Friday, March 26, 2010

Soggy-Free and Safe Lunches

I’m a conscientious lunch packer and I want my food to taste awesome. After all, if I’m going to put this much effort into foods it should be worth it. But what kinds of foods work well for Good 2 Go? Aren’t there rules about how to make things that travel safely and reheat well? What about containers? I discovered about an hour after I decided to do Good 2 Go that I was really asking for trouble.

Foods are inherently a little bit dangerous because they can harbor bacteria and nasty little germs to make us very very ill. I’m not a fan of poisoning my family (even though occasionally I’ve brushed past that thought in regards to my husband) so I did some research. I want the lunches to be safe and I thought about what kinds of foods travel well. It helps if you think about picnic foods. These need only a little refrigeration and minimum packaging. Some of the broad categories I picked up on at first:

  • · Raw and cooked vegetables
  • · Cheese, especially harder cheeses like cheddar and gouda
  • · Breads like tortillas or heavy grain breads so they don’t get crushed
  • · Salads
  • · Cous cous or lentils
  • · High acid foods like tomato sauces
  • · Well-cooked and well-refrigerated meats

Ultimately I know that my husband has a refrigerator at his workplace, but there will be that inevitable day when work gets overwhelming and lunch gets left on his desk. I’d still like for him to eat well on those days.

My theory on planning lunch was simple (I thought): Don’t make anything I already make for dinner. This would make sure that lunch was a new and interesting dish. The added bonus here is that I’d have new skills in the kitchen and be learning something too. Of course, the second week I got busy and suddenly it was Sunday again. I really needed something fast so I grabbed my remaining eggs and emptied out the leftovers. Some cheese, ham, sautéed spinach and a couple of premade pie crusts = quiche in my world. I dashed together the eggs with herbs and such and set it aside. I cut the pie crusts (or in my case croissant dough I had leftover) into rounds and shoved them into muffin tins. A little chopped cheese, ham or spinach and I spooned the filling in. This will be a great way to stretch ingredients and gets my guy eating vegetarian at least one meal.

I knew the protein was locked down with the mini-quiche, but what about vegetables with those all important vitamins? What about fiber? I wasn’t going to add a starch because I’d already used the crust. I grilled some asparagus with olive oil and garlic which I thought would work well. Later I ended up using steamed broccoli, but really any green vegetable would work. For the other side dish I decided to try something new: Samosa-like lentil snacks. I found these delicious treats on and whoa.... are they tasty! This unique little snack packs a very big flavor punch. I tucked 3 of these balls with a light dipping sauce made of low fat yogurt, spring onions and dill.

Putting Good 2 Go in a container should have been simple, but the practical side of me wouldn’t rest until I found a solution for sending the sauce with the lentil balls without it getting heated in the microwave. Fortunately, it was about this time that I was wandering lost in thought on aisle 8 of the grocery store. I happened upon a little bento-like box stashed to the side of the regular plastics. Since I got lost looking at all the bento on, I thought surely this was the universe helping me out. So I snatched up a set of two and the large compartment just held two mini quiches. The smaller sections held the asparagus and lentil balls and I put a tiny kid’s snack container on the side with the dipping sauce!

I even had a little extra so I shared with a vegetarian friend, who might want me to make lunches for her as well!

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