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www.goodeatsfanpage.com • View topic - Lunch Challenge

Lunch Challenge

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Lunch Challenge

Postby haleoalau » Wed Jun 09, 2004 11:25 pm

...or maybe that should be "Lunch Challenged". :?

I need some ideas for what to do for lunch at the office. I don't care for sandwiches and--- *fighting against the sudden vacuum of air being sucked from the room from all the gasping*

*waiting for the titters to die down*

*still waiting*

and there are some obstacles.

1) My office has no kitchenette. Everyone (but me) eats out. They have no microwave, no hot pot. We don't even have a sink. Just the water jug with hot and cold flipper switches.

2) I don't want to purchase an appliance for the office, the power/voltage(uuuuuh...220 vs 110...sorry, can't think of it right now) is different from where we're moving next. Nor do I feel comfortable asking them to purchase something just for me.

3) I choose not to eat out because of the expense and the waistline factor.

4) I only take a 1/2 hour lunch. My commute is fairly long and this enables me to leave a 1/2 hour earlier to catch an earlier train. So, this is another reason that eating out usually isn't possible.

I've eaten more peanut butter crackers, raw veggies with dip, ramen noodles and lukewarm canned soups than I care to count (the only that I can heat up with the hot water). I'm running out of ideas.

So, I'm turning to ya'll with your wonderful capacity for ideas and ingenuity?

Help a gal out, will ya? :)

Thanks,
Maria
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Postby mikebober » Wed Jun 09, 2004 11:31 pm

Most of you will say ughh gross, but I played with dehydrated meals when I was into camping and hiking. Make you own, all you need is hot water to prepare. One great benefit is that you can make several differnent meals and store them for the future. One thing I learned is that any seasoning you add has to be multiplied. When you reconstitute it the flavor is never as strong.
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Postby Moose » Wed Jun 09, 2004 11:37 pm

Get yourself an insulated lunch bag and reusable ice packs. Then you can take whatever you feel like. Given your heretical stance on sammiches, I'd suggest chef salads, leftover roasted chicken, pasta salads, etc.

Yeah, I know, not much help, but I wanted to see what happens to my ranking after 600 posts.

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Postby haleoalau » Thu Jun 10, 2004 1:39 am

mikebober wrote:Most of you will say ughh gross, but I played with dehydrated meals when I was into camping and hiking. Make you own, all you need is hot water to prepare. One great benefit is that you can make several differnent meals and store them for the future. One thing I learned is that any seasoning you add has to be multiplied. When you reconstitute it the flavor is never as strong.


The Hub said he's get me some MRE's...just not sure how the magnesium burning smell will go over at the office.

Something to keep in mind if I can find some pre-made for nwo; drying my own would be an issue right now. Our apartment doesn't have an oven, and we're not buying any more appliances since we move again in a little less than 4 months.

Thanks!!
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Postby wgrape » Thu Jun 10, 2004 1:46 am

I can understand your aversion to sandwiches. I don't hate them but after awhile you can only muster so much excitement over a sandwich (a cold one at that).

Given your constraints, you have to get a bit creative.

I've made empanadas that were quite tasty at room temp.
Sushi rolls were quite tasty too.
I'd also go with Moose's suggestions of pasta salad and roast chicken.

If at your new office you do decide to get an appliance, I suggest a tiny rice cooker. Yes, a rice cooker. You can make tons of stuff in it and a tiny one is stashable and more affordable (especially if you're footing the bill). I've made rice, noodles, soups, etc. You name it, I've made it in my rice cooker. And once your co-workers smell the heavenly aromas steeping in there, I'm sure you'll get plenty of fellow brown baggers in your workplace. Then collectively you can suggest a microwave or toaster over.

Hope this helps.
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Postby mikebober » Thu Jun 10, 2004 1:47 am

haleoalau wrote:The Hub said he's get me some MRE's...just not sure how the magnesium burning smell will go over at the office.


I've done the MRE thing, they don't compare to making a meal yourself. But it's an idea. If you were to eat them be careful they are loaded with an abundance calories.

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Postby stixx23 » Thu Jun 10, 2004 5:19 am

what about sandwiches do you not like? For example, would switching from bread to tortillas (wraps) make any difference?

Cereal! It's not just for breakfast anymore!

Smoothies. make at home, bring in a thermos. Crush ice, add frozen fruit and juice/milk/soy milk, blend, add two scoops of protein powder, blend again.

Instant oatmeal. Maple brown sugar, of course.

Make-your-own granola.

Biscuits. I suppose you could bring something to go on them, but why bother?

Gin and tonic. Ok, it's not filling, but it will make the end of the day more fun!
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Postby haleoalau » Thu Jun 10, 2004 6:50 am

stixx23 wrote:what about sandwiches do you not like? For example, would switching from bread to tortillas (wraps) make any difference?


Can't explain. I've just never developed a taste for it. Might be the coldness. I prefer meat hot, cheese melty, and packaged bread toasted....

Yea....weird. I know.

Cereal! It's not just for breakfast anymore!

Smoothies. make at home, bring in a thermos. Crush ice, add frozen fruit and juice/milk/soy milk, blend, add two scoops of protein powder, blend again.

Instant oatmeal. Maple brown sugar, of course.

Make-your-own granola.

Biscuits. I suppose you could bring something to go on them, but why bother?


Biscuits...again..no oven at home. The bane of our existence here! If I could find them pre-made though....

Gin and tonic. Ok, it's not filling, but it will make the end of the day more fun!


And cure malaria at the same time! Two, two, two things in one. Whatta bahgahn.

These are great ideas.....I could crockpot a chicken...pasta salad....

I'm so hungry.....
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Postby Rallymama » Thu Jun 10, 2004 7:54 am

Off the top of my head, I say TABBOULEH! This is one of our favorite summer salads, and all the box mixes need is some extra veggies and more EVOO, lemon juice, and fresh black pepper than they call for. We'll add cucumber, green onion, and bell pepper in addition to the tomato.

Have you even made salad out of the ramen noodles? My favorite includes shredded Napa cabbage, green onions, mandarin orange segments, sliced almonds, and chicken. The dressing is the juice from the oranges, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger, white pepper, and a touch of chili oil. Being cabbage-based, it travels well.

Hummus and pita with those raw veggies? Cottage cheese and fruit salad? A fruit, yogurt, and granola parfait? Black bean dip and tortillas?

I hope some if this is tempting, because now I'm hungry too! :)
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Postby Parintachin » Thu Jun 10, 2004 8:52 am

Tortillas are your friend. Even cold.

I'm also fully behind the cold pack/salad idea.

That opens up a world of lettuce, greens, pasta and exotic salad ideas.
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Postby Holly » Thu Jun 10, 2004 10:51 am

Stixx already posted most of the ideas I had, so never
mind on those.

However, I understand you not wanting to buy an appliance
for the office, but seriously,
toaster ovens are so good for heating things up,
and I even saw one at
Kohls a couple of months ago,
on clearance for TWELVE dollars!

But, that issue aside, pasta salads are good for a
no-reheat situation. And
there are an infinite number of varieties
you can make.
Or if boredom sets in, switch the pasta to rice.
Fruit salads are good too.
Roast some veggies on the grill, pile them
all together in a bowl with a little vinegrette,
and have a roasted veggie salad.
Any of the above would be great with a nice hunk of
crusty bread.
Or without it.

Another thing, just think of things you don't mind
eating cold, or actually prefer eating
cold, leftover....
-Fried Chicken tops the list.
along with a small side of baked beans (which are great cold too),
cole slaw or macaroni salad.
-Pizza.
-Mac and Cheese with some cubed meat in it is
ABFAB leftover, cold.

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Postby new cook » Thu Jun 10, 2004 11:11 am

I've got two words:

Insulated Thermos

With your insulated thermos you can bring hot soups or stews, hot pasta or hot ramen, hot chili beans, just about hot anything -- even portions of casseroles. Like mac 'n cheese or lasagna. :D

And conversely, in an insulated thermos you can also keep foods that should be served cold.

I also liked the idea that someone had of the insulated lunch pouch with ice packs. Then you could bring your own sushi (I'd go with vegetarian here, though, the temps may not be cool enough on a hot day to properly keep fish) and fruit salads, stuff that just taste better when they're cold.

And fried chicken. <high fives Holly!> Fried chicken is wunnerful at any temperature.

Here's a tip for packing green salads: If you don't have a separate container for carrying the dressing, add the dressing to the container first, then some crunchy veggie toppings or beans or whatever you're adding, then the lettuce greens. This keeps the salad from getting soggy because the dressing is safely at the bottom marinating your toppings. When you're ready to eat, remove the lid, place an upside plate on the container, flip it over and voila! I used to do this all the time when I packed salads for lunch. Works like a charm. :D
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Postby Jeanne » Thu Jun 10, 2004 12:50 pm

Bagels with just about anything (cream cheese and ham are good). You can bring a frozen one and it is perfectly thawed and soft by lunch time /and/ has kept your cream cheese, ham, or whatever else you want to put on them cold.

Pasta salad in any number of ways. Best with an ice pack in your lunch bag.

Yogurts in the little tubs. These you can also freeze, but they won't necessarily thaw well. Bring a baggie of granola to go with.

Pita and hummus or veggies and hummus.

Cold tempura with a flavorful sauce.

Cold spring-rolls with a sharp ginger sauce.

Anything with a sufficiently spicy sauce will disguise the 'cold' feeling with a sharp 'hot' flavor.

If I were going to get one appliance for the office, I'd go toaster-oven. You can make toast, reheat leftovers, bake brownies, re-heat soup...just about anything in a toaster oven. It's smaller than a microwave, cheap, does the gooey grilled cheese sandwiches...and all you need to heat just about anything in there is a metal tray and a metal cup or bowl.

My 2 cents.

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Postby Kathleen » Thu Jun 10, 2004 12:59 pm

About Korea: I am thinking of applying for the international Federal employee program and get sent there for a couple years. I turned down the opportunity to go to Iraq. White American female with the Feds is not a good thing to be over there.

What can you tell me about the place? I would be stationed on a military base somewhere.
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Postby Nidia » Thu Jun 10, 2004 8:26 pm

I don't know what kinds of ingredients you can get over in Korea, but my fave summertime lunch is a scoop of cottage cheese mixed with fruit salad, sometimes with a few almonds on top.
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Postby chefshawn » Thu Jun 10, 2004 8:32 pm

wow...tough, tough call...

personally, i'd HAVE to break down, and buy an appliance. cold lunch everyday 5x a week would NOT work well with me...at all.

i'm a soup/sandwich guy...all the other cold options seem to be mentioned already...

sorry.
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Postby carla » Thu Jun 10, 2004 9:37 pm

new cook wrote:When you're ready to eat, remove the lid, place an upside plate on the container, flip it over and voila! I used to do this all the time when I packed salads for lunch. Works like a charm. :D

new cook, you eat on a plate at work?!?! :lol:

About the samiches, I always put my meat & cheese samich in the microwave or toaster oven. And yes, wraps & pita give you many more options, if you haven't explored that way. And hot soup with a cold samich or cheese & crackers. new cook is smart. A thermos would seem to be your smallest & best investment.

I bring lunch every day. It's usually leftovers, samiches are second. I also lunch on salads & cottage cheese & veggies & cheese & nuts & hardboiled eggs. And anything else I can throw into my lunch bag. Noodle salads or noodle "entrees" are good too. Cold soba salads. Hot noodles with veg & meat.
Let us know what you eat for lunch next week!
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Postby new cook » Thu Jun 10, 2004 9:44 pm

chefshawn wrote:wow...tough, tough call...

personally, i'd HAVE to break down, and buy an appliance. cold lunch everyday 5x a week would NOT work well with me...at all.

i'm a soup/sandwich guy...all the other cold options seem to be mentioned already...

sorry.
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Postby penguins13 » Fri Jun 11, 2004 4:23 pm

new cook wrote:I've got two words:

Insulated Thermos

With your insulated thermos you can bring hot soups or stews, hot pasta or hot ramen, hot chili beans, just about hot anything -- even portions of casseroles. Like mac 'n cheese or lasagna. :D



Thermos' are great. For my son's lunch I will heat baked beans stick 'em in the thermos and put a hot dog in the center. When he has lunch out comes the hot, hot dog and beans as a side. I will sometimes give him some hot soup with a dog in it. I give him a packet of ketchup from Wendy's and he is set
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Postby chefshawn » Fri Jun 11, 2004 4:31 pm

penguin, that hot dog in the middle thing may be the greatest idea i have ever heard in all my life...seriously...

i'm gonna have to go out now, and buy myself a friggin thermos...

do they still make em with speed racer on em? i really hve nothing for spongebob or pokemon...

cept, i think i'd dunk it in CHILI!

hehe...how cool would that be? everyone in the office pourin coffee, and you open up a bun, and pour out a chili dawg!!!

HAHAH!
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Postby penguins13 » Sun Jun 13, 2004 10:54 am

chefshawn wrote:penguin, that hot dog in the middle thing may be the greatest idea i have ever heard in all my life...seriously...

i'm gonna have to go out now, and buy myself a friggin thermos...

do they still make em with speed racer on em? i really hve nothing for spongebob or pokemon...

cept, i think i'd dunk it in CHILI!

hehe...how cool would that be? everyone in the office pourin coffee, and you open up a bun, and pour out a chili dawg!!!

HAHAH!


thanks Chef, it is hard to plan lunches for school now, because you are not allowed good 'ole PB&J. There is a lot of restrictions on kids lunches nowadays because of all the peanut oil in foods.

Not sure about Speed Racer, but my son's has Scooby Doo.

Chili is a great idea! I might have to do that for myself
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Postby Butterbean » Sun Jun 13, 2004 11:12 am

Lee wrote:
Holly wrote:However, I understand you not wanting to buy an appliance
for the office, but seriously,
toaster ovens are so good for heating things up,
and I even saw one at
Kohls a couple of months ago,
on clearance for TWELVE dollars!


Hol, she's in Korea.....


That's what seems so strange. So many small appliances seem to be made in Asian countries, it seems a cruel irony not to have one in the office.
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Postby stixx23 » Sun Jun 13, 2004 11:28 am

penguins13 wrote:thanks Chef, it is hard to plan lunches for school now, because you are not allowed good 'ole PB&J. There is a lot of restrictions on kids lunches nowadays because of all the peanut oil in foods.

I'm sorry. Perhaps it's early and I'm misreading your post. Are you saying your kids' school does not allow peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Some clarification is needed, I think. As someone who had peanut butter and strawberry jelly/jam/preserves every day for lunch for 13 years I find this hard to believe.
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Postby new cook » Sun Jun 13, 2004 4:26 pm

stixx23 wrote:
penguins13 wrote:thanks Chef, it is hard to plan lunches for school now, because you are not allowed good 'ole PB&J. There is a lot of restrictions on kids lunches nowadays because of all the peanut oil in foods.

I'm sorry. Perhaps it's early and I'm misreading your post. Are you saying your kids' school does not allow peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Some clarification is needed, I think. As someone who had peanut butter and strawberry jelly/jam/preserves every day for lunch for 13 years I find this hard to believe.

I read and re-read that too (as I was making myself a peanut butter & jam sandwich on whole wheat for my own lunch, ironically enough). First of all, I didn't know a school could dictate to a parent which foods are not allowed in a lunchbox. Must be a private school. Secondly, I can understand banning Lunchables, candy bars, soda pop and the like, but PB&J? What's wrong with PB&J? All the peanut oil in what foods? And how do they know kids are eating those other foods? What do they think is so terrible about peanuts? I'm so baffled. So confused.
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Postby wgrape » Sun Jun 13, 2004 4:37 pm

new cook wrote:
stixx23 wrote:
penguins13 wrote:thanks Chef, it is hard to plan lunches for school now, because you are not allowed good 'ole PB&J. There is a lot of restrictions on kids lunches nowadays because of all the peanut oil in foods.

I'm sorry. Perhaps it's early and I'm misreading your post. Are you saying your kids' school does not allow peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Some clarification is needed, I think. As someone who had peanut butter and strawberry jelly/jam/preserves every day for lunch for 13 years I find this hard to believe.

I read and re-read that too (as I was making myself a peanut butter & jam sandwich on whole wheat for my own lunch, ironically enough). First of all, I didn't know a school could dictate to a parent which foods are not allowed in a lunchbox. Must be a private school. Secondly, I can understand banning Lunchables, candy bars, soda pop and the like, but PB&J? What's wrong with PB&J? All the peanut oil in what foods? And how do they know kids are eating those other foods? What do they think is so terrible about peanuts? I'm so baffled. So confused.


I believe certain schools prohibit lunches with peanut based ingredients for fear that a child with a peanut allergy may somehow have contact to said ingredients.

I have also heard of schools that prohibit high sugar filled foods. I recall a principal instituted a sugar free zone and attention deficit lowered and test scores increased.
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Postby chefshawn » Sun Jun 13, 2004 6:59 pm

yeah...POTENTIAL peanut allergies in school children these days is crazy. for those that have that allergy, simply being downwind of a recently emptied planters baggie can cause a MASSIVE reaction.

that said, i hate hearing the words. when i was chef at the space and rocket center in huntsville, i had to deal with "the peanut kid" up to 4 or 5 times a year. always a different child, but we damn near had to "kosher" our kitchen to ensure that there were no peanut products available to ANY person in that dining area for the ENTIRE week. sometimes, the parent would even come in a day in advance and "check the place out."

jeez, what a tough thing for any parent to deal with...
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Postby new cook » Sun Jun 13, 2004 7:18 pm

chefshawn wrote:yeah...POTENTIAL peanut allergies in school children these days is crazy. for those that have that allergy, simply being downwind of a recently emptied planters baggie can cause a MASSIVE reaction.

that said, i hate hearing the words. when i was chef at the space and rocket center in huntsville, i had to deal with "the peanut kid" up to 4 or 5 times a year. always a different child, but we damn near had to "kosher" our kitchen to ensure that there were no peanut products available to ANY person in that dining area for the ENTIRE week. sometimes, the parent would even come in a day in advance and "check the place out."

jeez, what a tough thing for any parent to deal with...

I had no idea that the sensitivity to peanuts in children with that allergy was so strong -- that it, that it takes so little to set off a reaction. Definitely something that requires extreme care.

The other day I went to a seminar with a couple of co-workers, lunch was served to us. The salad was served with a vinaigrette that we suspected might contain mustard; one of my co-workers is allergic to mustard, it can set off a severe asthmatic attack and stop her breathing. The chicken arrived drenched in some sort of creamy sauce; my other co-worker is allergic to dairy, which for her causes intense, painful cramps.

We had the waitstaff check out the dressing to make sure an ambulance wouldn't soon be needed; it was safe. The other co-worker scraped the cream sauce off of her chicken but still suffered a bit. Without rinsing the food it was tough to remove all the offending cream. At least her allergy wasn't life threatening.

Are food allergies on the rise or are we just hearing more about it or are more aware of it?
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Postby carla » Sun Jun 13, 2004 9:39 pm

An ex-poster's daughter couldn't go to the circus because of peanut shells on the ground...
This is a difficult balancing act.
Good question, new cook. I guess in the past, peanut-allergic kids just died... :shock:
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Postby Party Flavor » Sun Jun 13, 2004 10:20 pm

new cook wrote:Are food allergies on the rise or are we just hearing more about it or are more aware of it?


Probably all of the above. It's not the fact that testing for allergies has improved, because the testing methods are still largely the same, I believe. I'm sure more doctors are looking for them, though (which will undoubtedly increase as more and more are diagnosed).

One of the theories behind the increase is that we've essentially created such a hygenic environment (with antibacterial products and such) that the immune system basically gets "bored" and starts attacking things that it otherwise wouldn't. Another is that some babies are being exposed to more "adult" foods at too early an age, before their immune systems have a chance to learn what to tolerate.
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Postby haleoalau » Sun Jun 13, 2004 11:24 pm

Butterbean wrote:
Lee wrote:
Holly wrote:However, I understand you not wanting to buy an appliance
for the office, but seriously,
toaster ovens are so good for heating things up,
and I even saw one at
Kohls a couple of months ago,
on clearance for TWELVE dollars!


Hol, she's in Korea.....


That's what seems so strange. So many small appliances seem to be made in Asian countries, it seems a cruel irony not to have one in the office.


Butterbean,

I can't speak for all office cultures, but at least for mine, everyone eats out or gets take away to bring back to the office every day. From talking to the girls here, most offices are that way. It's unusual to have any more than a coffee maker and water dispenser. At least we have a fridget to keep the soda and juice they provide cold...

They think I'm weird for not eating out. In fact, they seem quite concerned at times with what I bring and eat for lunch. (which today is fried chicken and mac salad, thanks to those who suggested it :D )
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