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Author Topic: How to fill a lunch box...
Narwhal
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So I'll be starting back in school this fall, and I've decided for a variety of reasons that bringing a lunch with me is the best idea.

So I'm wondering if anybody has any lunchbox favorites? Especially things that don't require refrigeration or reheating, though I will probably invest in a wide-mouthed thermos for soups and stuff.

And a related question: is soy milk (or other milk-substitutes) safe to keep at room temperature for a while? How about vegan mayonnaise?

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ASargent42
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If you get the soy or rice milk that comes in the cardboard cartons, on the regular shelf in the store, that would be ok. Those you can actually find in the little lunch-box sized cartons, like juice boxes [Smile] you could also look for the vegan mayonnaise in the individual packets (do you have a vegan or vegetarian restaurant nearby that might stock up on those? They might be able to help you out with that)


Unfortunately, most of my vegetarian food choices involve needing an ice pack or refrigerator. I don't know if you eat any seafood at all, but i'm partial to the foil pouches of tuna. And if you have hot water or a microwave available, you can find cup-of-noodles type items, or microwaveable soup cups in the vegetarian/vegan section.

Other than that, there is always the reliable favorite of PB&J. Hopefully some other users have better ideas!!

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orca
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There's also Horizon organic milk (which comes in chocolate too!) that comes in cardboard cartons and doesn't need refrigeration. They're pretty good too. I'm not sure if it counts as a milk substitute, though. I'll second the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Peanut butter has protein, so it gives you plenty of energy. Nuts and trail mixes are my personal favorites and also give energy (and have plenty of other healthy benefits, like helping with mood). Butter or margarine on sandwiches is a healthy alternative to mayo and it doesn't spoil as easily as mayo.

And if you have a terrible sweet-tooth like me, you can always look around allrecipes.com for some healthier cookie or brownie recipes and then bring those with you instead of the store-bought stuff. It takes more work, but in the end they usually taste better anyways and are healthier.

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Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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Bun Bun
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I love packing salads in rubbermaid containers. I make them the night before, adding all my favourite things. I also make my own dressing (it's easy really: sweet and sour sauce, white vinegar and olive oil). Of course, this needs to be kept cool, but an ice pack really takes care of that. They're cheap, and they keep everything nice and fresh. Plus, if you get a headache, or hurt yourself or something, they're a lot more handy than a frozen bag of peas.

As well, I find that cutting up a bunch of fruit and putting it in a container really helps to curb my appetite when I feel like grazing and eating a bag of chips.

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Narwhal
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Awesome, thanks for the input, guys! I found another option today for the beverages while I was looking at the little cartons of milk and soy milk and whatnot in the health food store. Turns out you can get powdered soy milk that you just mix with water. So each day I can just put some powder in a reusable bottle, add water at lunchtime, and presto, instant milk-like beverage. I could probably do the same with powdered milk, it's just...I don't really like powdered milk very much. [Razz]

Also, if anyone else on the board is looking for some ideas, I have one more to add: I've gotten a wide-mouthed thermos for soups. Just before the semester starts, I'll make up some big batches of yummy soups--lentil is a favorite of mine, and I have a recipe for a good split pea soup, too. Then I'll freeze them in ice cube trays, and heat up enough soup for the day each morning, bring it with me in my thermos, and have a good healthy main-dish kind of thing for lunch [Smile]

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KittenGoddess
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I used to take a lot of sandwiches with me that I'd make up in parts. So when I came home from the store, I'd cut up all of my ingredients and put them into individual baggies and containers. Then I'd toss all my separate baggies into my lunch bag with a cold-pack and be off. It's nice to make sandwiches that way because it doesn't get that mushy, general sandwich texture and taste. All the ingredients maintain their integrity. For example, I used to take my bread in one container, my turkey in another, and then bag all my veggies (usually lettus, tomato, and cucumber) in a separate bag.

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Sarah Liz

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Ecofem
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This is a fun and practical topic, deserving of a bump! I don't know about others in the Northern Hemisphere but I'm feeling the mid-winter, snowy blahs, and a fun lunch is a good way to help pep up my day. [Smile]

Any more suggestions for packing a lunch that is delicious and nutritious but not about dieting or denial?

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Bun Bun
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Alright so this year we invested in one of those vacuum sealers. It was on sale, and we figured we could buy food in bulk and it would keep longer (lunch meat and cheese last forever now)! So my dad had this idea to put together little lunch packs with it. After a grocery run, he'll chop up a bunch of fruit or vegetables and make individual sized servings. Since they're vacuum packed, they stay fresh and crunchy forever (like MONTHS), and I just grab one or two and throw them in my lunch bag. Quick, easy, and a great way to get some fruits and veggies into my diet!

Not all fruits and veggies work though. The best are grapes and carrots. I think apples would work well too, but I usually just eat those whole so it doesn't matter XD Cantelope and kiwi also work well, just you have a lot of juice leftover in the bag afterwards. Don't EVER do it with brocolli or cauliflower. Learned my lesson the hard way, and ended up with a bag that smelt like farts [Razz]

As well for the more environmentally conscious, the bags are easily resealed. So if you make them big enough to start with, you can just bring it home afterwards, rinse it a bit, and make another pack!

I've found the best tip for eating healthy when packing a lunch is to pack a bit more than you think you're going to eat. I tend to get hungry mid afternoon, and don't have a snack because I've already eaten my lunch. Also, I tend to underestimate how hungry I'll be at lunch because when I pack my lunch, I've just had breakfast. If I pack more than I think I'll eat, I won't go buy a bag of chips or pretzels since I already have food [Smile] Oh and the things I pack are like individual yoghurt containers (so awesome! way healthier than you'd think), granola bars, more fruit, some crackers, dried dates, stuff like that. Filling, yet not junk!

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Smiley64
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One of my favorite things to bring is Pasta salad,Usually the Suddenly Salad brand. Some of them contain mayonnaise, but there is also some that with oil that don't need refrigeration.
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Love-Life
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Last year I bought some containers that are fabulous for packing home made salads in, they have a big compartment for the lettuce, a small very-sealed container for the salad dressing that hooks into the lid of the container, an ice pack that also hooked into the lid, and a small compartment for a little spork and knife. It kept the salad cold (great for if you like egg in your salad... or meat I'm sure) and not soggy because you pour the dressing on when you are ready to eat. (I used to cut an avacado in half at home and seal it in a bag and then open it right when I wanted to eat it, it kept it from going brown.)

The same brand also makes breakfast containers which have two compartments for yogurt, for cereal or fruit or whatever. and it also comes with an ice pack. I really like being able to have healthy food that is filling.

And for snack cravings (you know when you're sitting in a three or four hour lecture at 4pm and you're starving and sleepy?) I bring a full zip lock bag with almonds, dried cranberries, dried apple and whatever else is around and cheap. It's really filling and satisfying for me, and the whole bag usually lasts me about 3 days (I keep it in my purse!). (If I'm ever stuck at school with no snack our vending machines have unsalted trail mix which is super expensive but very tasty and healthy.)

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:-) Vikki (-:

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Bun Bun
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Love-Life, I saw those containers you're talking about in a recent Avon catalogue. Now I think I might just get them since they're quite reasonably priced [Smile]
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LondonBlue
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If you live near a Trader Joe's, they have these amazing snack cheeses that come in delicious sharp cheddar (and light versions if you want that!). They're sort of shaped like string cheese, but they are just sticks of cheddar (or other types...I eat the cheddar ones). In high school I used to love having them in my lunch because by lunchtime they got a little warm and soft and it made them TEN TIMES BETTER. Hahaha. The other thing I do with them is cut them up and put them on sandwiches--one stick is the perfect size to fill a sandwich (I'll even throw it in the microwave for 30 seconds to get a delicious melted cheddar sandwich!).

Also, if you want to invest some time and have some unique, fun lunches, you might want to check out bento, which is basically the Japanese art of box lunches, lol. There are lots of websites out there with tips and recipes and great pictures. Wikipedia is a good place to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bento

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just_curious 411
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Some types of soymilk can be stored at room temp while other brands cannot. Silk, for example, must be refrigerated (hence, it's found in the refrigerated section at the grocery store). Meanwhile, boxed soymilk(which is usually found on shelves in the health-food aisle) can be stored at room temp. Once you open up the carton, however, it has to be refrigerated.
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just_curious 411
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By the way, here are some of my favorite brown-bag items:

- Whole wheat bagel w/organic peanut butter
(you can always sub almond butter for the pb)
- Wheat pita pocket filled with fresh veggies
(the alternative sandwich)
- Pita, Naan, or flatbread w/hummus dip
- Trai-mix w/almonds and raisins
(you can also add granola or some other type
of whole grain cereal for extra crunch!)

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