31 January 2015

Weekend Cooking: Beating the Lunch Box Blues by J. M. Hirsch

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I don't know why my mind goes blank when it comes to packed lunches. I pretty much have trouble thinking beyond PB&J and leftover dinner. I'm lucky I work from home, so it's not my issue, but my husband faces this problem daily.

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
ISBN-13: 9781476726724
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Marg 1/31/15, 6:11 AM  

I am being a lot better about packing my lunches over the last few months but I must confess that it is mostly either salad and some kind of protein or leftovers. Some new ideas would be good!

rhapsodyinbooks 1/31/15, 6:18 AM  

I think my favorite scene in The Breakfast Club is when everyone gets out their lunches and Molly Ringwald pulls out her Bento Box with sushi!

Tina 1/31/15, 6:58 AM  

If you remember who to thank for this book idea, give them a thanks for me too. I am the lunch packer in this house Nd I don't mind, but sometimes I need a fresh idea.

My husband and I work in the same place so I bring lunch for us both 5 days a week. Usually leftovers, as you mentioned, but this book is certainly for me!

Lory 1/31/15, 7:00 AM  

I need some ideas for packing lunches for my son. He's a pretty adventurous eater so I might be able to use this book for that. Thanks for pointing it out!

Sarah's Book Shelves 1/31/15, 7:57 AM  

What a creative cookbook idea! When I worked, I packed a lunch every day (to save money and eat healthy)...it was a turkey and provolone sandwich...literally every day. Boring! Could have used this! Now I eat at home...and I eat the same thing everyday (why do I still do this?!): turkey and provolone sandwich with half an avocado.

jama 1/31/15, 8:42 AM  

What an appealing cover -- need to check this one out though like you I work at home so don't need to pack a lunch. Ideas are always welcome, though. :)

grammajudyb 1/31/15, 8:58 AM  

The photos are really colorful. Though we are both retired and eat at home, I think I will look at the library for this one, if only for inspiration. Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches are getting tiresome. Thanks for sharing.

bermudaonion 1/31/15, 8:58 AM  

I wish I'd seen that before Carl retired!

Belle Wong 1/31/15, 10:10 AM  

This looks like a great little book. We don't have to pack lunches anymore but i always have a terrible time at lunchtime because I never know what to make. It sounds like this one might give me some ideas!

Katherine P 1/31/15, 10:56 AM  

This looks interesting! I don't have to pack a lunch but coming up with something interesting to eat for lunch day in and day out does get challenging. Thanks for sharing!

Sheila (Bookjourney) 1/31/15, 11:16 AM  

I need this. I like to take lunch with me when I have out of town meetings.

I had two links today - one is a book and one is food from our trip :)

Les 1/31/15, 6:00 PM  

99% of the time, my husband and I both brown-bag our lunches. This looks a gem to own since I'm really tired of trying to come up with creative ideas for our weekday lunches. We eat a lot of leftovers, but sometimes we simply don't have anything to pack other than PBJ or tuna sandwiches. I try to buy a rotisserie chicken every weekend and use that meat for sandwiches, but even that gets a little boring. Thanks for reviewing this book!

Emma Litttlefield 2/1/15, 2:56 AM  

I'm the same as you in that I work from home but have to say these would be good for mixing things up and stop me eating leftovers or cheese sandwiches! Emma @ Onceuponalittlefield

Couscous & Consciousness 2/1/15, 3:30 AM  

I totally need this book. I'm always looking for lunchbox ideas - on days when I don't have any leftovers, I'm usually at a complete loss!!

Tanya @ Moms Small Victories 2/1/15, 8:23 AM  

I had this book in Netgalley and need some new ideas. Thanks for sharing and hosting. We are starting Foodie February today (a month dedicated to foodie reads for our Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge). Anyone can sign up. Hope you join us!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity 2/1/15, 10:22 AM  

Now that I'm back at work, I'm facing this same dilemma. I've been trying to get creative (making soup and freezing in single portions), but my fall back is always the frozen single portion meals that are low in calories but probably not low in sodium. Great idea about the chicken! I used to roast some chicken and shred it and freeze it for salads and tacos but haven't done that yet. My library has a copy of this so I'm going to see if I can garner any inspiration--especially for hub who can't do veggies, fruits, and salads due to allergies.

Booksnyc 2/1/15, 11:57 AM  

I need to work on bringing lunch more - besides saving some money, there are days where I have meetings straight through and can't break to go get something which results in bad choices at about 3 or 4 when I am ravenous! This book should be able to give me some ideas - thanks for the review!

Leah @ Books Speak Volumes 2/1/15, 12:39 PM  

This sounds fantastic! I get *so bored* of turkey and cheese sandwiches, but I'm not creative enough to come up with anything else (besides leftovers).

Linda 2/2/15, 1:39 PM  

I've read Hirsch's other cookbook, High Flavor, Low Labor, which I enjoyed. I found it accessible. I should look for this one.

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