19 September 2015

Weekend Cooking: A Week of Packed Lunches

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

And now for something completely different! Today's Weekend Cooking post is doing double-duty as part of the Pin It and Do It challenge sponsored by Trish at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity. The challenge is basically to get you to use some of the things you've pinned to your Pinterest boards; you can do anything from crafts and cooking to fashion, organization, or workouts.

My challenge to myself was also inspired by Trish, who tweeted about a woman who makes four school lunches every single day for her two sets of twins, now aged nine and six. Let that sink in a minute. Yes, the woman deserves sainthood. And if you click the link (lunches for a year), you'll see that her lunches are not just PB&J day after day. She gives her kids variety and nutritious foods and is even creative in her packaging!

So I figured if she could pack four lunches a day for an entire school year, I could pack one lunch a day for a single week for Mr. BFR. I met my challenge, and found that once I was in the groove, it wasn't so hard. Except, well, he's back to scrounging for himself. Ooops.

First I'll show you the lunches I made, and then I'll say something about lessons learned and packing containers. Click the images to see them full size and to read the descriptions of what's in each box.

My assessment: Day 1 was totally uninspired, but, hey, you gotta start somewhere. On Day 3, I was sure the chicken and crackers wouldn't be enough food so I added a bunch of Cheddar slices. I was surprised when Mr. BFR said it was too much food; he ate the leftovers as a late-afternoon snack!

My assessment: Both lunches for the last two days were a hit. Again, hardly clever, but better than what he usually packs for himself. I had to laugh, because he commented on not having a treat on Day 4! I guess the little things really do count.

Things I learned
  • It's really hard not to rely on cheese and as a filler every day.
  • It's really hard not to add in some nuts and dried fruit every day.
  • If you don't buy/eat lunch meat it's really hard to come up with something different every day.
  • I still want to try some mason jar salads, because I know Mr. BFR is happy to eat salads instead of sandwiches.
Notes on containers
  • We use the Rover box from Planet Box, which comes with the two small containers you can see on Day 5. We made a decision a couple of years ago to avoid plastic as much as possible, which is why we bought this box. Planet Box now makes a few more sizes, and we may have bought the Launch if it had been available then.
  • When Mr. BFR packs something that needs to be microwaved, we use glass containers with plastic lids. When he's working where there's no microwave, we sometimes use thermoses.
  • Pottery Barn Kids also makes some nice metal boxes, most of which come with plastic lids.
  • I love the containers shown on What Lisa Cooks, but alas they're plastic. Regardless, I may cave and get some silicon cups to use as dividers in our glass containers.
One question for you: If you have any good packed lunch ideas or pins, let me know. I feel so inadequate when it comes to lunch, especially when Mr. BFR doesn't have access to a microwave (meaning no leftovers from dinner).


Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 9/19/15, 7:39 AM  

Wow! I think you did a great job! My children are still in preschool, so only one lunch per week for lunch bunch, but I dread having to pack lunch every single day!! And to try to do it creatively!

Right now, I usually pack the same thing since it's only once a week and it's different from what he eats at home. A turkey & cheese sandwich, some fruit, and some carrot sticks. Their school is nut free, so no trail mix or PB&J!

jama 9/19/15, 8:00 AM  

I'm so impressed! You can pack my lunch anytime. :)

I agree that it's hard not to rely on lunch meat and cheeses. What would Mr. BFR think of tofu salads? I wonder what moms do with kids who have lots of food allergies -- no wheat, no dairy, no nuts?

Katherine P 9/19/15, 8:13 AM  

I can't imagine 4 lunches every day! I make lunch everyday for my littlest but he likes the same thing every day. I tried to get creative once and he just wanted his cheese sandwich back. My husband does take leftovers most days but he has consistent access to a microwave so that makes things much easier. Great job and I love your containers!

Tina 9/19/15, 8:39 AM  

Well I agree with you, the woman with two sets of twins deserves a sainthood medal or something - wow! I pack lunch just about every single day. We rarely eat out (except lunch on weekends) but I am fortunate enough to have access to a microwave at work.

You always eat a healthier if you make your chow! Nuts, cheese and fruit are always a great filler in the lunchboxes. I like string cheese sticks and occasionally a pudding. Thanks for the tips on containers.

Vicki 9/19/15, 8:58 AM  

I had to make 3 lunches everyday but I wasn't as creative as you. Those lunches are impressive!! I usually gave them a sandwich, chips, fruit, and snack. Everyone wasn't as health conscious as they are now.

I'm not a fan of plastic either. I love those Rover boxes, but think they're a bit pricey.

JoAnn 9/19/15, 9:17 AM  

As much as I love to cook, packing lunches was always a chore. You've managed to come up with meals that are both visually appealing and healthful. Well done!!

Kay 9/19/15, 10:14 AM  

These look like great lunches for me at home. Want to pack my lunch? Actually, they look a lot like what I eat at home when I'm by myself. A little of this. A little of that. Love the idea of making your own trail mix. I'm going to try that. My husband doesnt' really like leftovers, but he bought a little fridge for his office. He eats lunch at work usually 2 or sometimes as many as 4 times a week. I buy him nut butters, rice cakes, carrots, spreadable fruit, cheese sticks, yogurt, and drinks. He puts things in his little fridge and has them ready anytime he wishes.

bermudaonion 9/19/15, 10:19 AM  

I love this post and would gladly eat any of those lunches! I bet Mr. BFR wants you to pin something like that again. :)

Megan 9/19/15, 10:57 AM  

Wish my packed lunches looked a little more like your packed lunches. Maybe then I'd still want to eat them when I got to work instead of casting them aside for "more fun" food from the cafeteria.

Mary R. 9/19/15, 12:11 PM  

A while back I read a book called Beating the Lunchbox Blues which had a lot of good tips and recipes in it. I don't seem to have blogged about it though. I also still eat a peanut-butter sandwich, a yogurt, and fruit for lunch everyday so it didn't get me out of my lunch groove/rut.

Claudia 9/19/15, 12:24 PM  

Those Planet Boxes look very much like the prepared Japanese bentos, which we see everywhere here, and I'll bet if I looked they have some nice ones for personal packing. I rarely pack a lunch since growing up and packing for my brothers and sisters (as the eldest) - 5 or 6 in a row, whipping up bologna, cheese or P&J. Ha, it's put me off since.

Nan 9/19/15, 1:23 PM  

I just love this!! What a great blog that woman has, and what a good thing she is doing! And you did terrific! I love the separate compartments that lunch boxes have now. I'm not on Pinterest, but am giving myself a personal challenge of making more meals out of my recipe boxes.

Esme 9/19/15, 1:35 PM  

These look delicious. I am fortunate as most days I can be home at lunch-however new ideas are always welcome when I cannot think of something.

Laurie C 9/19/15, 3:48 PM  

Those are beautiful! I really want some dark chocolate now. My husband often packs lunches for me and they're very nice, but I'll have to tell him to keep on steering clear of Pinterest so he doesn't develop feelings of inadequacy! I love salads for lunch, but never bother to make them for myself.

Belle Wong 9/19/15, 4:47 PM  

Those lunches look delicious! I'm going to be renting coworking space starting next month, so I'll need to start packing myself some lunches, too. I love the variety in the ones you packed.

(Diane) bookchickdi 9/20/15, 11:24 PM  

What a fantastic post! I loved the shredded chicken, cheese and crackers idea. I bring my lunch to work (usually yogurt, Baby Bell Cheese and a granola bar), but now you have inspired me to upgrade.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity 9/21/15, 1:57 PM  

I love this!! And am so impressed by your meals--I think they're creative even if you don't think they're as inspired. My poor girls basically get the same thing every day...but on the other hand I know they'll eat it. I'd love to make quesadillas or something a little more creative, but I also don't like making the effort and it ending up in the trash. Hard to control when they're not under your roof!

Love the container you use--I wonder if their smaller version might work for us. And I laughed about the comment on no treat. The small things REALLY do matter. LOL!

Michelle (my books. my life.) 9/21/15, 3:46 PM  

Well I'm impressed. I use a bento box for E's lunches and I always feel uninspired.

Chrisbookarama 9/22/15, 12:10 PM  

Great job! I used Pinterest to plan my daughter's meals for a short time, but she's such a picky eater, I got frustrated and gave up. She makes her own meals now, and guess what? Uses Pinterest for inspiration. Ha!

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