Lunch making

claire_de_lunaJuly 26, 2008

It seems like the only things I've been purchasing lately (mostly those things required to run my household and personal life) are items like Lock and Lock containers, aluminum water bottles and insulated lunch containers. (Before this it was heavy duty grocery and shopping bags; those I bought and have been using since the 1980's needed an upgrade.) Lately, I've decided to become far as planning the mid-day meal and started packing dh's lunch for him. The benefit of this is that I make one for myself as well, which keeps me from kitchen grazing during the day, and I find I'm eating better meals. I've been working lately on ''presentation'' and figuring out that it doesn't take as much food as I used to think, to make a satisfying meal (or little meals during the day). I'm perfecting the art of the club, the roll-up, the wraps, and learning how to pack a few fruits/veggies to make a more complete meal. Someone in the cooking forum turned me on to Bento, which I'm loving, and I know we're eating better than anything we can go out for. Part of this is my quest to help keep our finances in check, while making a lunch delicious enough that packing one is the only way to go!

I need to cut down on the amount of time I'm spending, but think that will happen as I'm figuring it out as I go along. I put the sandwich stuff together in a basket in the fridge, so all I have to do is pull that out if I'm making sandwiches. I'm trying to make the lunches colorful and beautiful, and include fresh fruit and veggies in every one. I'm finding I actually don't crave cookies or junk food if there's a few slices of fruit, and the veggies are very satisfying when they're already sliced or cut up if there isn't too much. I don't do this every day, but about three times a week; the added benefit is I'm getting Thank You notes from my husband for the lunch I packed!

(Check the link below for learning about Bento. The site is excellent, jam packed with great information.)

So I'm many of you pack lunches? How have you managed to make it easier, quicker or more satisfying?

Here is a link that might be useful: Lunch in a Box

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Sounds like you have a good idea with the basket you pull out with sandwich items. Does it include pre-washed and prepared tomatoes, lettuce?

I'm more of a casserole or crock pot type. I love crock pot meals and take the left overs for lunch.

It's just my hubby and me now, so cooking 1 or 2 casseroles or crock pot meals on Saturday and freezing gives us options during the week to eat healthier.

If you need good information on how long things are good stored in the fridge, check out the link below. I really liked the information on this site. It's relatively new, so I subscribe to the RSS feed for new pages that get added.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 7:12PM
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dancer4804 - read the Terms of Service for Gardenweb. You signed up and have twice posted links to your website.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 8:14AM
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I don't think it's against the rules to post the link to a website (and it's not clear that dancer4804 IS Shelly Morton, though of course she could be). What's against the rules is simply chiming in to say, "buy my products" and not contributing anything to the discussion.

But dancer4804 has been actively and sensibly participating in the question at hand.

Here's how my DH organized *my* lunch. He makes dinner w/ an eye toward leftovers.

Then, he packages the leftovers with a single meal's portion in a single container--so one 1-pt. Gladware container has a single serving of rice and a single chicken-breast half. (the other rice & chicken go into other containers, one serving's worth of both in a single container)

(instead of putting the rice in a big one and the chicken in another big one, and then divvying them up in the morning. He knows they're going into a one-lunch package, so he starts w/ them there)

Then in the morning, he grabs the container and stuffs it into the lunch tote w/ a freezer pack. And he's done.

(he calls those one-meal packages "happy meals")

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 6:18PM
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I love the idea of ''happy meals'' Talley Sue!

I decided to wash and cut all my veggies for the week ahead, with an eye to how I was going to use them, whether it's for salads, stir fry or sandwiches. (Which means I need to plan ahead, and have to ''organize'' meals.) I recently bought a large divided Lock and Lock container to put some of these veggies into, so I can see how it's going to work for me. Since I haven't tried it yet, I don't know, but I'll keep you posted! What I'm hoping is that it will help cut down on prep time across the board, by doing it all at once beforehand. This seems to be the place I have the most trouble, so we'll see how it goes...

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 7:43PM
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We do just as talley sue described. We make dinner and intentionally cook extra and plan for left overs. During dinner cleanup, we package the food for into lunch size portions, keeping leftover vegetables in their own containers. On the morning when lunch is needed, grab the containers, pour a bottle of juice, grab a piece of fruit. It all goes into the insulated bags that we purchased at Target.

Takes less than 3 minutes. We do this for both of us and have been doing this fairly regularly for about 6 years now.
We don't do sandwiches - they take too much time in the morning.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 7:43AM
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I do the leftovers thing too...we come home to eat for lunch everyday, but we only have an hour, so it has to be quick and easy. When I'm cleaning up the kitchen at night, I put the leftovers into bowls or on a plate, one for each of us, covered with plastic wrap (plate) or a salad plate (bowl), and stick it in the fridge. I just reheat the leftovers in the microwave when we get home around noon, and if we're having soup or something like that, I make a quick sandwich while it's heating up. Simple & healthy...

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 11:21AM
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When I worked, I would cook rice on the weekend and freeze it individual sized containers. The morning I would take one and add some frozen vegetables to it. I usually ate this plain, but a sprinkle of soy sauce or other dressing could be added.

DH likes sandwiches, and I cook hamburgers and freeze in individual bags. At night he can remove a bun from its pkg and a burger and be ready to go in the morning.

Now at home, I usually have leftovers or salad.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 1:32PM
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I'm posting because I said ''I'd let you know'' how I'm progressing. Last night I made club sandwiches and fruit skewers for today. Dancer's suggestion of pre-washing lettuce was a good one, so today I washed and prepped the four small bunches of romaine that I had. I also cut (three different ways) carrots, sliced some peppers, and parboiled my broccoli. I chopped celery for egg salad, cut some to stuff for lunches and sliced onions. I've made my egg salad, and now have two dinners planned which include stir frying veggies, one of which has a protein that has been sliced and set to marinade in the fridge. I'm liking planning/prepping ahead so far. The meals are planned for this week, the prep work is done, and I know what I'm packing for lunches. Hopefully, dinner will go more easily too.

It's a bit like once a month cooking, only for the week. The nice thing is being able to ditch the waste all at once, yet have everything sliced and ready to go. Dealing with the veggies has always been one of my biggest problems, so I think I'm going to like this method.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 4:03PM
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Just for the record . . .

Haven't been to this forum in awhile, but did want to clear up a couple of things (concerns from graywings posted above): (1)The owner of the site I mentioned (twice), Shelly Morton, is a personal friend of mine who is a professional organizer; (2)There is NOTHING to purchase on this site --- no advertising, no Google ads . . . nothing. Just lots of great organizing advice I thought others might appreciate (but apparently not everyone).

I participated well within terms and conditions of this site (for those who are of a more lawyerly mindset, and I tend to recognize those being a paralegal by profession)!

Thank you tallysue for your proper response.

Marie D.a/k/a dancer4808

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 8:58PM
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I missed this post the first time around.

I also cook with an eye toward lunches or another dinner. When hub and I were working we were the envy of our lunchmates for our leftovers.

In those days I immediately put the leftovers into our individual containers; when we retired I started putting all the leftovers in one bowl, thinking that we would portion it at meal time. Not such a good idea. Now I'm back to individual portions because it's so much easier to eat what we want - no fuss, no muss.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 9:17AM
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dancer4808, I want to thank you for the link. I found it extremely helpful. There is nothing being sold there.

Thanks for posting the idea that there is more to lunches and bread with a slab of something between them. I'm a casserole person myself. I even make breakfast casserole. Casserole can be a real time saver an often times a healthier choice that what people might scrounge up to eat on the run.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 1:49PM
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I like a good casserole myself. It's nice to have it all in one dish.

I thought you might like to see how I'm prepping my veggies for the week ahead. It's so much easier, I wonder why I haven't been doing it this way for a long time!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 8:47PM
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Haven't been to this forum in awhile, but did want to clear up a couple of things (concerns from graywings posted above): (1)The owner of the site I mentioned (twice), Shelly Morton, is a personal friend of mine who is a professional organizer; (2)There is NOTHING to purchase on this site --- no advertising, no Google ads . . . nothing. Just lots of great organizing advice I thought others might appreciate (but apparently not everyone).

No, what we don't appreciate is being lied to. Back in July, when you joined GardenWeb and linked to your (ahem) friend's site, you wrote this about hiring a professional organizer:
Posted by dancer4808 (My Page) on Tue, Jul 29, 08 at 22:17

I've never used one [professional organizer] because I usually find the info I need online. I found a really good organizing website that gives some good instructions on what to do and how to start. The stuff under "Start Here" was particularly good.

I emailed the owner under her Contact Me page. She responded with some good FREE tips. She said that she just started the site, so information on particular project areas is "ongoing." I recently signed up for her free newsletter.
Here is a link that might be useful: Straighten Up Now Home Organizing Link

Just for the record . . .

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to previous version of your story.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 5:53PM
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Back on topic...

I do the same as some of you above, cook extra to have leftovers, then put the leftovers in individual containers. My twist on this is that I don't put them in the fridge. I label them with the name of the dish & date, then stick them in the freezer. That way I don't have to eat the same thing for lunch the day after I ate it for dinner. In addition, I can sometimes make two or three lunches and I don't want to eat the same thing three days in a row.

In addition, when we eat out, 99% of the time I save half my dinner (it's always too much anyway) and do the same thing with those leftovers.

Then every Sunday I put two containers into the fridge, and on Tuesday, two more, and each day I grab & go in the morning, and heat in the MW at work. I usually eat lunch out on Friday with friends so that's my week.

It's wonderful to have a hot lunch at work. The people who sit near me are always sniffing and wondering what I've got for lunch. Many of them buy their lunch every day, which is not only $$$ expensive, but for me, it would get very old very fast.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 2:11PM
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Lowspark, I love that. I do that when I cook, and am starting to put pre-portioned servings in the fridge to add with other (fresh) items to a lunch box. Great Idea to freeze them as well!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 6:11PM
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