Saturday, January 05, 2008

We'll Do Lunch!

I confess to having a fascination with lunch boxes. I never carried one when I was a kid, I always got lunch money and suffered through some pretty bad cafeteria food. Maybe that’s the reason for my inclination. When my kids were in grammar school I stumbled across some really neat canvas lunch bags that would hold an ice pack that you could refreeze. I paid, what seemed at the time, an enormous price so the kids would not have to suffer the same lunchroom fate. My wife would make healthy lunches and send the gang off to school to be the envy of their classmates.

Well that didn’t last long. It seemed that the kids had more important things to think about than carrying or returning lunch boxes. After recovering the lunch bags from the lost and found a number of times they finally disappeared. We switched over to brown bags but they were found squished on the bottom of backpacks at the end of the week. We decided to give the kids lunch money and they were happy.

My interest in lunch boxes was rekindled when I saw a public broadcasting special on the dabba wallas of India. Imagine a home cooked meal delivered to your work in cute stackable metal tiffin boxes. A fascinating idea but the metal trays didn’t seem practical in today’s microwaveable world.

My most recent flirtation is with Bento Boxes. It is almost an art form for some. It turns out there is bunch of people with a similar lunch box ideas. I fell in love, on line, with a lunch box named Mr. Bento. It is essentially a large thermal container with built in containers that stay hot or cold as desired. I had to have one. I pulled out the old credit card and ordered two. They are not cheap, but I rationalized that if my wife and I used them daily they would pay for themselves.

I had been packing lunches in big old Coleman canvas covered cooler. I put a water bottle on the bottom then refreeze ice packs with the entrée on top. The Mr. Bento looks really cool but presents a number of problems. The containers need to be hand washed instead of being put in the dishwasher, which is not a grand plan in my world. One has to be extremely careful to keep the bentos vertical or anything liquid will leak out. I can still smell chicken broth in the trunk of my car! I have switched back to my ugly but functional Coleman.

Lately there has been a caterer coming around my work selling tasty complete hot lunches with large portions of meat, starch and vegetable all for $5 to $7. What the heck maybe I’ll give myself lunch money.

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