January 02, 2006

Packing Lunches

I still don't know how many days a week I'll be doing my cool blue-collar job—or how long, overall, it will last—so I don't want to invest in it, but I'm looking for small things to make the days easier, such as:

1) A child's watch--one I don't mind getting paint on. Problem is, most of the little boys' watches that appeal to me cost $17 and I'm not willing to pay more that $5, or $10 at the outside. (I did see one $5 watch, but it was too big for my wrist. I suspect I'll be out at Wal-Mart this week, so I might see something there or at Target (which is a block away; how cool is that?).

2) Better breakfast and lunch equipment. I've been buying bagels on job-site mornings, but I can't afford those luscious poppy-seed bagel sandwiches from Noah's forever. I can get supermarket bagels (blueberry are the best), and put cream cheese on 'em myself, but I'm still not progressing up the health ladder that way. I'd like to get a small insulated food jar, and take oatmeal in that. I've seen recipes for making oatmeal overnight in the wide-mouth thermos itself, but I think that might be packed away with my Tightwad Gazette books. The other possibility is finally breaking down and getting a Crock-Pot. I can make overnight oatmeal in that; since I can put dried fruit in it, the husband might even like to have some of it for his breakfast. (Recipes for slow-cooker oatmeal are actually abundant.)

I really like the Bento "laptop" lunch box systems, but they would be far too expensive unless I were getting a good four days a week at the job site. I do carry a satchel to work, and I might be able to carry my cold lunch on one side, with my hot breakfast oatmeal/coffee (each in a vacuum bottle) on the other side, separated by a sweatshirt.

The idea on my blue-collar mornings is to get up, make tea (in the pot), drink some, throw on clothing, and pour the rest of the tea into my insulated "travel" mug. On those days I don't carry my purse, but put a few things into my tummy pack, and everything else into my bookbag (not the nice one; the one I don't mind getting paint splatters on).

I race out the door, and get to B's house in time to carpool to the job site with him and the others. So we usually eat breakfast in the car (for me, the rest of the tea and a few store-bought muffins) until we get to the place where Starbucks and Noah bagels are next to each other. There, I refill my drink container with Chai latte, and get the expensive bagel (the one I want to replace with something cheaper and healthier).

Actually, the perfect breakfast thermos for me would have two compartments in it: I could put the oatmeal in one, and an improvised fruit compote in the other (e.g., fruit cocktail microwaved to make it warm).

So I'll be looking at Target for some of this stuff as well, as well as the tiny Japanese department store on the Westside that carries some of the nicest mult-compartment food containers I've ever seen. And those aren't pricey at all.

Obviously, share with my any box-lunch or breakfast-on-the-go wisdom you may have.

Posted by Attila Girl at January 2, 2006 01:05 AM | TrackBack
Comments

My ideal job has always been home renovation.

Posted by: gail at January 2, 2006 01:55 PM


Well, one of my aspirations--after I sell my novel and get rich/famous within seconds of its hitting the bookstores--is to buy houses and fix them up. So I'm learning something that might actually be useful to me down the road.

Posted by: Attila Girl at January 2, 2006 02:12 PM


Joy,

Coleman (the camping people) make a whole bunch of really good (and reasonably priced) thermoses. I have one at home that is a dual-compartment. About a pint on each side, two lids, two cups. Check the camping side of Wal-mart or target.

For lunch I used a soft-side cooler bag (the $5 kind) and froze two bottles of drinking water to keep things cold. The water will thaw by lunch in warm weather, giving a cold drink along with your lunch. My wife used to freeze tea or lemonade as well. With the cold pack you can take any type of tuna/chicken/egg salad (in a separate bowl) and bread to make a sandwich that isn't soggy. Veggies and fruit also do well. The lunch box then collapses for your trip home.

I currently use MREs for lunch on the go; part and parcel of the job. They have improved over the old days, but not much.

SGT Dave
Camp Victory, Iraq

Posted by: SGT Dave at January 3, 2006 12:23 AM


Sgt. Dave,

You are the MAN! Sounds like what you're recommending is sturdy, like the "trucker's Thermos" I use for road trips. Exactly what I need.

When you eat your MREs, eat them with an awareness that we here in the U.S. are truly grateful for what you're doing. And so are the Iraqi people, though our media is keeping that a secret from most of mylefty friends.

I hear C-Rations were worse, though it annoys me that you aren't getting hot meals every minute (and bikini-clad girls feeding you grapes, for that matter).

Send me a note if you'd like a care package: I'd love to put one together for your and your friends.

Posted by: Attila Girl at January 3, 2006 01:09 AM


1) What's the problem with oatmeal? Put rolled oats and boiling water into a wide-neck thermos, then wait around 20 minutes. It will be ready by the time you get to the jobsite. May need to experiment with the amount of water. Raisins and diced dried fruit should plump up just fine.

2) Blueberry bagels are sacrilege. I know I am a hypocrite - a Jew who loves everything from Thai to Mexican. But it still hurts when my home cuisine is "fusioned".

3) Here in Israel, the soldiers buy watch protectors - a thingie that looks like a sturdy plastic version of the "blister pack" type packaging. The clear plastic "dome" covers the watch and protects it, the cloth backing goes between watch and your arm. Hope I explained this well - do they sell those there?

Another trick is to cut a circle of clingy plastic wrap, and cover the watch face with it while painting. Then peel and discard. It's easier to stick the plastic on the watch and then trim off the excess, rather than try to cut a perfect circle out of the clingy film.

Hope this helps!

Posted by: Ben-David at January 3, 2006 11:43 AM


Ben-David, how do you feel about blueberry blintzes? 'Cause I do prefer them to regular cheese blintzes.

I only eat the blueberry bagels because supermarket bagels are generally so awful. When I'm at a real bagel shop I always order a poppy-seed bagel. Not toasted. With cream cheese.

Is that acceptable? ;)

I'm also very fond of Latkes, Challah, and matzo ball soup.

Posted by: Attila Girl at January 3, 2006 12:52 PM


Joy,

C-rats were not as bad as they say - at least every once in a while. My father (1SG Jim) served for several years and would bring C-rats home for camping trips.

As it is, I do eat very well. The Dining Facility (not "Mess Hall" anymore) is staffed by a bunch of really nice people who are fighting for the contract jobs. The food is almost too good for this old body (I have to watch the middle).

I appreciate the offer of a care package; the wife and extended family are taking care of me at this time. Call the Army Reserve 203rd MI Battalion or the CA National Guard - most of the armories have an adopt a soldier program. The kids need all the support they can get.

This old, grumpy sergeant appreciates the kind words and support. Be well.

"Always Out Front"
SGT Dave

Posted by: SGT Dave at January 3, 2006 09:51 PM


Thank you, Sir. I haven't yet done that. But now I will.

Posted by: Attila Girl at January 4, 2006 12:01 AM




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