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On the go lunch ideas?


Steaky

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I'm after ideas for lunches for work.  I'm a lorry/truck driver working through an employment agency, so work is very varied and subject to changes.  If I get chance, I usually make a couple of sandwiches with a couple of candy bars for my lunch. If I don't get chance or just feel lazy, I stop by a truck stop and tend to not get the healthiest option. 

 

I wand and to cut out the truck stop food and candy bars, as well as reduce the amount of bread in my diet. So I would like some ideas on healthy alternatives that can be carried in a bag and eaten cold.  I can be quite fussy with food, I don't like tuna, salmon, mayonnaise, cold eggs, cold pasta and cheese. Am not very imaginative when it comes to food either. All suggestions welcome and considered. 

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Right off the bat, you can replace candy bars with fruit.  That will still get you some simple sugars and not need to be refrigerated.  Grabbing an apple is just as easy as a candy bar.  Also maybe set aside some time once a week to make all of your lunches.  It will be easier than making lunch five times if you can stand to eat mostly the same lunch for a week.  

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Step 1. If you don't already have a way to keep your food cold, invest in something that will do that (lunch box with cold pack/cooler/etc.)

Step 2. Deconstruct your favorite foods.

  • For example: A generic hamburger.
    • Ingredients: bun, ground beef, lettuce, tomato, pickle, condiments.
    • Exclude the bun (it's only going to get mushy)
    • Ensure meat is cooked before packing.
    • Chop or shred everything into mouth-sized pieces before packing.
    • Layer ingredients with protein (hamburger bits) on bottom.
    • Either use single-serving condiment packets, or layer condiments over meat.

Step 3. Put the ingredients in a container (options include plastic/glass Tupperware, or even a quart-sized mason jar.)

Step 4. Put packed lunch + utensil into lunch box/cooler.

 

You can deconstruct damn near any meal to fit it in a lunch container. Common meals are usually chicken + veggies + rice; beef + broccoli + rice; and chopped deli meat + salad fixings + dressing. The trick with the first two is seasoning your meats; the trick with the second is the dressing. Both chicken and beef pair really well with BBQ, Asian, and Mexican spice blends. The easiest dressing in the world is simple lime or lemon juice, or even plain olive oil, with a quick sprinkle of black pepper. If you prefer more variety, it's difficult to go wrong with a bottle of Italian and/or Ranch (respectively - I definitely don't recommend mixing them!) Just remember when you're using dressing that you should only use enough to taste - if every bite of your lunch is coated, you're using too much.

 

Yes, these meals are just as tasty when they're cold as when they're heated. Tip: trim as much fat off the meat as you can before cooking to ensure maximum palatability. Unless you like the texture of cold fat; then by all means, feel free to cook and consume as is. :P

 

You can also make a sandwich out of nearly anything, if you prefer your meals to come with a proportioned amount bread. The easiest way to store a sandwich lunch is to layer your fillings together (meat, lettuce, tomato, etc.) and put them in a plastic ziplock baggie; that way all you have to do once it's lunchtime is slide everything between your bread slices and enjoy. :) Just keep in mind that bread can get mushy if you seal it in plastic, so it's best to wrap it in a paper towel (to absorb moisture) and store it in an open baggie instead of a ziplock. Or buy a bag of tortillas and make wraps instead (also wrap in a paper towel).

 

All of these options are also very easy to make ahead, if you have a day off work and an hour to spend in the kitchen.

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On 5/24/2016 at 10:44 AM, Evicious said:

Step 1. If you don't already have a way to keep your food cold, invest in something that will do that (lunch box with cold pack/cooler/etc.)

Step 2. Deconstruct your favorite foods.

  • For example: A generic hamburger.
    • Ingredients: bun, ground beef, lettuce, tomato, pickle, condiments.
    • Exclude the bun (it's only going to get mushy)
    • Ensure meat is cooked before packing.
    • Chop or shred everything into mouth-sized pieces before packing.
    • Layer ingredients with protein (hamburger bits) on bottom.
    • Either use single-serving condiment packets, or layer condiments over meat.

Step 3. Put the ingredients in a container (options include plastic/glass Tupperware, or even a quart-sized mason jar.)

Step 4. Put packed lunch + utensil into lunch box/cooler.

 

You can deconstruct damn near any meal to fit it in a lunch container. Common meals are usually chicken + veggies + rice; beef + broccoli + rice; and chopped deli meat + salad fixings + dressing. The trick with the first two is seasoning your meats; the trick with the second is the dressing. Both chicken and beef pair really well with BBQ, Asian, and Mexican spice blends. The easiest dressing in the world is simple lime or lemon juice, or even plain olive oil, with a quick sprinkle of black pepper. If you prefer more variety, it's difficult to go wrong with a bottle of Italian and/or Ranch (respectively - I definitely don't recommend mixing them!) Just remember when you're using dressing that you should only use enough to taste - if every bite of your lunch is coated, you're using too much.

 

Yes, these meals are just as tasty when they're cold as when they're heated. Tip: trim as much fat off the meat as you can before cooking to ensure maximum palatability. Unless you like the texture of cold fat; then by all means, feel free to cook and consume as is. :P

 

You can also make a sandwich out of nearly anything, if you prefer your meals to come with a proportioned amount bread. The easiest way to store a sandwich lunch is to layer your fillings together (meat, lettuce, tomato, etc.) and put them in a plastic ziplock baggie; that way all you have to do once it's lunchtime is slide everything between your bread slices and enjoy. :) Just keep in mind that bread can get mushy if you seal it in plastic, so it's best to wrap it in a paper towel (to absorb moisture) and store it in an open baggie instead of a ziplock. Or buy a bag of tortillas and make wraps instead (also wrap in a paper towel).

 

All of these options are also very easy to make ahead, if you have a day off work and an hour to spend in the kitchen.

These are some really good ideas!!!

 

Fruit is a good substitute for candy bars. Protein bars are also a good substitute, not incredibly healthier, but typically lower in calories and higher in protein. Nuts are great. Rice cakes make a good (albeit messy) snack, add some peanut butter to them, yum! Protein shakes are also a great EASY meal/snack. You can even prepare them the night before and freeze overnight so they will still be cold when you need them the following day.

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I would also suggest getting a lunch bag that is insulated along with using an ice pack.  If you love your sandwiches, you might want to try using tortillas instead of bread.  There are some low-carb options that don't taste too horrible. (I'm a fan of carbs, so I will never go paleo.)

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I pack lunches to school quite regularly, and although you did mention looking for food that can be eaten cold, my advice like mshrmit is to get a thermal lunch bag (something like the pic), which is more versatile. Food in a tupperware put inside there keeps warm very well, but if you want it cold just stick an ice pack in there. If your food doesn't have to stay very cold you can actually forgo an ice pack, freeze a tub of yogurt and use that as an ice pack instead. It keeps well for about 4 hours (and I live in a hot country!). Another option for hot lunches is a lunch thermos, but that can be expensive. Fruit or veggies + hummus are always good snacks. And like evicious said, salads work well, just pack your dressings separately so things don't get soggy.

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I already have an insulated lunch bag. One of the best things I bought (along with my Stanley flask & Bodum mug). 

My thing about cold food is I don't have means of heating food in my truck and lunch can often be 6-8 hours after I've prepared the food at home. So food that doesn't need to be eaten hot/warm is the easiest option for that (in my opinion). 

I am going to go through all these suggestions and some of the recipe books I have & plan out some meals over the weekend for next week. 

 

Thank you everyone for all you input, it's greatly appreciated 

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On 21.5.2016 at 3:01 PM, Steaky said:

 So I would like some ideas on healthy alternatives that can be carried in a bag and eaten cold.  I can be quite fussy with food, I don't like tuna, salmon, mayonnaise, cold eggs, cold pasta and cheese. Am not very imaginative when it comes to food either. All suggestions welcome and considered. 

I also like rice/quinona/couscous salad with veggies like bell peppers/tomatoes etc. Just take the dressing in a separate container and mix when you want to eat. You can also mix those grains with roasted veggies eaten cold salad style, I have some of that as well.

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Pretty much everything CAN be eaten at room temp or cold, it just might not taste as good.  I guarantee if you are hungry enough, cold eggs, noodles or fish will start to look a lot yummier.  Keep away from the candy bars, and you might indeed get properly hungry.

 

While not a trucker, I work outdoors part time and pack lunches most days, and I get a lot of inspiration from bento lunches and picnic foods.  They are designed to keep and be eaten cold.  I make things you can eat cold (which again is pretty much everything) and bring some chopsticks to eat with.  Yesterday's lunch was a pile of simmered sweet potato, a pile of blanched spinach, and a half-sized baguette sandwich with soy sauce chicken.  Cold food does need heavier seasoning (drink extra water with it) but that also helps retard spoilage.

 

You could see about one of those devices they sell to truck drivers to heat food, such as a tiny panini grill, slow cooker, or immersion heater.  These things typically plug into your cigarette adapter, so they're pretty weak, but if you let them roll for a few minutes while driving, your food will be hot by the time you stop.  They also make some that hook right up to the battery...

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