Tired of eating ho-hum, overpriced takeout for lunch? Try some of these inspired homemade options.
: Lunches kept at room temperature can spoil. Pack your lunch with an insulated ice bag, or keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to eat.
Step 1: Make a one-dish wonder On Sunday, bake lasagna, mac-and-cheese, or another hearty casserole. Pack individual portions in containers and reheat at lunchtime.
TIP: Make sure your lunch container is microwave-safe. Some plastic containers leach harmful chemicals when microwaved.
Step 2: Enhance your sandwich Take the boring out of a basic sandwich with spreads like hummus, pesto, or olive tapenade and pita or naan instead of the usual sliced loaf. Liven up fillings by adding grapes and walnuts to chicken salad or dressing tuna salad with olive oil and a hint of balsamic vinegar instead of mayo.
Step 3: Wrap it up Reuse leftovers and make them more portable by wrapping them up in a tortilla. Or, concoct a quesadilla by combining equal parts cream cheese or cheddar, black beans, and salsa, spreading the mixture on a tortilla, and folding the tortilla in half. Wrap in foil and heat it in a toaster oven at lunch, or eat it cold.
TIP: Complement your tortilla with an agua fresca: Combine water, blended melon or mango, and sugar to taste, and pour into an insulated thermos.
Step 4: Bento Box Buy a Japanese bento box or pack a plastic container according to bento-box guidelines: Three parts grain, like rice or pasta, one part protein, and two parts fruits and vegetables. Even though the boxes originated in Japan, the rules apply for any cuisine.
TIP: Pack the bento box—or any lunch container—without any gaps so that food won’t slide around in transit.
Step 5: Melt up fondue Try a French twist. Prepare cheese fondue by combining white wine, cornstarch, fondue cheese, and garlic in a medium saucepan. Once the mixture melts, remove the garlic and pour the cheese into a thermos that has been preheated in boiling water for 10 minutes. It will keep in an insulated lunch bag for several hours. Bring along vegetables and baguette chunks, and use a long fork to dip them into the cheese.
FACT: In 2001, an unused 1954 Superman lunch box sold in an auction for $11,500.