Bag Lunch Ideas

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Bag Lunch Ideas

Postby SilverMaple » Wed May 20, 2015 3:24 am

I'm trying to save money and be a bit healthier by packing lunches rather than buying them, but somewhere between high school and university, I seem to have lost my ability to make bag lunches that aren't completely dull. Therefore, I'm gathering lunch ideas that are quick and easy to make.

Last year during work, I got into the habit of not bothering to pack a lunch because:

1. We get a lunch allowance every day we work out of the city (i.e. basically every day, as well as lunch and dinner during overnight stays) and
2. My repertoire of lunch items is basically limited to tuna sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Needless to say, that gets boring fast, and I end up just buying whatever happens to be convenient (usually some awful fried stuff that makes me feel like crap for the rest of the day).

I'm open to just about anything, so long as it doesn't contain processed meats/cold cuts (which I find to be really gross), or sesame seeds (which my work partner is allergic to), and doesn't need to be heated up (as I very rarely have access to a microwave). So, do you have any favourite lunch-type recipes, or tips for making lunches more interesting?
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Re: Bag Lunch Ideas

Postby Matthew Notch » Wed May 20, 2015 3:52 am

Hummus is a good lunch item. But it's important that you make your own hummus rather than buy it at the store. Hummus at the store tastes like chickpeas. There are chickpeas in hummus, so you'd think that follows. But good hummus is more than the sum of its parts. My hummus has been described by several customers at the wine bar as "the best in town", and many who don't like hummus love mine. Here is the recipe, as best I can manage, and with unsweetened peanut butter instead of tahini, since sesame seeds allergies:

7 parts chickpeas
1 part unsweetened peanut butter
1/2 part each lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic per kg of chickpeas
1 part water, added slowly and only as needed
Paprika, Cumin, Salt, and Cayenne to taste

One trick is to peel the garlic but let it sit out on the counter overnight, so that it gets a little soft. Garlic that's slightly turned makes very deep hummus. Shake the peanut butter well before adding to the food processor, and add the garlic and salt and spices, then turn it on. Add the lemon juice while the garlic is being processed, and then slowly add the olive oil to emulsify slightly. At this point I recommend adding a squirt or two of sriracha, which adds further complexity and helps with the heat--hummus is best when spicy. Stop the processor and add the chickpeas, then run it again, adding water as necessary to reach the desired consistency. To serve guests, spread on a plate and make a little well, then add condiments and accoutrements as you like. We use feta cheese, red pepper strips and black olives. Fill the well with olive oil, then sprinkle paprika over everything.

Obviously if you're packing it for lunch you don't have to make it look all fancy. It's good to take some veggies like sliced cucumber and red pepper as well as some pita or pita chips. Also, if the work you do is strenuous at all, might I recommend some homemade Gatorade?

1 packet Kool-Aid
A little more than half the recommended amount of sugar
1/4 teaspoon each of table salt and "lite" salt, which is magnesium chloride

The best kind, in my opinion, is strawberry-kiwi, but the blue raspberry lemonade is fire as hell as well. Amazing when you've been doing anything sweaty.
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Re: Bag Lunch Ideas

Postby JamishT » Wed May 20, 2015 4:07 am

I don't really like cold sandwiches, so I microwave mine for about 40 secs at work. It's like a warm meal for the cost of a sandwich, and that's winning to me!

But otherwise...um...ice cream? That doesn't require heating AND it's delicious!

Gosh, the thought of cold lunches is just so sad to me...
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Re: Bag Lunch Ideas

Postby CarrieVS » Wed May 20, 2015 9:11 am

I take instant soup for my packed lunch - you don't need a microwave but you do need a kettle. It's hardly the best soup in the world, but I have a particular brand and flavour that I actually really like.

What about cheese and crackers? Take some sliced vegetables, apple (splash with lemon juice and bring it in an airtight container, and it won't go brown), grapes, whatever you fancy, and if you like a little bit of pickle or something in a container.

Try a different kind of bread sometimes to make sandwiches more interesting. Pita bread is particularly good for the sort of fillings that tend to splurge out when you take a bite, because it contains them nicely.

There are more sandwich fillings than tuna and peanut butter! Cheese is always a good standby, though you'll have to be careful about what you put with it, so as not to make the bread soggy (if you want a soggy extra like tomato, you could always take cheese sandwiches and a sliced tomato and assemble before eating). I often take marmite if I'm packing a sandwich as it tends not to be spoiled by being left or squashed, but that's not to everyone's taste.
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Re: Bag Lunch Ideas

Postby ShuaiGuy » Wed May 20, 2015 9:21 am

<Redacted>
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Last edited by ShuaiGuy on Sat Mar 26, 2016 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bag Lunch Ideas

Postby Andropov4 » Wed May 20, 2015 9:55 am

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Re: Bag Lunch Ideas

Postby Jack Road » Wed May 20, 2015 10:03 am

Spoiler: show
Matthew Notch wrote:Hummus is a good lunch item. But it's important that you make your own hummus rather than buy it at the store. Hummus at the store tastes like chickpeas. There are chickpeas in hummus, so you'd think that follows. But good hummus is more than the sum of its parts. My hummus has been described by several customers at the wine bar as "the best in town", and many who don't like hummus love mine. Here is the recipe, as best I can manage, and with unsweetened peanut butter instead of tahini, since sesame seeds allergies:

7 parts chickpeas
1 part unsweetened peanut butter
1/2 part each lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic per kg of chickpeas
1 part water, added slowly and only as needed
Paprika, Cumin, Salt, and Cayenne to taste

One trick is to peel the garlic but let it sit out on the counter overnight, so that it gets a little soft. Garlic that's slightly turned makes very deep hummus. Shake the peanut butter well before adding to the food processor, and add the garlic and salt and spices, then turn it on. Add the lemon juice while the garlic is being processed, and then slowly add the olive oil to emulsify slightly. At this point I recommend adding a squirt or two of sriracha, which adds further complexity and helps with the heat--hummus is best when spicy. Stop the processor and add the chickpeas, then run it again, adding water as necessary to reach the desired consistency. To serve guests, spread on a plate and make a little well, then add condiments and accoutrements as you like. We use feta cheese, red pepper strips and black olives. Fill the well with olive oil, then sprinkle paprika over everything.

Obviously if you're packing it for lunch you don't have to make it look all fancy. It's good to take some veggies like sliced cucumber and red pepper as well as some pita or pita chips. Also, if the work you do is strenuous at all, might I recommend some homemade Gatorade?

1 packet Kool-Aid
A little more than half the recommended amount of sugar
1/4 teaspoon each of table salt and "lite" salt, which is magnesium chloride

The best kind, in my opinion, is strawberry-kiwi, but the blue raspberry lemonade is fire as hell as well. Amazing when you've been doing anything sweaty.


Holy mother of Vladimir Putin, how do you have so few likes for this? You just changed my hummus eating experience forever.

Store-bought hummus is good. So this stuff, by the principal of equivalent exchange that is totally a real thing and not something anyone ever got from an anime, this stuff must be legen---wait for it.

Okay, so I was trying to find pictures of Neil Patrick Harris eating hummus, but couldn't find any, so then tried to Photoshop hummus into a picture of Neil Patrick Harris in some humorous fashion, but don't have Photoshop and can't Photoshop. So anyways. I've failed you guys, I'm sorry

dary! Legendary!
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Re: Bag Lunch Ideas

Postby Tuli » Wed May 20, 2015 10:46 am

I like this Japanese omelet recipe because it's made to eat while cold and quite easy to make. The rolling part might seem a bit intimidating at first (it did to me) but it's actually easy to do.



I usually don't bother with the sieve... And like any omelet, you can add whatever you like to it. :P
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Re: Bag Lunch Ideas

Postby SilverMaple » Wed May 20, 2015 11:56 pm

ShuaiGuy wrote:.............What kind of cave do you work in?!


A cave would be a luxury. My office is a big white van, which I slowly drive up and down residential streets whilst carefully examining each yard. I'm 100% serious, but before you call the police to tell them to free the poor souls I undoubtedly have locked up in my basement, I swear it's not as creepy as it sounds. I never collect hostages during work hours, only on my off time.

The simple explanation of it is that I look for elm firewood and trees with Dutch elm disease and mark them to be removed. That translates into a lot of travelling around the province, and hence why I have to eat lunch sitting in a van (or outside, if it's nice out) 95% of the time. So there's no fridge or microwave to speak of, just a small beach cooler that I bring along.

You guys have some really great suggestions! Notch, do you use canned chickpeas for that recipe? I don't think I've seen any other kind in the grocery store, or at least I haven't looked for any other kind. Either way, I love hummus, and just taking a container of that along with some chips and veggies sounds like a great idea. I'm glad you don't mind sharing your secret recipes. :) The Gatorade also looks brilliant, since I drank a bottle of the actual, expensive stuff a day during the hottest part of the summer.

I don't know why I didn't think of pita bread myself, that would be perfect for bag lunches, and isn't quite as heavy as regular bread. I've never tried marmite - all I know about it, I learned from this video, which probably isn't the most reliable source.



Those egg rolls look delicious, I'll probably try making those sometime soon, since eggs are one of those seemingly few things that give me more energy without a resulting crash or slump later on in the day. Being able to make different varieties is always nice, too.
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Re: Bag Lunch Ideas

Postby MeatPuppet » Thu May 21, 2015 12:34 am

Jack Road wrote:Okay, so I was trying to find pictures of Neil Patrick Harris eating hummus, but couldn't find any, so then tried to Photoshop hummus into a picture of Neil Patrick Harris in some humorous fashion, but don't have Photoshop and can't Photoshop. So anyways. I've failed you guys, I'm sorry

Would this be sufficient?
NeilPatrickHummus.png
NeilPatrickHummus.png (204.91 KiB) Viewed 1846 times
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Re: Bag Lunch Ideas

Postby SilverMaple » Thu May 21, 2015 12:55 am

I have a sudden urge to eat hummus. And to put on one of those fake handlebar moustaches. Possibly both at the same time.
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Re: Bag Lunch Ideas

Postby Matthew Notch » Thu May 21, 2015 3:47 am

SilverMaple wrote:Notch, do you use canned chickpeas for that recipe? I don't think I've seen any other kind in the grocery store, or at least I haven't looked for any other kind. Either way, I love hummus, and just taking a container of that along with some chips and veggies sounds like a great idea. I'm glad you don't mind sharing your secret recipes. :) The Gatorade also looks brilliant, since I drank a bottle of the actual, expensive stuff a day during the hottest part of the summer.

I don't know why I didn't think of pita bread myself, that would be perfect for bag lunches, and isn't quite as heavy as regular bread.


I do use canned chickpeas. They do the trick just fine. If you really want to go all out, buy dry chickpeas and soak them overnight, and carefully pick the husks floating at the top off. The hummus will then be waaaaaaay fluffier. People who make hummus a lot generally buy a food mill for that purpose.

Pita bread is really great for bag lunches, period. I used to work construction, and I'd buy some smoked turkey and pepperjack cheese and make little pita pocket sandwiches to eat for lunch. Man, those things were good. At least they were good enough when you worked long hours in the hot sun lifting stacks of 2x4s. You can stuff them with anything, even if it's just peanut butter and jelly. Maybe especially then. In fact, I recommend making pita pocket peanut butter and jelly, and then lightly grilling the outside with butter before you pack it up. It may, or may not, but probably and actually definitely will change your life.
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Re: Bag Lunch Ideas

Postby LaChaise » Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:33 pm

I tried your hummus recipe Notch! I was a bit skeptical at first, because tahini and peanut butter really are not the same, but it worked pretty well! I didn't have any paprika or cumin, so I put powdered ginger instead and it was quite nice. It's not *exactly* the same as the hummus I'm used to but it's still pretty great and unlike tahini, I always have some peanut butter in my kitchen.

Thanks for the recipe!
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Re: Bag Lunch Ideas

Postby Matthew Notch » Sat Jul 11, 2015 4:55 am

Oh man, I gotta try powdered ginger in hummus one of these days. Actually, I really need to use ginger more often. I love the stuff but it's woefully underused in my kitchen. I think I don't think about it when I'm trying to invent something.
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Re: Bag Lunch Ideas

Postby JamishT » Sat Jul 11, 2015 5:50 am

Matthew Notch wrote:Oh man, I gotta try powdered ginger in hummus one of these days. Actually, I really need to use ginger more often. I love the stuff but it's woefully underused in my kitchen. I think I don't think about it when I'm trying to invent something.


It's a pretty strong spice, Notch, so use it...gingerly!

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