Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Office Bento - Lunch Happy

Pretty high up on the list of my favorite things is a beautifully prepared lunch box. I know that after a rough and frantic morning nothing helps perk up my attitude and also my energy more than a pretty and delicious lunch. It's like saying, "I love you," to your future-self.

Now, that doesn't mean I have the time for fancy hand-painted scenes of rice cats playing in fields of grass-shaped seaweed spotted with flower-shaped carrots. I like to get my lunches packed on Sunday in one hour. But I think using one hour to prep 3-4 good meals that will give me energy and make me feel good and keep me on my weight management track is totally worth the time.

I use the Sistema Klip-it boxes, cupcake holders (both plastic and paper), and the little plastic sushi grass dividers you can get from the dollar store. For sauces and salad dressings I use the Sistema 35ml sauce containers. You can get the Sistema products online, at The Container Store, or Goodwill (it you are lucky).
Turkey sandwich, pasta salad, hard boiled egg, cherries, blueberries and sliced strawberries
I usually fit enough food for the whole day in one of these boxes. In the above example it would be hard boiled egg and fruit mix for breakfast, pasta salad for elevenzies, and the sandwich and cherries for lunch.

Turkey sandwich, lemon wafers, pea crisps, cherries, blueberries and sliced strawberries
Next day is similar with the sandwich and fruit, but I added some lemon wafers and pea snap crisps. Sistema sets are good for dry foods - not so good for wet foods - so make sure to drain the fruit! Also, either leave your sandwiches dry or watch Alton Brown's, "How to make a sandwich," show and follow his guidance.

Salad with leftover chicken, cherries, chocolate bunnies, celery and carrot sticks, hummus
Next day, skip the sandwich :-) Just like with the sandwich - leave the salad dry. That little bottle to the right? That's dressing and I put it right in with the salad for storage and then take it out for lunch. Those bottles are awesome 'cause the lid comes off and it it easy to clean out with your finger and soap. I've been through a lot of little squeeze bottles and these are so far my favorites. They aren't perfect - the tiny lid has a little plastic attachment and it can snap off pretty easily. But, all things considered, they are easy to clean, hold a fair amount, and colorfully happy looking.

Vegetarian spring roll, mochi with azuki beans, grapes, rice cake
Great use for plastic cupcake holder = dipping sauce!

Trader Joes chili chicken lime burger sandwich, carrot sticks, Popwise popcorn, pea crisps, grapes, cherries
Okay - my sandwich got a little squashed on this one, but it was still perfectly tasty! This one I used up the last of the pea crisps, the last of the cherries, and basically finished up the week of awesome lunches.

I go through waves - sometimes sandwiches, sometimes salads, sometimes leftovers - depending on what groceries I've picked up. I always try to make sure to have fruits and veggies in every lunch and again, this is a whole day's food - don't try to eat an entire Sistema box all at one sitting - they hold a lot of food!

I have some other types of lunch boxes - ones I picked up in Japan, ones I've found at cute shops, and ones I've stumbled upon in the back of the most remote and odd thrift store. My go-to kit though is a Sistema box, cupcake holders and sushi grass for flexible dividers, cute reusable toothpicks from the Japanese dollar store, and sauce holders.

I'd like to get a fabric placemat or napkin I could put on my desk like a little table cloth, but that's the only thing I think that's missing. Unless you have any other ideas?



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