This summer, I resolved to pack lunches for my husband to take to work. Three days a week he works 10-hour days, and two days a week he works 5 hours in the afternoons. So, I only need to prepare something for those three days he is away from home at lunchtime. Easy, right? I'm sad to say, I actually have only done this about 50% of the time, if that. When I do get up early enough to put a lunch together in the morning, I find I enjoy doing it. It can be fun to try to think of different things for Average to try, and different ways to include all the food groups. Yesterday, I made a pretty typical lunch for him, and documented it with our camera, to share with you! This post is part of the Purple Lunchbox series hosted by 3 Blooming Buds.
Generally, I try to have carbs, fruit, vegetables, protein, and a treat.
First, I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We like Adams Natural Peanut Butter, and home-made jam, of course. For this sandwich, I used strawberry jam made by Average's mom. We refrigerate the peanut butter to keep it from separating, so it takes a minute to "melt" into spreadable consistency.
The next item was easy: a stuffed pepper left over from dinner the night before. The pepper and several of the ingredients inside (hot pepper, onion, and tomato) came from our garden. There was also some chicken inside, which would be the majority protein source for this lunch, in addition to the cheese on top.
For the fruit element, I cut up an apple and a pear. Average is not normally a big fan of pears, but I got some from a neighbor so thought I'd see if he'd like one that didn't have to go through shipping, as the texture is normally his main complaint. The report that night was that the pear had great flavor, but a tough skin, and the apple had good texture, but little flavor. I wasn't surprised about the apple, as local apples are not quite in season here (almost!!) and this was a non-organic impulse buy the other day.
Carrot sticks are a really easy option for including a vegetable in a lunchbox. We buy organic carrots that have lots of great carroty flavor and a nice crunch. I was amazed the first time we bought them from our local store, Market of Choice, and discovered how different these were from the giant woody orange sticks we had been eating. I have to admit that the first purchase was based entirely on the fact that the cute tops were still on, but we've never gone back to non-organic with this item, as we have with some things that have a big price difference but not much of a taste difference.
The final item in this lunch was a treat. This time, I chose a half-filled bag of Kettle Chips to finish off the lunchbox. I packed it all inside Average's Nintendo lunchbox (which he loves).
There you have it: our cheap, green, (mostly) healthy lunchbox! The only things missing were a drink and a bit more protein. I mentioned this to Average and he said he'd just walk over to the mini-mart and get a soda and some beef jerky, and that way he'd be able to get out of the shop for a few minutes. As the manager of a bicycle shop, he doesn't have much time for lunch and has gotten sick of all of the places with quick food options nearby, but he still likes to leave the shop briefly to clear his head and get a break. So, having most of the food come from home saves money and is generally healthier, but needing just one more thing gives him a great excuse to get away.
If I had been making this lunch for myself, I probably would have included either the stuffed pepper, or the sandwich, but not both, and would have made sure to have a calcium-rich item in there, like a yogurt. If it was for a child, I would have cut down the total size even more, and included only a small baggie of chips.
Making a lunch at home is, in most cases, both cheaper and greener than buying a lunch out, so when I'm working I aim to pack a lunch about 50-75% of the time. Buying food items in bulk is probably the main thing that helps with the cost and makes this the greener option, so trying to minimize the amount of disposable wrapping that I use is important for maintaining the environmentally-friendly aspect. I find myself relying on plastic baggies more than I'd like, and am slowing trying to build up a store of reusable glass containers with lids (see the stuffed pepper). Sometimes I'll wrap a fruit or veggie in a cloth napkin instead of plastic, and since I don't have a lunchbox for myself, last year I would often use the same non-recyclable bag from a clothing store (why not recyclable, Banana Republic?) for a week or two before tossing it.
What are your favorite lunchbox lunches? Any suggestions for ways to spice up my husband's lunch?