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Non-Refrigerated Lunch Options


hillvalley
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The new school doesn't have a fridge (hell, we don't have computers or phones, why would I expect a fridge :lol: ). Breadline is wonderful but getting expensive and I can't leave the building a whole lot now that the kids are here.

So what do I bring for lunch? Everything I can think of, salads, leftovers, sandwiches need refrigeration. I know sandwiches don't always need refridgeration but it's one of my nutty food things and I have trouble eating sandwiches that have been sitting around over night (I used to drive my mother crazy as a kid).

Help! What can I bring?

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The new school doesn't have a fridge (hell, we don't have computers or phones, why would I expect a fridge :lol: ).  Breadline is wonderful but getting expensive and I can't leave the building a whole lot now that the kids are here.

So what do I bring for lunch?  Everything I can think of, salads, leftovers, sandwiches need refrigeration. I know sandwiches don't always need refridgeration but it's one of my nutty food things and I have trouble eating sandwiches that have been sitting around over night (I used to drive my mother crazy as a kid).

Help!  What can I bring?

Do you have a prep area?

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Perhaps I am betraying my New England origins, but how about a Fluffernutter? For those unfamiliar with this delicacy, its peanut butter with Fluff on white bread. But you can't use marshmallow creme; it must be Fluff. This can be hard to find around here, but I saw it today at the Shoppers in Pentagon Yard. Fluffernutter is not Breadline (yum...Breadline), but honestly can be a nice break from other easy to take on-the-go lunches.

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Do you have a prep area?

Ha! You make me laugh, a prep area. Right now I am lucky I have a desk (which is somewhere under the stack of reports they just gave me :lol: )

Peanut butter and jelly!  :P

Yeah, um, pb&j makes me gag. One of the things I don't miss about teaching elementary school is that there will be no pb&j encounters this year.

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Is there a microwave?

I bought Mr. BLB a lunch sack, and frozen gel packs and send him with sandwiches. I occasionally will send partially frozen soup that he can nuke.

I have also had luck freezing those nalogen (sp?) water bottles from Eddie Bauer and they would keep your lunch bag cold for a while.

I also have my eye on this: Mr. Bento

Good luck!

Jennifer

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I just bring whatever's leftover and throw it on my desk. Yogurt, pizza, chicken Korma, lentils and pork belly, cold pasta and fresh tomatoes, cheese. Whatever. The need for refridgeration is vastly exagerrated.

If you're really paranoid, you might get one of those little blue freezy things and a six-pack-sized cooler from the drug store and shove them in your fridge every evening when you get home.

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If you're really paranoid, you might get one of those little blue freezy things and a six-pack-sized cooler from the drug store and shove them in your fridge every evening when you get home.

A second for this idea. Mrs JPW and I have a couple soft insulated lunch bags which, along with the "little blue freezy things" keep lunch well refridgerated.

Also, buy a big old thermos and bring hot soup in.

Edited by JPW
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What about hot water? Why not bring some in a thermos if there isn't a source for any, and use the water to rehydrate noodle or grain-based soup-in-a-cup-type options. Annie Chun's or Thai rice noodle bowls sold at Trader Joe's aren't bad, and there are some Asian-flavored cup noodles at Whole Foods that aren't too bad. I survived on those for a long time when I had no lunch break and had to eat while working at my desk.

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Another PB&J variation is PB and Banana - put the peanut butter on both slices of bread so the banana slices don't slide around. It's surprisingly good; salty and sweet.

If you have a microwave, a good ethnic grocery will have microwaveable non-frozen Indian food. Usually some sort of Dal or other vegatarian offering that is stable at room temperature.

I agree with the idea of getting those little blue cooler things to stick in your lunchbox. We use it for my kids and they work well. To be honest, if my wife hadn't got them I wouldn't have bothered. I used to take tuna fish or meat sandwiches to school in a paper bag and never suffered any ill effects. Eating cafeteria food was always more of a gamble :-)

Another option is tunafish and crackers or some of the prepared tunafish meals you can buy off the shelf in the tuna can section of your grocery.

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I am a big fan of chunky PB, apple slices, and sprinkle of cinnamon. I have tried peaches, all kinds of berries, figs, and nectarines w/ PB, but crispy apple slices always stand out. Once in a while, I like to make a small crostini of nutella and strawberries for dessert.

I second that refrigeration is overrated for certain food, especially if it has been cooked thoroughly (i.e., some leftovers). However I would advise not to bring deli and dairy items if you don't have a small carry-on fridge bags (even if you do, they taste much better when they are just out of your home refridgerator).

I also make an "office-mix": a small bag of cruchy+bulky type cereal (quaker oatmeal squares, puffins, kashi good friends, etc.), raisins or dried cranberries, and some nuts.

If you have a prep area and crave a salad for lunch, bring whole tomatoes and a few basil leaves to work, slice+salt+pepper and enjoy.

Edited by Jonu
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Hummus with veggie sticks should stay okay on a desktop.

The soup thermos idea sounds like a winner too.

Apples, oranges, other fruits should be good. Cooked polenta that can be renuked. Lentils. Vegetarian options seem like they have less chance of developing ickies, but I don't really have the science to back that up.

Jael

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An even cheaper fridge is available at Sierra Trading. What a shame, you missed the promotional campaign that Office Depot had for teachers last year--we got something like this for free with a $50 OD order.

My daughter's cheap plastic bento sets come from Super-H, which has a small selection of the Zorushi-type bento spectaculars. She has rice balls, home-grown cherry tomatoes, watermelon, and carrots today.

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Are you comfortable with cheese that hasn't been refrigerated? However, my favorite non-fridge lunch is a wrap - I throw grilled veggies (I make a week's worth on Sunday) and a little goat cheese or brie into a flavored tortilla. It is the perfect temperature by lunchtime. (If that doesn't appeal to you, you could always do a straight ahead cheese sandwich.)

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HV:

I've been giving this some thought ever since you posted your question.

I used to take my lunch to elementary school (WAY before you were born; my late father would have said this was "back when Christ was a Corporal" --he was in the Army) and we had no refrigeration, either. My mother would put salad in a Tupperware shallow bowl (like a soup bowl) with a top and kept the dressing (a vinagrette of some sort) separate in another little container. I seem to remember that this worked very well. Also, when I make Pasta Putanesca at this time of year, I eat the leftovers the next day for lunch. There are several non-mayo type pasta salads like this one which benefit from being out of the refrigerator for a few hours. My brother ate sandwiches made with mustard, ketchup and cold cuts for years and years.

Further, I made the food for our wedding myself and was concerned about leaving things at room temperature for a while. I made sandwiches with a salmon filling by taking canned salmon (although nowadays I would cook the fresh stuff) and combining it with sour cream, tarragon, onions, etc. They were just fine. And nobody got sick. :lol: I just made sure I didn't use mayo in anything, although the manufactured stuff is all pasteurized and should be safe regardless by the time you get around to lunch.

Barbara

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I, too, remember the days of packed lunches without refrigeration. Lots of peanutbutter sandwiches, but I also remember bologna & cheese sandwiches. I went through a phase in Junior High (now known as "middle school") of eating bologna on white bread with mayonnaise and yellow mustard every day.

Nowadays, I do use a Cool Tote insulated bag Cool Click with a little blue ice thing, and that works brilliantly.

They make a nice wine bottle tote Cool Wine Click just perfect for taking wine to restaurants in DC that allow it, too!

Edited to say: Sometimes I risk the refrigerators at work, knowing that there's always a chance my lunch will disappear before I get to eat it. :lol:

ScotteeM

Edited by ScotteeM
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My daughter has been taking a short, squat Alladin thermos-type product to school with heated leftovers. I got it at Target a couple of weeks ago. She's thrilled to be taking leftover pastas and chinese food instead of eating cafeteria slop. It easily keeps the food warm until her lunch time....especially since she has to eat at 10:30!

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Another PB&J variation is PB and Banana - put the peanut butter on both slices of bread so the banana slices don't slide around.  It's surprisingly good;  salty and sweet.

When my kid was younger, I used to make PB and Banana for his lunch. but to make it interesting for him, I would slather a Hot Dog Bun with PB and put the banana on it whole. He loved it.

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My kids go to a school that does not have a cafeteria, so I have been dealing with this for more than 10 years. Lunch and snack are required in the lower and middle school every day - including a juice box or some form of drink. We love the LLBean large lunch bag/coolers - my kids call them lard boxes since they hold so much. They are big enough that nothing has to be in the lunchbox sideways, so no major fruit juice leaking from tupperware-type accidents. Many years ago Costco used to sell a different brand that was also very good at keeping things cool, but I do not know if they still do (California something, maybe?). The LL Bean bags will fit a very large thermos (not the tall ones - the wider ones - ours are purple and blue from Target or Ayers Hardware, I think). You have to get a real thermos bottle - lined with glass - to keep things hot or cool. You can also get a good ice pack that will still be cool by noon or one. My kids (one eats sandwiches only with Nutella and one only with home roasted turkey breast) take a lot of chinese, thai and vietnamese food/leftovers layered with rice, as well as pasta, and soup, in the thermos, and also take salads, quesadillas, empanadas. My oldest just started high school and no one has had food poisoning yet!

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