Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Kids Didn't Like It? Feed It to Dadda! - Leftover Lunches for Work

I don't pack a lunch for Hubby every day, since sometimes he has lunch plans, or the office is catering lunch for something or other. Or I'm just not feeling inspired. Plus I tend to take it personally when he sleeps in and doesn't have time to grab it out of the fridge before racing off to catch his bus.

But when I do pack him a lunch to take for work, it's Leftover City, baby! 

Chunky Ratatouille
Leftover "Chunky Ratatouille," Naturebox Pistachio Clusters, organic shinko pear
Tuesday, 9/3/13 - This year the eggplants were plentiful in our weekly CSA farm share. I'm not a fan of eggplant, but it's more palatable with tomatoes. I found a recipe for a chunky ratatouille sauce and altered it a bit to fit what I had on-hand.. For example, I used fresh tomatoes that also came from our farm share, and subbed veggie stock for the wine. And I probably added in some kale. Whatevs. It was pretty tasty!

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Sauteed Greens with Rice
Friday, 9/6/13 - I can't remember exactly what the main dish here was, only that none of us particularly cared for it. So I fed the leftovers to Hubby!

Because I didn't have enough leftover whatever-this-was to fill the large compartment of an EasyLunchbox, I used this snap-close lidded box that came in an insulated cooler bag I was buying. For more info on this lunch box and the insulated bag, scroll down to the bottom of this post!

Zucchini "Latkes"
Organic tomato, organic salad (red lettuce, cabbage, kale, hemp hearts,) adapted Veggie Birds Nests
Tuesday, 9/10/13 - just like my Veggie Birds Nests for MOMables, except with grated carrot and zucchini (and slices onion)  instead of cabbage and leeks, since that's what I had in my farm share.

More Chunky Ratatouille (plus Sauteed Zucchini)
Leftover "Chunky Ratatouille," organic grapes, leftover mushroom and kale sautee
9/17/13 - More ratatouille! Plus some kale, mushrooms, and onion I'd sauteed up the night before. Yum!

At this point I was using up the last of the leftover ratatouille, and the liquids had separated, making it very runny. I put plastic wrap over the compartment before putting the lid on, to help prevent leaks.
I wasn't 100% successful. Since Hubby carries his lunch sideways for his hour commute (walking to bus stop, riding to work, walking to work from bus stop,) some liquid got out. But not all of it! So a partial success!

Chicken Pot Pie with Corn on the Cob
Leftover chicken pot pie (NOT GF,) leftover organic roasted corn,
leftover DF tzatziki sauce, leftover carrots, celery, tomatoes
Thursday, 9/26/13 - Hubby's work had catered lunch the day or so before, and there was an entire leftover chicken pot pie that he brought home. He looooooves pot pie! So it got portioned out over a few dinners and lunches.

It makes me sad to look at this lunch, since my best friend Unka Seesee had just passed away a few weeks before this lunch was packed, and the day before he died I'd gone to deliver some supplies (he was house-bound due to a recent surgery) and he gave me one of his specialties - a frozen pot pie to take home for Hubby. So this pot pie reminds me of that.

The veggies in the jumbo muffin cup were actually left over from his memorial service. A few of his family members and I took some leftovers home and the rest went to the students in the dorm at the church the service had been at. He loved feeding people, so that was a perfect way to celebrate him!

More Pot Pie
Leftover chicken pot pie (NOT GF,) organic pluot and kiwi berries, leftover GF fried eggplant and green tomatoes 
Friday, 9/27/13 - More leftover pot pie. And some fried green tomatoes and eggplant slices I made with gluten-free breadcrumbs. Some I baked and some I fried. The fried ones were far superior! They didn't hold up well as leftovers though, apparently. Blarch.


In the bento world, EasyLunchboxes are my first love. If you were to ask me what items I recommend to get started, I'd say EasyLunchboxes (because they're a durable and affordable way to get started, plus very user-friendly both to use, store, and clean!) and silicone muffin cups. If you have kids and want to make it cute, get a pack or two of food or cupcake picks, and some regular and mini cookie cutters in fun shapes your kids like.

I pack 1-2 lunches (usually 3, occasionally 4) in my EasyLunchboxes every weekday. And I use the EasyLunchboxes insulated cooler bag for E's and my lunch every time I pack for either (or both) of us, which is almost every weekday. Unless we have plans to take Gramma to lunch!

But for Hubby and Little Z, I use something else. Hubby uses this bag from Arctic Zone and it came with a snap-side divided lunch box (similar to this one.) I don't use the box much at all, since it's nothing special, and while the lid is water-tight, the inner compartments are not sealed off from each other. But Hubby uses the bag every time he takes lunch to work. And I got a pink one for Little Z for her Kindergarten lunches, and send it almost every day. 

Here's why I prefer the Arctic Zone bag for my Kindergartener and Hubby: 
  • The lining is looser but a stiff material, so it "hugs" the EasyLunchbox, keeping it from shifting around side to side or up and down (Hubby carries his lunch sideways, so this is important!) 
  • I can keep the bag "short," which is perfect for holding just one box. Or unzip around the side and let it expand, which then fits a water bottle too!
  • The handle is short. I like being able to loop the EasyLunchboxes cooler handle over my arm like a purse handle, since I tend to lug around a lot of stuff between the house and the car. But for short little Z, the short handle still loops over her arm, but isn't hanging down banging into her legs. And Hubby feels less like he's carrying a purse...
  • Thicker "walls." The bag itself is thicker all around, making it easier to stuff into a Kindergartener's backpack or Hubby's messenger bag without having to wrestle with it. The EasyLunchbox cooler has thinner more flexible sides, which is great to fold for storage, but can take more time trying to fit it into something else when it has extra room inside. Because it, well, folds as you're trying to fit it in, instead of just going in first!
  • The ice pack that comes with it is freaking amazing. It's kept stuff chilled in the bag overnight when *cough* someone forgot to empty it out and put the lunch leftovers back in the fridge.
The down-side though, is that unlike the EasyLunchboxes cooler, the Arctic Zone bag isn't machine washable. It is NOT AT ALL FUN to clean out a leak that Hubby neglected to mention from two weeks before, when I'd last packed. Or to try and get yogurt or berry juice out, since the inside layer of material is loose, so there's nooks and crannies e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e!

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