Thursday, August 26, 2010

Food 110: Back To School Bento

There's nothing I hate more than a soggy sandwich. PB & J, Turkey, Veggie, it's all the same gross nasty-ness after a few hours.

For years I have been searching for the perfect home made lunch combo that will not only taste good, but not look like the largest man on earth has sat on it. It's hard. But fear not, I'm here to share some of my boxed secrets to a yummy lunch.

First, dump that crummy, non tree friendly paper bag in the recycling bin and head over to your nearby store and pick up something reusable. Cookies, sandwiches, juice boxes, etc. are are somewhat crushed or banged up by lunch time, and if you packed something cold in there, chances are you're bag is soggy too. Buy tin, plastic, or wood boxes, they all do the same job. Personally, I like using something small, yet big enough for me to have 3 or4 compartments for different foods. Small, well sealed plastic containers are great to have also for sauces or dips. While paper bags are really convenient, and of course a classic, they aren't really that practical, so end whatever kind of relationship you have with paper baggies and splurge on something a little more durable and heck, even cute.

Once you have your reusable container consider next what you'll be packing. Traditionally meals consist of 1 main hearty protein, and 2 supplementary sides. When packing for lunch consider what the highlight of your lunch will be. Pasta, rice, tofu, meat are some of the few things you can consider. With sides you can get colorful and creative.Ok, so maybe you don't have time to be that creative in the morning or the night before, but choose colorful foods like dried cranberries, sliced carrots, strawberries, even little clementines to give your eyes a little candy while you eat. And if you want to try something a little less greasy than potato chips check out Melba Toast. However if you do decided to try Melba Toast I recommend packing some sort of spread to go along with it because they are VERY dry.

Another thing you can do is make a mini parfait. Get some yogurt, fruit, and granola if you like that extra crunch, layer them in a small container, then put in the freezer overnight. By the time you get to lunch they'll have thawed, but still be cold, yummy, and ready to eat.

To substitute for a sandwich, pinwheels are a great thing to consider. And honestly, anything you can put on bread you can put on a tortilla. Roll up anything from a yummy cream cheese and meat combo to a diced banana and nutella, or even make a fluffer nutter, the combinations are endless!

So please, with all of these ideas hopefully you'll be convinced to leave paper baggies for something a little more food friendly.