Monday, March 19, 2007

Now THAT'S a Lunch Box!

Although I dearly love the kid-friendly Laptop Lunch System I use for shmoo, I still like to keep my eye out for larger, plastic-free lunch boxes that fit us big people and our big, plant-based appetites. Yes, sometimes even my To Go Ware doesn't hold enough salad to satisfy my veggie-lovin' tummy. It's time to Super Size It!

My latest is this 3-tier Food Carrier. It stands about 10 inches high including the handle, which means I can fit it into my insulated cooler for longer trips. With three containers I should be able to pack a nice variety of foods or a set of matching snacks for the three of us. (And hey, if that's still not big enough for you, how about this 4-tier version?)

For its maiden voyage I packed my new food carrier with a hearty lunch for two for shmoo and his Dad, who took off together on a day-long Field Trip of Science. Two white bean hummus and grated carrot sandwiches are packed in the first tier alongside a few radishes. I jammed as many fresh tangerine segments as I could into the second container (shmoo has been known to eat that many all by himself, so I hope he remembers to share!) In the bottom tier are tortilla chips and salsa and a few "seedy fudge balls" made from ground sesame, sunflower, and flax seeds mashed together with tahini, cashew butter, dates, raisins, and a splash of tangerine juice. I rolled them in cocoa so they look like little truffles.

Verdict: Shmoo is quite taken with these stainless steel containers, and is getting old enough to take them apart and put them together by himself. But is he old enough to carry one to school without swinging and denting it, and possibly someone's head in the process? I don't think so. He's sticking with the plastic lunch box.

Shmoo enjoyed the fruit and the fudge balls and ate all but the crusts of his sandwich. My husband took one small bite of his sandwich and ate all the chips and salsa. Guess who's the picky eater in this family? 4 stars.

29 comments:

Mary said...

I'll take your husband's sandwich then!

Hummus and carrots, what's not to love?

Michelle said...

Very nice. I had been looking at the To-Go-Ware and this 3-tier one for several months. My one question, was how do you keep your foods cool? I see that you put yours in an insulated carrier. I really didn't think they would fit. Thanks for the tip. I may end up buying one of these. Lunch looks filling. :)

Kate said...

Yes, it does take a lot of volume to fill an adult up with healthy plant food! : )

Could you post the recipe for the fudge balls?

dyfferent said...

I bought an insulated tiffin off ebay (I searched for tiffin and picked a snazzy red tartan number; mine is from England but you can get them direct from India). The metal part is just the same, but it goes into a plastic thing like the outside of a thermos with a screw-on lid. It would certainly help prevent bashing and dinging of the metal and it probably helps maintain temperature too.

Jennifershmoo said...

Yes, there are a lot of great insulated tiffins from India and Asia if you search the web and ebay. Here's are links to a couple examples:

http://cgi.ebay.com/3-Tier-Steel-Insulated-Tiffin-Lunch-Box-Carrier-Box_W0QQitemZ120097236557QQcategoryZ101428QQcmdZViewItem

http://www.asian-group.com/thermoware_tiffin.htm

Amazon sells Mr. and Mrs. Bento containers; they are insulated but the bowls are plastic:

http://www.amazon.com/Zojirushi-Bento-Stainless-Steel-lined-Silver/dp/B000246GSE

Jennifershmoo said...

>>My one question, was how do you keep your foods cool? I see that you put yours in an insulated carrier. I really didn't think they would fit.

Well, you should measure first to make sure. I measured the inside of my cooler and found that the 3-tier model would just fit with the handle in place.

For short trips I tend not to worry too much, but in the summer and for longer trips I plan to use the cooler. Of course if just you're traveling to work it will probably be fine until you can get it into the work fridge.

NiteMer said...

thanks for posting. my sister doesn't use plastic.

Scorps1027 said...

hey, that's a tiffin carrier! my parents used to take their school lunches in this during their childhood in india:)

Alexis said...

How does the size of your container compare to a Mr. Bento? That's what I use but I'd like to have a non-plastic one as well.

Do you ever notice a metallic taste from the metal, the way things can start tasting "plasticy" if they're in plastic for too long?

Jennifershmoo said...

>>How does the size of your container compare to a Mr. Bento?

I've never seen a Mr. Bento in person, but from the pictures and dimensions listed on the website it appears to be smaller.

>>Do you ever notice a metallic taste from the metal

No, I've never noticed any kind of metallic taste from any of dishes I've packed in it, which include bean dips, veggies, fruits, etc.

kc said...

Hi,
Amazing blog posts! They really look good and perfectly done for a food box. More Power!

Roxy said...

I love the sound of those seed balls. I've been experimenting with simmilar fruit-and-nut sweet treats.

The white bean hummus sandwiches sound wonderful. Now I know what I'm getting next time I go grocery shopping!

I know exactly what you mean about needing a larger container for lunch--last weekend my sister and I were shopping at Pier 1 and I saw a HUGE wooden salad serving bowl. I joked that I should buy it to eat my daily salad out of!

Twisted Cinderella said...

They look wonderful! Prince Charming would love that for his lunches!

tugboatcaptain said...

I've got one almost exactly the same and love it, I only wish it was prettier to look at on the outside.

Gigi said...

Sorry if this is redundant- I haven't checked back through your archives- but have you seen the Flickr group called Mr. Bento Porn? (odd name but just pictures of people's Mr. Bento's lunches.) I found it through Ariel, as she makes lunch for her (vegetarian) self and her (vegan) husband and photographs it.
http://www.flickr.com/groups/mrbento/pool/

crafty chica said...

oh this is is a turkish style lunchbox we call sefertasi (translates as travel bowl) !!!

Allen of EOL said...

I wish I had someone packing me such nice lunches! The 3-tier system looks so nice, this might finally get me to pack my own lunch (and with healthier foods that I normally eat).

Thanks for sharing this :-)

AkaRound Peg said...

Hey thats exactly what I use for my little 'shmoo', I first got the 2 tier option and a little later snapped up the 3 tier version.It fits in nicely with my distaste for plastic.

Uncooked Hipster said...

I read about your book in VegNews, and immediately went to your blogspot. I graduated high school in 2006, and was vegan for two of my four years in high school. My lunches were usually leftover wokked veggies and rice, which are delicious, but leave very little to the imagination.

I love what you are doing, and enjoy every post, even though I'm doing that raw food thing now. I think the way you utilize every traditional method of cooking, paired with the unlimited ways to "veganize" food, touched with the playful asthetics you have to include in a child's life is making lots of people reconsider veganism.
You made my week!
-Lucy

Speedwell said...

That Mr. Bento is FIFTY DOLLARS? No way.

Here is a vacuum 3-container bento set that includes the drink flask and utensil set. I have one and it is great, even if the drink container is a bit on the small side (it's actually perfect for a cup of hot coffee or tea). Less than 19 dollars: http://www.candrelite.com/search/?search=KTHERMFC

Malar Gandhi said...

Hai There,
I always wondered....how you work in your kitchen. All the snaps looks terrific here. Great work. Will visit again.

Situ said...

I used your lunch as inspiration and made myself an eggplant hummus, grated carrot, smoked paprika sandwich with teriyaki tofu fingers on the side. yum! thanks for the great lunch ideas. Everyday I have to pack my own lunch to take to work. and your clever and creative choices have helped me a lot!

Iris said...

I ordered the To Go Ware in January 2007 -- and the money came out of my Paypal account at the time of order. But I haven't received the product yet and it's been 4 months. I followed up via email -- no response.

I wanted you to know this because I ordered it after seeing it on your blog. I thought it was a great idea.

It might be a problem that I live in Canada. But in that case, they should say on their web site that they don't ship to Canada AND they should give me my money back.

I'm on a very low income and I really can't afford to lose this money. I noticed you are still linking to the company on your blog so I wanted you to know about the problem I'm having with them.

The Empress said...

I have one of those in bright green plastic! It's dishwasher safe and has a divider thingy in one section. I bought it for my hubby because you can't nuke a metal one. The plastic one had a rubber (?) seal on each lid so that when you compress them together to latch the handle thingy, it made it slosh proof. I bought it when we went back home to Indonesia a few years back. Set me back less than $2USD. Gotta love it!

Jay said...

In Thailand, co-workers would sometimes place two of the three tiers of the tiffin tin over a small pot of boiling water to heat the contents of their lunch. The third tier might be empty or contain food that they didn't want to heat.

Valena said...

I just love that 3-tier food carrier. It looks like it would be just perfect for me. The 4-tier would be great for when I have to pack for lunch and dinner (work and night classes). Thanks for the great idea.

JDC said...

I LOVE my (To-Go Ware) tiffin! (Thanks for telling everyone about them, Jennifer.)

I'm a dedicated recycler and try very hard NOT to buy new plastic-ware, so I especially love that it is stainless-steel! I use stainless steel condiment cups in mine, too. :-)

For Iris, who's having trouble getting hers, you can also get them at www.greenfeet.com (which ships to Canada & internationally).

Jayashree said...

We call that a Tiffin Carrier in India. That's what I used to take my lunch in for a long time, in fact everyone in India used to take lunches in those. With the Western influence this has become out of fashion and people take just one compartment boxes. There are also 5 or 6 or 7 tiffin carriers.

red said...

thank you



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