My love Patrick, after a few years of working at home, got called back to work in the office a few weeks ago. He immediately started blowing our budget (and his waistline) buying lunches at the surrounding Golden Hill eateries. The Frenchie pie at Pizzeria Luigi — ham, pear, caramelized onions, blue cheese, $23.25 — has been a favorite. So has the massaman chicken curry at 55 Thai, $8.00. But they’ve caused noticeable decrease in our bank account, and increase in my man’s mid-section.
“I need to get my beach bod back,” he sighed, “since summer is just around the corner. Can you make some inquiries and compile a list of healthy lunches for your man?”
I wanted his beach bod back, too, so I got right on it.
“Trader Joe’s is your friend in this,” said Regina. “They have delicious personal salads. We like the Southwest Salad with black beans, red peppers, corn, it has a nice tang to it ($3.49 for 9 ounces) or their Cobb Salad ($4.49 for 9.5 ounces.) My husband enjoys their Fig & Olive Crisps ($3.99 for 5.3 ounces) along with their Chevre Honey Goat cheese; it’s a tasty combo ($3.79 for 8 ounces). Sometimes my man has a hankering for something warm. Lentils take only a few minutes in the microwave,” she added. (Steamed Lentils, $3.29 for 17.6 ounces.) “Or I go with Indian Madras Lentils from Costco, which my hubby enjoys ($11.69 for eight 10-ounce packets).”
“I like these insulated lunchbags called Lifewit Bento Bag,” she added “They are a nice tall size, almost 10 inches, so you can pack quite a few food containers in it. They are waterproof, easy to clean and come in a nice manly gray.” ($21.99 on Amazon for the Lifewit Insulated Bento Bag.)
“I like to make a frittata for the week,” offered Bernice over lunch at Lofty Coffee, eating their fig-gruyere croissant. “Frittata is basically a crustless quiche or egg pie, which I fill with meat and veggies.”
I pried further for some cooking details.
“I take my cast-iron skillet, fry up some bacon and throw in leftover veggies from the week. Then I add a little roasted sweet potato or sun-dried tomato, salt and red pepper flakes, and about 10-12 beaten eggs. Sometimes I add some Parmesan cheese if I have it in the fridge. Then I put the skillet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Once cooled, I slice it up. I pack this for my husband with a little fresh salsa on the side and he loves it. It’s full of protein and it doesn’t give him the after-lunch nappies.”
Kathleen’s hubby is the chef in their home. “My husband has always made our lunches, home-cooked,” said Kathleen. He caught a fish, made stock, added rice and veggies, and of late he sends that light fish soup with me to work. I do 12-hour shifts so I eat a light lunch but by 3:00 pm I need to eat again, so I also bring cheese and apples, and sometimes berries with me for the mid-afternoon snack.”
“Sub sandwiches from Walmart are tasty and affordable,” replied Lorraine ($3.98 for Marketside Italian Hero Sub; $3.98 for Marketside New York Deli).
“Lunch meat and cheese on sandwich thins are also good,” she continued. “Apple slices, bananas, trail mix, string cheese and good old PB and J or PB and banana sandwiches.”
“For healthy lunches,” replied Sarah, “I pack brown rice cakes ($2.99 for 8.5 ounces of Brown Rice Organic cakes at Trader Joe's). “They go well with a little almond butter (Kirkland Creamy Almond Butter, $7.39 for 27 ounces at Costco). Also, the individual cups of guacamole from Costco, Wholly Guacamole Minis, ($13.89 for twenty 2-ounce cups) with Multigrain Tortilla chips is a quick snack ($5.99 for 24 ounces at Costco). I often also send apples, turkey slices, cheese, and sometimes carrots with him. It seems to fill my husband up and not give him that afternoon low that sometimes a high-carb lunch can do.”
“The best thing we did,” answered Meg, “was buy my husband a fridge for his office, so now he buys what he wants, stocks his office fridge, and no more kids eating Dad’s lunches. He usually brings a ham sandwich with a pickle on the side, plus cottage cheese and almonds for extra protein.”