Joined: 24 Sep 2004 Posts: 443 Location: Paris, France
Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2009 12:24 pm Post subject: MARCH '09 DISCUSSION: Do You Pack Your Own Lunch?
Packed lunches have long held a special place in my heart. Though some might simply take up the habit as a money-saving strategy, and wisely so, I also think there is something warm and self-nurturing (quite literally) about planning a tasty and nutritious lunch for yourself to eat in the middle of a long, and perhaps difficult day at the office.
Now that I work from home, I don't really need to pack my own lunch anymore, but I do so vicariously by checking other people's lunch blogs, such as Maki's Just Bento or Biggie's Lunch in a box; you'll find many many more by typing "lunchbox blog" or "bento blog" in your favorite search engine.
So this month's question is, do you pack your own lunch? What sort of foods do you favor, what environmentally friendly containers do you use, and can you share your favorite packable recipes and tips?
Last edited by clotilde on Wed Apr 01, 2009 1:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
Well when summer's here I'll be taking rice/pasta salads to work with me. Usually the rice or pasta is a base around which to build other things. Mayonnaise, mustard, dressings feature, but cucumber, tomatoes, spring onions and coarse ground black pepper (unless I'm using mustard) all turn up. The rest is either chopped and fried bacon, chicken pieces from a roast, cooked flaked salmon or pine nuts.
In the autumn/winter I don't always take packed lunches. We don't have a microwave at work to heat things up and I'm only ten minutes walk away so if I'm near home I'll go home for lunch. Otherwise, it's fairly cheap to eat on campus so I'll buy lunch.
I always carry a bottle of water and some chocolate with me tho' to help keep me going during the day. There's nothing like chocolate in a two hour Physics/Economics lecture to make me feel a little better. _________________ Confusion comes fitted as standard.
Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2009 4:28 pm Post subject: Re: DISCUSSION OF THE MONTH: Do You Pack Your Own Lunch?
Hi, I just registered, so please forgive me if I mess this up!
I am a SAHM, but I do, pack my teenage daughter's lunch most days. She either takes a sandwich, chips and fruit, plus water, or leftovers.
So what she eats isn't as interesting as what she takes it in. Her BFF gave her a lunchbox for her birthday that looks like a colorful chinese takeout box. Her waterbottle is a stainless, spillproof, Thermos hydration bottle that works great! She leaves for school at 7:30 and when she comes home at 3:30 or so, it still has ice in it! Here's the URL for one at Amazon (so you can see what it looks like).
When she takes leftovers, I heat them and put them in an Aladdin Heat N Go container. They seem to be hard to find, but similar to this one at Amazon.
Joined: 01 Mar 2009 Posts: 10 Location: Palatine, IL
Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2009 5:44 pm Post subject:
Although I've browsed this site for a couple years and have both your books, I too, just joined today.
My husband and I get to lunch together daily. I usually pack leftovers from last night's dinner. I try to make dinners that will have leftovers for this reason. If there are no leftovers, I like to pack those frozen & micro-wavable Chinese dim sum delicacies, potstickers, shrimp for him, pork for me. And I make rice to go along with them. I HAVE to have rice!
Joined: 01 Mar 2009 Posts: 1 Location: San Francisco
Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2009 9:17 pm Post subject: Yes I pack my lunch!
As I live alone, and am not a huge eater, I end up throwing out lots of food, the most often being bread. Since I am a sandwhich for lunch kinda girl, I searched for and found a happy alternative: wraps! They come in all different flavors these days and seem to last forever in my frig. I currently have La Tortilla Factory Whole Wheat, which have a nutty flavor. Fillings vary: herbed sliced turkey breast with sliced havarti cheese, mayo, heirloom tomato and oak leaf lettuce. Also recent: sliced rare london broil, horseradish sauce, white cheddar cheese, avocado and butter lettuce.
One bonus of wraps: they travel much better than bread filled sandwiches, it is impossible to squash them.
Always loooking for filling ideas, and I am not always the raving carnivore, so any vegetarian thoughts are welcome.
Last edited by parisian wannabe on Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:17 am; edited 2 times in total
SAHM is stay at home mum
BFF I think is best female friend???
I do not work everyday, so have no tried and true formula for lunches. Most of the time I work from home so can make something tasty or have last nights leftovers for lunch.
Myself, I am a leftovers girl. Not into sandwiches at all unless freshly made just before eaten. Do however love wraps with crunchy salad and whatever else comes to hand. For me wraps are practical also as I only have to use one hand to eat and can be writing up notes with other hand or holding a book while I read. Sometimes it is difficult to wash your hands on site so something which can be eaten one handed is easier. You can always use a wipe to get off surface muck and keep a wrap in its wrapping while you eat it...
I have a fabulous thermos that a friend bought for my birthday a few years ago. I can take 3 (large) cups of tea, or a generous serve of soup in it.
I have a collapsable drink bottle that I fill a quarter full of water and freeze the night before. The next day I fill it with water and that way I have cold water (or juice etc) if it is hot and it also keeps lunches cool. I also carry a camel back with 4 litres of water which I drink (and use for cleaning artifacts if need be...).
Otherwise I use tupperware type containers to carry lunches in and a small isotherm bag for items that need to be kept cool.
I need bash proof and light containers and meals that do not require heating and can take a few hours in bad conditions when I am working. Tupperware type containers are good as you can eat a lunch that has survived the morning (ie not squashed to bits) and use it to put any wrapping you might have to take home. Also they make a good place to store interesting things that you find along the way and want to take home and examine....... before taking back next day and putting back where originally found of course. _________________ If you cannot feel your arteries hardening, eat more cheese. If you can, drink more red wine. Diet is just "die" with a "t" on the end. Exercise is walking into the kitchen.
Joined: 18 Oct 2004 Posts: 1654 Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound
Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 4:23 pm Post subject:
Best Friends Forever, my BFF and I wrote it on the notes we passed in grade school. Oddly enough, we haven't spoken in years.
I am home for lunch, but when I did I used my grandfather's old lunch pail that he took down in the fields or out logging. I do send Phil off with mixed nuts, dried fruit, yogurt and veggies. I have a tiffin carrier now, but Phil doesn't use it. _________________ "It's watery....and yet there's a smack of ham."
I love leftover soups, stews, chillis, rice concoctions and will happily slap them into a plastic tub and take to work---but that is not as frequent as I should like actually. And I'm lucky enough to have an excellent organic and natural food store across the street (Herb and Spice) which handles a number of differently sourced soups, sandwiches, salads, pizza, curries etc at not unreasonable prices for the quality. I actually love a good sandwich and a few of the suppliers to H and S utilise a variety of different breads which I wouldn't have on offer at home so it works for me! Oh and when I want something a bit more exotic there is an excellent schwarma joint (Schwarma King) just a block down from me which makes killer salads and felafels. Interstingly I'm pretty much a vegetarian when it comes to breakfast and lunch--don't miss meat at all. _________________ Vivant Linguae Mortuae!!
Joined: 01 Mar 2009 Posts: 1 Location: Atizona, USA
Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:00 pm Post subject: lunches
I am new to the forum as well, but can recommend www.mom-a-licious.com for all of you who, like me, stand and stare into the refrigerator in the morning wondering what to put in 4 lunches for 4 very different people! Lots of good ideas and tips.
We use small stainless steel coolers from Thermos (they love the pink camoflauge design) and in our warm climate a cloth napkin wrapped around a "freezer pack" makes a refreshing hand and face wipe when it is wet from condensation by lunch time!Paper napkins turn to mush.
This week--Goat cheese with fresh herbs and crackers, tortilla and bean and cream cheese "pinwheels" , carrots and white bean hummus, mini peppers stuffed with cream cheese-- cherry tomatoes stuffed with fresh mozz...blood oranges,mini baguettes and of course, leftovers of all kinds!
Today it's leftovers from Sunday lunch: Salmon/chevre lasagna and grilled asparagus and broccoli. One of the few good things about Mondays is that my lunch usually comes from the day before, when I had time to cook something really good. The rest of the week, it's whatever I can throw together while I'm feeding the baby, packing the preschooler's lunch, and trying to get dressed to go to work.
As for packaging, I always use reusable containers and utensils. I use my "good" silverware, too, so that even if I'm eating lunch from a plastic lunch bag with Hello Kitty on it (my daughter's) while sitting in my office at work, I can pretend to achieve some level of civility ; ).
Joined: 29 Oct 2006 Posts: 218 Location: Heaven, actually.
Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:32 pm Post subject:
When I worked full time, I packed a little cooler full of goodies, as this prepared me for the worst of needing to eat for endurance and a long, long day. I only packed a sandwich for breakfast- usually a roast beef on wheat, romaine and horseradish, since I hate breakfast foods for the most part. It kept me going pretty well, actually.
Lunches usually were a social affair, with everyone sticking their noses in my containers, if the smell from the microwave did not float them in from another part of the department. As I cooked once a week, leftovers were prime fodder.
A basic meal would be some sort of ratatouille, maybe some leftover protein tossed in, a little grain action, maybe a Kitchen Sink Salad with meat or tofu. A yogurt of my own concoction was usually present- Plain nonfat yogurt, vanilla bean paste, Splenda & fruit du jour, or a savory version with cucumber, tomato, herbs, salt and some garlic (like a tzaziki).
I liked the control of my intake that packing a lunch afforded. It took me a while to get the whole thing intact after a few too many bike commutes and container disasters. I cheat nowadays with self- stick plastic wrap as a layer under the lid of a container, or I use my food-saver and haul a pair of ceramic scissors along in the lunch box. When I am without a fridge, I use medical grade ice packs, layer towels over the ice and stuff stays cool and safe enough to eat, even after 12 hours in surgery.
Even now, in culinary school, some days I just know I don't wanna forage or graze on the day's production items. I will pack a sandwich of peanut butter, apple slices, some curry spice and the occasional banana slice. Or its a nut bar from Kind (found at Trader Joe's). Morning class, it was instant oatmeal and protein powder, a spoon and some butter sprinkles... grossed out the instructors, but it kept my body happy. I still totally hate breakfast. _________________ There is only one way to die- With a full stomach and a good tan.
Joined: 22 Oct 2006 Posts: 296 Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:23 pm Post subject:
Debbie, I completely agree with you about sandwiches. After years of eating rather grim ones that were never at their best after several hours between making and eating, I've pretty much given up on packing them. The only ones I still do are a wedge of leftover frittata between slices of peasant bread and pan bagnat - those at least can survive intact, or even improve through waiting.
My usual lunch fare is some sort of hearty salad, either based on pasta, quinoa, couscous and/or beans or lentils (C&Z - both website and book - has been an excellent source of such recipes, but I can also recommend the Rose Bakery Cookbook and The Cranks Bible), or leftover curry or roast veg with some bread or naan to mop up the juices. In the summer I like Greek salad, but I always make sure to pack the cheese and olives separately and mix them in just before I eat so that the cucumbers don't weep. I always have fruit as well - either thrown (not literally!) in the bag on its own if it's something sturdy like an apple or citrus, or packed in its own plastic container if it's fragile.
As far as packaging goes, I have a small and much-used collection of plastic containers, and I bring my own cutlery if need be, though most places I've worked have a reasonable supply. I keep a mug in my desk for making tea, but that's really for mid-morning and mid-afternoon... I usually go out to a nearby cafe for that all-important post-lunch espresso shot.
I too am becoming increasingly intrigued by bento, and both the recipes and the containers may be making an appearance in my kitchen in the near future....
It is quite clear that I should hire/beg/trick one of you into preparing my workday lunches!
I usually work through lunch, with one hand on the keyboard and the other gripping a sandwich. I go through phases. Right now I'm reliving childhood pleasures with PBJ and a piece of fruit. Other times I've taken leftovers from the previous night's dinner, or a simple turkey or chicken sandwich.
The key factors that drive my menu choices: convenience of preparation, portability, and ease of consumption.
Maybe I'll spruce up my strategy now I feel so guilty about my lunches, LOL!!
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