Packed lunch ideas

I’m at school four days a week, and have to pack a lunch for two of them. I’ve got a fifteen minute break between classes, unless I eat during class.

I’ve been doing snacky type things - crackers, peanuts, granola bars, cheese - but I’m getting tired of it.

I don’t have access to a microwave nor a fridge. I’m eating at a school desk, so I don’t have a lot of space either.

Help me out folks, I keep skipping lunch and that’s not good for me.

Sandwiches are good. You can get a good variety if you hit up the deli and get several different types of meat and cheese and then various veggie toppings. That’s what I do for lunch most days.

There are several products out there designed for salad lunches. They’ve got separate dressing containers (so everything stays crispy) and built-in cool packs for those without access to a fridge. Mine also has a built-in fork. I am not packing lunches at the moment, but when I was, my most typical lunch involved whatever salad greens I had in the house, some bulgur, a ‘sharp’ (scallions, chopped red onion or shallot, or perhaps diced radish) and then other stuff I had around. That might be leftover meat/chicken/salmon, beans, chopped salad-type veggies, nuts, dried fruit, leftover simply cooked vegetables, or whatever else looked good. Toss some olive oil, vinegar of choice, honey if you like, salt, and pepper into the dressing container, and you’re good to go!

If I was rushing, I’d take some humus in a little tupperware, grab a yogurt, and buy a whole-wheat roll from the bakery on my way to the car (the bakery’s around the corner, and the car was wherever I’d found parking). Add a good-sized serving of fresh fruit, and you have a pretty well-balanced meal.

I like pb&j on raisin bread for cold lunches.

I take a package of string cheese, a sandwich, and some cookies. I’ve got a refrigerator at work (and a microwave, but I’d rather have a sandwich.) Boring, but it works, and I can read the Dope while eating.

I work full time and go to school full time so I’m definitely there with you. I prepare food on the weekends. This weekend it was [beef] stuffed grape leaves, which are just as delicious cold as they are lukewarm as they are hot. I also make a dish that’s just pasta, ground beef, black beans, and tomatoes; it is good at any temp, too. Between these kinds of simple dishes (though I suppose it is debateable whether stuffed grape leaves constitute a simple dish in preparation terms) and the odd pbj I make it through just fine. Making your own pizza can be quite inexpensive and pizza, to most, is also good at assorted temperatures.

Well a PB and J is the old standby.
I have been taking chicken salad to work to eat. Costco (and other places) sell cooked chicken in cans. Dump a can in a bowl chop up with a fork. Add some chopped celery, pickles, onions (your call on all of this) and some mayo (Miracle whip if you must) mix up.
Take about 1/2 of the mixture and put into a small sealable bowl. Slice a tomato on top and put into your backpack. A spoon/fork and you are good to go.

That sounds not only tiring but not very healthy–and the fat content might make you more sleepy in the afternoon.

If you have the time (and if you absolutely can’t use a microwave) you can stir fry some vegetables (and meat) and mix them with pasta the night before, keep it in the refrigerator until you leave, and it will keep until lunch in Tupperware.

Really, just use your imagination. Peanuts, granola bars and cheese? That isn’t brain food; it’s sleep food.

It takes only the knowledge of a few basic concepts to prepare healthy and delicious food for oneself.

So anybody want to suggest sandwich ideas? Because my old standby of deli turkey, spinach, and mustard is no longer appealing. And I’m afraid to try eating peanut butter any more (not allergic - just lived on it long enough that it makes me gag). The snacky stuff was working because it was a variety of textures and tastes (somewhat). I’m not trying to be difficult, I swear, I’m just kinda picky and have to be careful that I don’t overdo it on any one food.

I really should try making rice balls again. With actual fillings this time.

Tuna with diced onion and celery. Actually I usually just use reconstituted onions.

For rice balls - justbento blog has a good guide.

My favorite sandwich is a vegetarian Chik Patty (they are good even for non-veggies), with pepperjack cheese on a whole wheat English muffin with lots of mustard.

Do you have a Trader Joe’s nearby? They have some good lunch stuff, and a lot of stuff you can spread on bread to spice up sandwiches.

Thinkin back to my college time…

I think a big bag of those frozen {all-purpose) meatballs, a couple different packages of pasta, and decent sock of pantry items as well as a modest spice cupboard could give you at least three, or perhaps more, hearty and nutritious meals a week that you could make the night ahead in individuial portions to be tupperwared and microwaved. They can all be made as one pot meals…

  1. Swedish or stroganoff meatball noodles (dairy, egg noodles, mushrooms, spice)
  2. Spaghetti (pasta sauce, spaghetti noodles, spices, veggies)
  3. Udon soup with meatballs (dashi broth and/or chicken, udon, fresh veggies, soy, veggies)
  4. Hi Opal!

Oops, no microwave, huh?

A can of sardines, a sock of crackers, and a raw onion for you, then. Maybe some limburger for savour.

Lunch of champions.

I ate a lot of raw poptarts.

Shit, I like Chopped bologna salad on wonder bread with frito’s, carrots ,and a fruit cocktail.

That’s not a bad idea, as Japanese-style bento lunches are typically designed to be eaten cool or lukewarm. I’ve been packing those for weeks now and have been very happy. Check out the ideas at Just Bento or Lunch in a Box. If you’re on LiveJournal there’s always the bentolunch community for inspiration.

I have some rice balls/onigiri packed in my freezer, made from short-grain rice and with a little bit of fake ‘meat’ filling inside (Morningstar Farms crumbles).

This cold pack will help. Chicken or tuna salad and crackers, a small chef salad, pudding, fruit cups - there’s lots of good cold stuff for lunches!

I must have OD’ed on sandwiches at some point in my schooling because I can’t even look at one without feeling blah. Plus that much carbs tends to make me crave a post-lunch nap.

Some of my packed lunch standbys include:

  • hummus with mini pitas and baby carrots.
  • pate with crackers or sliced baguette, string cheese, crudites
  • antipasto plate of rolled cold cuts, crusty bread, cherry tomatoes, cheese, and marinated grilled veggies
  • cold potsticker dumplings with soy sauce for dipping
  • green bean and bulgur salad with mustard vinaigrette
  • small can of flavoured tuna (preferably sweet Thai chili) with Ryvita crackers and

I always keep yogurt cups around - even if there’s no fridge at school/work, they’ll still be fine to eat with a lunch or even as a late afternoon snack.

Get yerself a thermos (oops, “vacuum bottle”) and make some soup! A couple years ago, I bought two stainless steel wide-mouth versions (like this one) that are perfect for soup or even chili, spaghetti, or similar scoopables. Heck, fill it with hot taco meat and bring some shells, then assemble your lunch at work! Possibilities are endless! You can even get some smaller ones for veggies and such.

I went with the stainless models for durability and ease of clean up, but of course there are more inexpensive plastic ones out there. Just remember, before you put your food in, boil some water, put it in the thermos, and leave it for 5-10 minutes, then dump it out and add the food. “Pre-warming” the thermos makes a huge difference; my lunch stays piping hot for 5 hours, and would probably stay warm for another five.

I work at a kindergarten. This year I’m working part-time, because I’m also studying part-time, but in an average week I pack three lunches. Leaving the building at lunchtime is not an option. Now, I can use a microwave, which expands the non-sandwich options, but lots of things taste okay cold, or can be packed in a soup themos. Tomorrow, for instance, we’ll be going for a walk and eating lunch at a nearby playground. I’ll be packing a thermos full of tomato soup, with cheese and crackers, grapes, nuts, and a cookie in my nifty lunchbox. If I’m ambitious enough I’ll make some cocoa.

Another time I heated up some leftover macaroni and cheese and filled my thermos with that. Any hot food that tastes good all mixed together is a candidate for packing in a soup thermos. Get a decent, stainless steel one, and remember to pre-heat it before packing!

Cold pizza, remember, isn’t just for breakfast any more. Lots of chicken dishes taste good cold, too.