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The Lunch Box: Clearing Out LeftoversBy SAMANTHA STOREYSamantha Storey
Samantha Storey is trying to make her packed lunches less boring, one box at a time.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I eat lunch almost every day at my desk. It’s not that I don’t like to eat out, but like most people, my work days are busy and convenience is king. Plus it’s amazing how much money you save brown bagging it. Lunch around Midtown, where The Times offices are located, quickly adds up to a good sum of money. I make it at home for about a quarter of what I’d spend if I bought lunch every day.
I used to bring sandwiches or the fixings for a salad in a plastic container. Maybe a side of yogurt or an apple, too. My turkey sandwiches were soggy. My salads lacked flavor and texture. Sometimes I wouldn’t even eat them at all, throwing them out at the end of the day with great shame at wasting my food.
A year ago, while reporting an article on the spread of bento lunches outside Japan, I was so inspired by some of the sources I interviewed that I started making my own bento boxes. Mostly I try to repurpose what’s in my refrigerator or pantry. Sometimes it’s just peanut butter and jelly cut into appealing shapes, with a side of fruit and cheese. Other times, like today, I need to use up the leftovers in the fridge, soon to go bad. But the fact that it looks miles better and more colorful makes it so much more appealing to eat. I’m still figuring out the best way to display everything, and usually this is dictated by time. I really only have about 10 minutes in the morning to put this together.
So here is what I made for today, set in a bento box I bought from Muji for $21.95. I will be blogging weekly on Diner’s Journal using this box to display one of my lunches. My mission is to find new and better ways to gussy up the food, as well as other ideas for what else to bring.
From top left clockwise: The chicken fingers are from Monday night, when I made a batch for my son; Tuesday’s roasted yellow cauliflower; the roasted squash was made last weekend when I attempted Melissa Clark’s squash Wellington; rice was from last night’s dinner with curried lentils; grapes for dessert. The little green tub has dressing for dipping the chicken. I bought it a year ago, but there are other condiment containers available at From Japan With Love.
I love to clean up today's dinner leftover for lunch tomorrow.