through lunch and at the keyboard during dinner so I want something that fits in my hand and doesn't get in my way while I'm working.

    September 14, 2010 at 8:59 am | Reply
  4. Jessa

    Not quite sure if this fits in with the subject but for the last 15 years or so I can only bear to eat white foods. No dairy, no meat only things like bread, pasta, rice, and crackers. I had really bad acid reflux as a teen so even when I eat a meal it has to small then I'll wait a couple days because I'm afraid to try again. Last friday my mother forced a silce of peach on me – I have not felt comfortable yet to eat again since even though I did not get sick.

    September 13, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Reply
  5. Gospace

    I'll eat the same thing for any particular meal three days in a row. Not four; on the fourth day, it changes.

    August 3, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  6. Jen

    Every day during the school year is the same for breakfast and lunch...a Clif bar and coffee for breakfast and water and Chobani yogurt for lunch.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:06 am | Reply
  7. Christine

    What an egocentric people we are–to think that anyone else cares about what we eat for breakfast. It's a version of the "status update," showing merely that we know how to talk about ourselves–and only in incremental moments. If only people would put this much effort into voting, picketing, protesting, volunteering, or doing anything that actually creates change! The fact that people only know or care about their own habits is pathetic! This is the longest discussion of any page I've seen on this site today.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:08 am | Reply
    • Terry

      Oh lighten up. Try it maybe you'll be happier. Most of us are just poking fun at ourselves and realizing we're not crazy and that there's others just like us. If you don't want to read these then don't.

      August 3, 2010 at 6:29 am | Reply
  8. Terry

    My breakfast and lunch are pretty much the same everyday with the exception of some weekend lunches when I'm not at home. A couple of years ago I did decide to get a little wild so I started rotating my main course for breakfast. Prior to that it was always a bowl of Special K, 1/2 a grapefruit, 1/2 a bagel, a glass of orange juice, and one biscoff cookie with my decaf coffee. When I went out on the wild side I started rotating the Special K with regular oatmeal and blueberries, oatmeal with rasins, dates & walnuts, grits, 2 boiled eggs, or Cherrios. I also started eating an english muffin every 3rd day (1/2 bagel on each of the first two days). I've got to keep the rotation in order though. Lunch has pretty much stayed the same which is a salad. I have changed the extras I put on the salad over time but basically it's 3 different types of lettuce (spinach, romaine & red leaf), 1/2 a boiled egg, cheese, black beans, bacon bits, tomatoes, onions, and carrots. I alternate the dressing with ranch & thousand island. I also have a yougurt (2 a day 1 at lunch and 1 after dinner), 1/2 a graham cracker, a piece or two of bread and to top it off 2 Hershey Kisses out of the freezer.
    It may seem like a lot but I do exercise 6 days a week. Lost about 50 pounds 8 years ago and I kept it off with this routine. Exercise is a big part of the weight control but if I stop that I'll have to eat less which I don't want to do. I also have fruit for a morning snack and either almonds or walnuts for an afternoon snack.

    August 2, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Reply
  9. fox

    oatmeal for breakfast, with a dose of honey or if i run out of honey, maple syrup. sometimes with ginger cookies. then when i get to the office, a cuppa soya milk, with a soupy cup of seaweed strands (whatever you're supposed to call it), bamboo shoots (there are various kind and i don't know their specific names), and that's it. yum. been doing this for 9 months, i weigh 48kgs and my height's 160. pretty alright.

    August 2, 2010 at 10:11 pm | Reply
  10. Claire

    I'm an avid exerciser (60-120 minutes of medium to high intensity cardio training everyday), so I need a breakfast that will fuel me for the day. For the last three years, my breakfast has consisted of the following:
    -1/2 Cup Oatmeal made with 1/2 c. water and 1/2 c. milk
    -1 apple (preferably gala or pink lady)
    -3/4 Cup plain fat free yogurt with drizzle of honey
    -1 other serving of fruit (usually an orange/citrus in winter, and peaches/strawberries/melons in summer)
    -coffee with 1 tbs. of fat free french vanilla creamer and 1 splenda sugar packet

    In addition to the same breakfast, I also always eat an apple at lunch, and before bed (yes, I've been eating three apples a day for three years. I actually have a collage of apple stickers I collected for a couple months to prove a point), along with a serving or two of frozen yogurt (come on, who can only eat 1/2 cup of of ice cream and be done???).

    And now it is 8:04 pm and I'm thinking it is about time for that apple and frozen yogurt...yumm-o :D

    August 2, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  11. Josh

    Another bodybuilder diet checking in.
    Meal Plan:

    Meal 1: 2 whole eggs & fill the pan with egg whites
    1 piece of fruit
    Meal 2: protein shake
    Meal 3: chicken breast w/ sweet baby ray's
    frozen mixed veggies
    1 piece of fruit
    Meal 4: protein shake
    Meal 5: chicken breast w/ sweet baby ray's
    steamed broccoli

    You could say I'm a bit regimented..but with a purpose

    August 2, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Reply
  12. cohjesplux

    I noticed that i buy and eat systematically the same 10-12 items. I could grocery-shop with my eyes closed.. you could take a picture of my fridge at any time during the year, and find the same stuff in it..
    Been doing it for years, it's pretty scary! But i go out often, or eat at pple's places, and i'm not picky!

    August 2, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Reply
  13. Gilles

    I eat everything. Lunch n Dinner

    August 2, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Reply
  14. Gene

    What about people who eat not only the same thing routinely, but the routine of eating the routine food is the same as well? For instance: A plate with scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and say maybe a bowl of oatmeal... all eaten ONE item at a time. Eat all the eggs first, then the bacon, then the toast, then all the oatmeal... never mixing any of it together. This would be an old girlfriend of mine who does that, and can't imagine ever eating say a the toast with a little egg and a bit of bacon on it, then using that same toast to perhaps lift a little dab of oatmeal on it with... she would puke. Literally. We broke up.

    August 2, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Reply
    • fishersmom

      my mother in law does this too!

      January 23, 2013 at 8:43 pm | Reply
  15. EricaAmy

    The curious culinary habits of the Italians has them really boxed in. My in-laws (here in Italy) have rules for every food pairing and order. Golden rule for breakfast: It must always be sweet and caffeine laden. Espresso, milk, biscotti, brioche, and toast are all acceptable. They think I'm absolutely crazy and poke fun when I occasionally make an omelette for breakfast. Lunch is broken up into four clearly divided parts (along with the bread): 1) antipasto (a couple of pieces of salame and a few olives), 2) pasta/rice/or gnocchi (and must never be mixed with any meat, with the exception of fish, but only in the summer). 3) Some kind of meat or fish with vegetables, 4) Fruit. You must have fruit after all this and to refuse it would be strange. There are people here that eat exactly like this every day of their lives. Don't get me started on the rules for snacking and dinner.

    August 2, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Reply
  16. Dalton

    I start my day out with a double cheeseburger, fries, onion rings, a chocolate shake, two cokes, and three cups of coffee with my five cigarette.

    Lunch is always pizza, bread sticks, a plate of pasta, two bottle of red wine, pie or cake, more coffee and at least ten cigarettes.

    Dinner consists of three hot dogs as appetizers, nachos with cheese, followed by at least two types of pork, mashed potatoes (plenty of butter), french fries, onion rings, ice cream on cherry pie, five cups of coffee and at least 15 cigarettes.

    A late night snack is usually a variety of cookies, potato chips (sweet/salt), pretzels, ice cream, two or three Big Gulps, and a half pack of cigarettes.

    *I know this all sounds terrible, but I do take a daily vitamin run at least 25 feet a day and watch all of the health shows on Discovery and the Animal Planet.

    August 2, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Reply
  17. mhigbe

    I definitely go through food phases. For a year when I was working from home, breakfast was always just coffee on the weekdays (I'm not a breakfast fan). Lunch was always a toasted everything bagel with reduced-fat whipped cream cheese, capers, red onions and lox. Dinner varied – everywhere from cheese and a glass of red wine, to brisket, to bacon... whatever I felt like.
    The one condiment I can't live without is Cholula. Buffalo wings must be consumed once a week. Burgers every 2 weeks. Steaks once a month.

    August 2, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  18. hello

    IT guy, I beg to differ- don't assume he's out of shape. I for example am very active in my lifestyle and have a pretty darn good body if I say so myself!

    August 2, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Reply
  19. Nerd Alert

    This is kind of funny... I guess I didn't think anything of it, but I eat the same thing for breakfast every day as well. I have a small bowl of Multi Grain Cheerios, two hard boiled egg whites (I skip the yolks), 8 oz. of Skim Milk (on my cereal), and a cup of coffee with a little splenda added. Then for a morning snack I eat a cup of Greek Yogurt. I usually add variety to my lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner.

    August 2, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Reply
  20. messickc

    An interesting tidbit: Eating the same thing every day is a quirk of those of us with adult ADHD.

    August 2, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Reply
  21. Liz

    I have brought the same lunch to work every day for the past two years. Make fun of me all you want but it's helped me lose weight and has allowed me to indulge in the good stuff on weekends and dinners out with friends. I bring a Danon Light & Fit yogurt, a piece of fruit (typically an apple, orange or banana), 7 baby carrots (yes, I count them), and a Kashi granola bar or occasionally I'll make my own homemade granola. It's a well-balanced meal when you add them together and if I'm busy with meetings or have to run errands on my lunch break then I'll break them up as mini snacks throughout the day.

    August 2, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Reply
  22. Antiquity

    I eat a HUGE bowl containing:
    Ezekiel cereal, rolled oats, 1 scoop brown rice protein powder, chia seeds, cinnamon, and enough almond milk to make it a thick, oatmealy consistency (but I eat it cold). Other people think it's gross, but I have developed a taste for it and love it. Occasionally I switch up the cereal, and have eggs maybe 1-2 times a week instead.

    August 2, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  23. Sb

    As a kid, growing up in Ethiopia, I ate dry bread and tea till the age of 18. As long as I rememebr for almost 14 years every day.

    August 2, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Reply
  24. JPM

    During the week (I always switch things up on the weekend) I have two eggs and a glass of milk for breakfast, an orange an hour or so later, a sandwich for lunch, a banana a couple hours later and that's where my routine ends since for dinner I eat a variety of things.

    I'm a 28 yr old Male.

    August 2, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Reply
  25. OOOYOOO

    My breakfast:
    piece of homebake bread with butter or jam, and a cup of coffee

    August 2, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Reply
  26. Marc

    I eat the same thing practucally every day because my imagination spends its time dreaming about things I can make, not what to eat.

    Some people think about food, other people think about other things.

    August 2, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Reply
  27. Chris

    I eat a bagel with cream cheese and a breakfast essentials protein shake every morning, then half a vitamin water on my bike ride to work. Once there, I eat a whole grain pop-tart and a banana followed by 2 left-overs. Before I ride home, I drink a special k protein shake and eat a balance bar, and while riding I drink the other half of my vitamin water.

    I think the routine is good because it keeps enough food in me for the amount I exercise.

    August 2, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Reply
  28. Situational

    In the perfect circumstances, I do tend to eat the same foods for breakfast. However, since they aren't typical breakfast foods (chicken, fish or turkey, beans, and vegetables), I do actually have a lot of variety. Using one different vegetable can change the whole meal, and switching out the protein often helps as well. Sometimes I'll add in toast or eggs or bacon in an attempt to eat actual breakfast foods for breakfast.

    On the other hand, if I'm running late or low on energy in the morning, I'll grab a bagel or granola bar or, once in awhile, a chicken biscuit from a fast food place. Very occassionally I'll go out to a formal breakfast with my mother or friends, and then I'll get waffles, bacon, eggs and/or fruit.

    So I guess I don't eat the same thing every day, but more often than not I stick to my dinner-at-breakfast routine.

    August 2, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  29. ARKAY

    I eat the same REGULAR OAT MEAL with skimmed milk everday..kinda got boredso started adding fruits and nuts to it these days..looking for somemore change to the oatmeal!!!!!!

    August 2, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Reply
  30. A

    Honey Nut Cherrios every single morning for breakfast since I graduated from college and started working 5 years ago.

    August 2, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Reply
  31. John

    I lost 100 pounds eating the exact same thing every day, at pretty much the same time every day. This was 8 years ago and I've kept the weight off, but once I lost the weight I switched back to making choices.

    August 2, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Reply
  32. Amy

    Excellent look at food simplicity, a 40-day "variety fast" done by a friend.

    http://pickfive.blogspot.com/

    August 2, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Reply
  33. Ben

    We have an epidemic of health problems due to bad nutrition (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, to name a few). Is it possible that some of the eating rituals described in this forum are bringing on debilitating, life altering complications?

    August 2, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Reply
  34. Ron

    6 egg whites, a bag of baby carrots, a banana and a cup of black coffee every weekday morning...a tuna sandwich on 1 slice bread (lite mayo), large salad (no fat balsamic) and no sugar added fruit cup every weekday afternoon...1/2 a Clif Builder protein bar 2 times a day for snack every weekday...Dinner and weekends are where I am free for some variety, but try to keep it fairly healthy. Lost 40 pounds (diet along with P90X) in 2 months and feeling pretty good at 165 lbs at age 40.

    August 2, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Reply
    • ARKAY

      mmmm....sounds great....my mouths watering...

      August 2, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  35. Clara

    I'll get onto trends with food- like one week I'll eat an avacado with salt and cous cous for lunch. Or Greek yogurt with fruit every morning. For the most part though I do enjoy a bit of variety.

    August 2, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  36. Lori

    yes.. I eat the same thing everyday .. even on trips and vacation I take my breakfast food with me. I eat something different for dinner on most nights, but for the most part it has been the same things .. I enjoy the taste.. and have lost over 100 pounds eating this way.. I have kept it off for 4 months, and really do not have food problems because this keeps me from carb triggers and sugars. I work out as well as eat right.
    Feels great !
    Not for everyone.. but is working for me...

    August 2, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  37. BOB

    Did you actually get paid to write this article?

    August 2, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  38. Onlyours40

    I'm in the Army...deployed to Iraq where routines can be hard to follow but I've done it...I have eaten Special K yogart and berries with skimmed milk and a piece of fruit with a One-A-Day essential multi-vitamin everyday since I got in country...even repeated the craziness when I went home on leave...

    August 2, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Reply
  39. will

    lifted from one of my favorite movies:

    Grandpa: Well let me tell you something now, Johnny. Last Thursday, I turned 95 years old. And I never exercised a day in my life. Every morning, I wake up, and I smoke a cigarette. And then I eat five strips of bacon. And for lunch, I eat a bacon sandwich. And for a midday snack?

    John: Bacon.

    Grandpa: Bacon! A whole damn plate! And I usually drink my dinner.

    August 2, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Reply
  40. Hal

    This is a major point of contention at my house. For me, eating is like shaving: if I didn't have to do it, I wouldn't. It just wastes time. My wife, on the other hand, is a "foodie" and loves planning elaborate meals and picking exciting restaurants. I don't have a hatred of food – there is a really good French restaurant near me that I love going to when we can afford it, but if the food isn't fantastic, why bother? I've eaten the same thing for lunch every day for the past 25 years: a ham sandwich. And my wife knows very well what to buy for me when she and the kids are away for dinner: cans of baked beans. The point is not the blandness, but the easiness and reliability. It's very easy to make a ham sandwich, and it's very easy to cook a can of baked beans.

    I am also the designated baker in our house, something I did long before I met my wife. I am the one who bakes the cokies, cakes, pancakes, waffles, and specialty breads, all from scratch. I love the process of making something. But more than just a bite, I probably won't eat it. I'd rather spend my time more productively.

    August 2, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Reply
  41. Julie

    I do eat the same thing most days during the week! Turkey breakfast sausage for breakfast, a frozen meal for lunch, and turkey sausage with lima beans for dinner. I just need things that are quick and simple with my day job - and I go crazy on the weekend, cooking and baking up a storm for myself and my blog, so I have to reign it in during the week.

    Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
    http://willowbirdbaking.wordpress.com

    August 2, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Reply
  42. filigreegirl

    During the work week my breakfast will be either two hard boiled eggs with salt and three grinds of pepper or a toasted cheese on pita bread, both of which can easily be taken to the office and eaten throughout the morning. I have to eat later in the day than when I leave for work. Every other meal I try to make different. I'd shop daily if I could, but time doesn't allow. Now coffee, on the other hand, two cups immediately upon rising, always made the same way, must be consumed while sitting cross-legged in my reading chair, alone and in silence. Fortunately my daughter and husband caught on quickly, and my husband likes it quiet in the morning also so it works out well for us.

    August 2, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  43. Tom - breakfast for more than 50 yrs

    2 eggs (most days poached), 2 bowls of oatmeal (whole milk, ground flaxseeds, millet), coffee, fruit (some days)

    August 2, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  44. iwasframed

    I eat the same thing for breakfast everyday and I stretch breakfast out over the morning. Around before I leave the house it's a glass of OJ and vitamins, once I get to work it's coffee and a yogurt, about 1 hr later another cup of coffee and oatmeal, then about an hour later a handful of almonds. Been well over a year, and I'm still not tired of it

    August 2, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Reply
  45. Rose

    Not being a food lover enables me to keep my day simple. Oatmeal, yagart, power bar, grilled chicken, coffee, apples, banana, peanut butter on a slice of whole wheat bread, occasional 60 calorie pudding or ice pop, Fage lowfat plain yogart, Kashi cereal with skim milk. 100 calorie pack of cookies. Drink about 10 glasses of water with lemon.

    August 2, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Reply
  46. BeaconOfDarkness

    I've been having squid on ice at lunchtime for a while now. My friend is a fisherman and works down by the dock. On my "lunch break" I swing by for some fresh squid and ice cubes. My jackass secretary thinks I'm a complete wackjob, but who cares?
    At night, I typically enjoy a plate of toaster strudels, WITHOUT the icing. Any flavor strudel will do, but I'm a fan of raspberry right now. A tall glass of cherry coke and then I'm off to sleep in my La-Z-Boy. Ahhhh, the life.

    August 2, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Reply
    • LightBulbBoy

      Is the fisherman's name Richard aka the black momba?

      August 2, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Reply
      • TeflonDon

        Yea, what's the fisherman's name? I think I might know this squid supplier...if you know what I mean ;)

        August 2, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Reply
  47. Hill

    Breakfast everyday I eat one pack of instant oatmeal (maple/brown sugar) & for lunch Goya Black Beans & Baby Carrots…dinner I eat whatever I prepare for FAM

    August 2, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Reply
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