Who says “It’s not hip to bring lunch?” Mark Bittman has a firm grasp of the unspoken recognition that it’s somehow not cool to brown-bag lunch in his article entitled Bring Your Lunch to Work.
This is a story about everything from brown bags to “groovy REI lunch boxes” [I’ll admit to not knowing such a thing exists.] to “recycled takeout containers.” He even walks us through how to “assemble a lunch at work: a well-seasoned pot of beans, basic tomato sauce and roasted vegetables.”
OK, I have these things on hand, and I acknowledge that not everyone does. Mark calls them “building blocks.” Turns out, he does what I do on the weekends… puts things together when he’s doing something else… roasts the vegetables, roasts a chicken, turns very ripe or plum tomatoes into sauce, etc. (He even gives us sauce options.)
Mark: “This is, of course, a strategy built on cooking: you can’t have leftovers or a container of roasted vegetables unless you cook.” I make the assumption that everyone who reads his blog (perhaps, not mine) cooks. I feel the minimum entrance requirement for my reading his blog is that I cook.
Mark takes the simple nature of what I do without thinking, to new levels and depths. He even suggests that “as it becomes more ritualized, the process becomes both more pleasurable (you could have a favorite bowl at work to make it even more so, and real silverware and napkins) and more rewarding.”
Mark suggests developing a different awareness about the meals we cook at home: “Planned leftovers, as opposed to random ones, can make a huge difference. What you can do with a few pieces of cooked chicken or steak, a couple of fish fillets, even a pile of cooked vegetables is nothing short of creating another meal. And there is almost nothing that won’t sleep soundly in the refrigerator, with little or no loss in quality, from any given Sunday until the following Friday.”
These strategies are more ways to focus on food quality and creativity at home, and the consequent benefit in higher quality/lower cost lunches. Nothing but benefit for very little effort.
So, take courage in hand. Do a little upstream swimming against the tide of repetitive cuisine. Mark’s advice: “Monotony becomes a thing of the past, as does the dread of figuring out where and what to eat: You have taken control. Let the others laugh.”