I started taking night classes and want to be able to take my dinner along with me instead of always buying out. Hard part is I don't have time in between work to go home, the food has to last about 3 hours out of refrigeration, and I'd like to make something more exciting than a sandwich. Any suggestions??

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11 Comments

Anitalectric February 4, 2011
I just read a blog post by another busy cook that going through the same thing. There are recipes, and they are portable! http://www.choosingraw.com/raw-nori-cigars-with-gingery-sunflower-seed-pate/comment-page-1/#comment-53019
 
TheBostonian February 3, 2011
Such good suggestions, thank you all! I hadn't even thought of using a thermos and all the recipes are brilliant.
 
Bevi February 3, 2011
I make a quinoa salad that offers protein and holds up nicely. You can substitute quinoa for just about any pasta salad you make, and use a non dairy vinaigrette. The salad I like to make includes sauteed onions, zucchini and a little garlic, parsley or cilantro, roasted corn if I have some, radishes, shaved fennel - virtually any combination of vegetables. I like to add some raisins or currents that have been soaked in apple cider as well. Toasted almonds or pine nuts add a nice crunch. Here is a not-so-great photo:
Answer image
 
nutcakes February 3, 2011
I make a pasta salad that holds up pretty well. I use penne pasta, finely shredded cabbage, sliced radish, sliced celery, sliced cucumber, tuna, chopped cilantro and chopped toasted walnuts. Just a little basic creamy viniagrette, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper and a little mayo, touch of mustard optional. I can eat quite a lot of that, it's very appetizing to me. It keeps reasonably well for several days. Do invest in a little small soft cooler to pack your stuff in. And can you microwave soup and put it in a thermos before you leave work?

Fried chicken would be a nice treat. It is good cold or at room temperature. So are gratins. Here is a really great eggplant, tomato and feta gratin.
http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/eggplant_tomato_gratin.aspx
 
amreiskitchen February 3, 2011
Try using a nice small cooler and the thermos is also a good tool. I find stainless steel thermos are much better than glass insulated ...and no chance of it being dropped and shattering into your meal. Just be sure to preheat with boiling water or prechill with some ice water for about 5 min. it works in the most extreme weather.
 
pierino February 3, 2011
Compartmentalized Indian style tiffin pails are really cool for packing along two or three separate items. For a great selection go to http://www.happytiffin.com/index.html.
 
RobertaJ February 3, 2011
When I was working I found that many things, saucy pasta and rice dishes especially, did just fine if I left them at room temp. for a few hours. I'd pull them from the fridge when I left for work, and by lunch time they were still at what I'd call cool room temp. Most of them, especially the pasta type things, actually tasted better than they had been when they were hot from the oven. Be careful with things that have cream or milk in them, but tomato-based sauces, or stock-base, even if they have cheese in them, will do just fine.
 
hardlikearmour February 3, 2011
Here are some good options for grain salads as well. Maybe you just need better recipes!
http://www.food52.com/recipes/2364_spicy_black_bean_and_quinoa_salad
http://www.food52.com/recipes/5710_farro_salad_with_roasted_mushrooms_and_parmesan
I'd also think about a heart soup or stew or even mac & cheese in the thermos.
 
latoscana February 2, 2011
I really appreciate your hunger pains - I went back to school several years ago and struggled with late night classes, too. If you can bring one of those squat thermoses (I think they are available in 1 or 2 pints), you can keep things warm or cold for quite a while, which opens up a lot of options.

For anyone who packs lunches or dinners, and anyone who has children, look for the classic children's book, Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell and Lillian Hoban. Frances finally tries something besides bread and jam, leading to an ultimate lunch that is really inspired.
 
TheBostonian February 2, 2011
Those are all great suggestions, thank you. I love salads but for some reason am pretty awful at making pasta/grain salads. The brussel sprout one sounds awesome though and I used to eat a similar dinner of cheese, turkey, grapes and crackers for dinner in college. Might have to bring it back for college round 2!
 
drbabs February 2, 2011
Can you make a meal of salad? Amanda's brussels sprout salad http://www.food52.com/blog/1511_brussels_sprouts_salad_a_la_m_wells
is awesome--I make it all the time and bring it to work, sometimes with a multigrain wrap or some bread or crackers and fruit. It holds up to being dressed ahead of time.You could also bring hummus and cut up vegetables and crackers--just get an insulated bag and put a cold pack in it to keep everything cool. That would work for fruit and cheese-- a good cheddar, a crunchy apple, and some good bread is one of my favorite meals.

If salad works for you, these are both great also:
http://www.food52.com/blog/1555_radish_and_pecan_grain_salad

http://www.food52.com/blog/1605_kale_salad_with_apples_and_hazelnuts
 
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