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Last year one of the Weekend Cooking participants (I forget who I need to thank) reviewed J. M. Hirsch's Beating the Lunch Box Blues. I immediately bought a copy and handed it over to Mr. BFR, who got some great ideas to perk up his midday meal.
This colorful little book is much more than just recipes; it's brimming over with ideas for the packed lunch that will get you out of the boring ham-and-cheese rut. Some ideas are obvious, like using leftovers from dinner. But some are "smack me on the head for not thinking of it myself" ideas, like buying a rotisserie chicken just for lunch. Yeah, this little idea alone was worth the cost of the book. You can quarter the chicken and eat it as is (cold or microwaved), slice it up for sandwiches, or cube it for use in a variety of chicken salads.
Hirsch starts with an introduction that covers tips and equipment. Then he shares his favorite "cheats," which include not only that chicken but also a number of healthful convenience foods (store-bought hummus, for example). The chapters are divided by the major player (poultry, beef, noodles, fish) as well as by things like speed ("Fast & Easy") and size ("Little Bites"). You'll also find vegetarian and salad-based meals. I particularly like the "One Dinner, Two Lunches" features, which provide a dinner recipe plus two ideas for using leftovers the next day.
Most of the meals in Beating the Lunch Box Blues are geared for adults, which is a blessing for those of us who need something more sophisticated than Go-Gurt and graham crackers. Be warned, though, some packed lunches require fifteen minutes or so of morning prep, so if you're always running late for work, you'll want to skip those ideas.
The two scans show off the great design of the book (see the cover too). The one above is of a typical suggested meal page and the one to the left gives us two ways to use leftover meatloaf (the meatloaf recipe is included in the book). I swear, some of the lunches look so good that I kind of wish I had a commute (not really). I love the beautiful photos, and I'm more than little covetous of all the super containers.
Whether you pack your lunch every day or just a few times a week, J. M. Hirsch's Beating the Lunch Box Blues will give new life to your noontime break. This is a great book to own, but if you're on a budget or you don't need the recipes at hand, you might be happier checking it out from the library. Either way, I recommend it.
Published by Simon & Schuster / Atria, 2013
Source: Bought (see review policy)
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