Packing a lunch
I've brought my lunch with me almost exclusively since kindergarten (there was that brief affair with the ala cart section of my 7th grade cafeteria, but must I tell you about the time I consumed large amounts of super pretzels, red baron mini-pizzas and various frozen treats?). I was always the kid who got weird looks about my lunch, even after I started packing it myself (plain rice cakes with peanut butter and honey; left-over veggie quiche; kiwi fruit; slivered almonds, dates) and sometimes I envied the kids with baggies of cookies and chips. Occasionally I still get weird looks (but I also get compliments on how good my lunch smells).
Tonight for my lunch, err dinner (since I had to work late), I brought leftover brown rice (I find that brown rice reheats very nicely in the microwave) with nori goma furikake (seaweed, sesame seed, rice cake and msg), frozen peas, a mozzarella cheese stick and strawberries. It was nice, it felt healthy. Packing lunches has become so much easier and harder as an adult. Easier because I have access to a refrigerator, freezer and microwave and this opens up possibilities like tonight's meal that I didn't have as a kid. Harder because I am no longer happy eating the same sandwich (cheese, lettuce and cucumber on whole wheat with spicy mustard) with carrot sticks everyday.
I have found it is helpful to have a bit of "school lunch" mindset when packing my lunch, having things like string cheese, fruit cups (applesauce or mandarin oranges), dried fruit, nuts (sometimes in the guise of trail-mix)and snacky crackers (white cheddar cheese-its, goldfish!) in the pantry can make lunches easier to pack. And sometimes a PB&J just hits the spot.
Venturing out of the school mindset I also think frozen fruits and veggies help-out. Those bags of mixed frozen fruit translate nicely into individual servings of partially frozen fruit salad (blah if totally thawed). Frozen veggies translate into easy rice plus veggies meals ('steam' some frozen stir-fry veggies, shake with some sauce*, dump on top of reheated rice) or simple like my rice and peas tonight. And those "baby" carrots steam decently in the microwave as well.
I really need to compile a list of my lunch ideas (that was my intention here, but this post got too long). I also will bring leftovers (like coconut curry) and store-bought frozen meals for lunch, but that will be another post some other day.
*sauce= 2 parts water, 1 part soy sauce, dash of garlic-chili sauce (or toasted sesame oil) and maybe some grated ginger if I prepare this the night before