Lunches by Melissa

There are many reasons why I admire my younger sister Melissa. Whenever she enters a room, her infectious laughter immediately brightens the mood. Extremely ambitious and capable, she has succeeded in her dream of working in the fashion business. She is intensely loyal and loving, and has always supported me in every endeavor I’ve pursued.

There’s one more seemingly small but very important reason why I am in awe of Melissa: No matter how busy or tired she is, she makes homemade lunches for herself and her husband Nedim to bring to work every day. Sometimes it’s leftover pasta, sometimes just a simple green salad. She’s also been known to cook a whole second meal after dinner for their lunches, just so she and Nedim don’t have to waste money on food during the workday.

What, you might say? Does packing lunch every day really deserve such admiration and praise? Absolutely, especially on afternoons when I’ve endured another mediocre serving of pad thai or overcooked pasta from a nondescript restaurant near my Midtown Manhattan office. For some reason, I cannot get my act together to bring my lunch to work on a consistent basis. And when I think about the waste of money and unnecessary plastic packaging involved with buying my lunch every day, I feel very upset and guilty about the food I am putting into my body. Plus, whatever I buy rarely tastes very good, and I know that I could make something ten times better at home.

Some weeks are certainly better than others; like Melissa, I’ll pour some extra pasta into the pot when I’m cooking dinner and bring the leftovers to the office the following day. On another night I’ll add an extra half-cup of brown rice to our dinner, transforming the leftovers into a mean and healthy salad. But rarely do I have the energy to make myself a separate meal for the following day’s lunch. That lovely pearl barley salad up there, filled with crunchy apples and electric pomegranate seeds, was an anomaly, a rare instance when I prepared a healthy meal specifically for my lunch. I need a system. Or maybe I just need my sister to make me lunch every day.

So for the second time in a week, I turn to you again, readers. Do you bring your lunch to work? What are your favorite, easy-to-prepare, lunch dishes?

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21 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Aki said,

    I do make lunches almost everyday.
    But very very easy ones.
    Some green salads with some meat, pasta salads, quinoa salads, leftovers, etc.

    Your pearl barley salad looks really good. Maybe I’ll make it next week!

    A lot of Japanese housewives are very enthusiastic about creating lunch boxes for their kids and husbands.

    http://www.e-obento.com/

    http://meotowappa.blog46.fc2.com/

    If you visit kindergarten at lunch time in Japan, almost all the kids have some kind of food shaped like cute bears, flowers, hello kitty and pokemon in their lunch boxes… It’s true!
    Of course, they can be very creative every morning because they are not working…

    My mom, who were working, packed lunch boxes everyday for the whole family when I was a kid. They were less decorative than those in the links above, but something like this.

    http://www.kikkoman.co.jp/homecook/lunch/

    I’m too lazy to be Japanese… ;)

  2. 4

    melissa grillo said,

    too sweet, I love you sis…although i make lunches, there are MANY things that I don’t do that I should be doing..such as making ramp pizza :) xoxo me

  3. 6

    Nedim said,

    ha ha, great post….but sorry you’ll have to get in line Christina. You know Melissa also claims her primary motivation is the health benefits of knowing what’s in the meal you’re eating. She thinks that its a sure fire way to ensure we have as many meals together as possible…who can argue with that. Just one of the many reasons why she’s such an amazing person.

    • 7

      Christina said,

      You know, you shame me, Nedim. The health aspect is really what I should have focused on more in my post, because I totally agree with Meliss. Sometimes it’s hard for me to keep track of my ideas. Regardless, you are a lucky man!

  4. 8

    Nedim said,

    forgot to mention, I’ve got seared tuna on a bed of arugula…what’s in your lunch box???

  5. 9

    Al Muzaurieta said,

    I asked nedim to go to Dogmatic with me today and he told me he had a Melissa lunch – UGH!

  6. 11

    erin said,

    melissa’s lunches rule the school! make ramp pizza for me [pretty] pleaaaase??!

  7. 13

    JKenny said,

    Bringing lunch to the office was an utter failure for me. Knowing that I had food nearby, I was unable to ignore the 10:30 hunger pang. I just ate my lunch at that time. Then I’d have to go out in the late afternoon for another one. No monetary savings and an extra meal consumed to boot. If I didn’t bring lunch to work, I was able to ignore my stomach in the mid morning.

    And per Aki’s comment, check out this Penguin book, recently nominated for some type of “weirdest book title of the year” award.

    http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780399535321,00.html

    • 14

      Christina said,

      Yeah, I start getting hungry around 11:30 all the time, regardless of whether I bring my lunch or not. But your problem sounds like quite the paradox. I love that book you’ve linked to above–I am into the cult of cute, really, i am!

  8. 15

    Lora said,

    My husband and I do pretty much the same thing- packing leftovers is the easiest way. It’s pretty tough anyway to only cook two servings, so that’s my best solution. I also usually do a little extra cooking on the weekend- maybe baking treats, for example, to go in our lunches. Having all sorts of lunch-size tupperware helps, so we can portion it out as we clean up the kitchen after dinner, and just have it ready to grab!! They also make tupperware now with several smaller compartments.. really handy!

    • 16

      Christina said,

      That’s what I need–a better Tupperware collection! I tried to do a little extra cooking this weekend; I made a big batch of lentils and incorporated them into workday salads. I need to do that more often. Thanks for your comment, Lora!

  9. 17

    Nancy said,

    Hi

    I like your website very much, I also have a special Chinese food website, and could we exchange website link each other?
    my website is http://www.chinesefoodfans.com/

    Thanks!

  10. 18

    Elana said,

    I usually take whatever was made the night before for work the next day. Sometimes I will make soups out of leftover roasted veggies and rice with my immersion blender. It is really handy for fast lunch prep and you can get one at a restaurant equipment store. I like the pasta salad idea, and whole grain muffins and homemade granola bars are great for snacks or fast breakfasts.

    Also fake meat wraps (or real meat wraps) are great, lean, and full of protein.

    • 19

      Christina said,

      Hi Elena! I really like your idea regarding soup made from leftovers; that’s a great way to make sure that nothing goes to waste! Thanks for your comment!

  11. 20

    Leftoverless in Seattle said,

    Shameful! You live in a town with abundant BoarsHead delicacies and you bring leftovers!? Oh how I long for a good NY deli sandwich (I still don’t understand why some enterprising NY deli owner doesn’t setup shop in Seattle – the market is wide open).

    Two reasons I make my lunch everyday:

    (1) Saves money: I make the same thing everyday, a boring but cheap sandwich (bread and meat), fruit, veggies and yogurt @~$2/meal. We’re a one income family of four so cost savings is key.

    (2) Saves time: Here in NE Seattle I have to drive someplace to grab food or eat at the less than appealing cafeteria on campus. More time at lunch foraging means a later return home and less time with the family. Or less time at lunch means more time with the family.

    Plus, we usually cook enough for two nights of dinners (another cost and time savings) and leftovers become dinner night #2.

    Keep up the blogging and hope all is well.

  12. 21

    Elia said,

    I try to bring my lunch everyday to work. I use a laptop lunchbox and it helps me organize my lunches and plan for good portions too! I spend less money and am eating healthier which is also helping me lose some weight!! You can check out my lunches on facebook at

    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=12502&id=131878546849508&page=2

    If you want to buy your own laptop lunchbox use the discount code FEEDYOURSISTER and you get 10% off!


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