Saturday, December 28, 2013

Snacks for the train

Broke out my rarely used Planetbox Rover to take my little stepson on his first train ride: chocolate bear paws for him, oatmeal bear paws for his dad, popcorn and trail mix for whomever wants them, and a few mini M&Ms as a treat.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Lunch: Bagel Sandwich

A pumpernickel bagel to toast at work, with rice cheese slices and some garnish, strawberries, and a pretzel/goldfish combo for snack.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lunch: Souped-Up Ramen

Half a pre-cooked ramen brick with lentils and spinach shreds (just add water and half of seasoning packet!) with strawberries for desert; apple slices and chocolate goldfish for snack.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Lunch: Indian Wrap

Indian wrap from the health food store and strawberries for lunch; veggie straws for snack.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Lunch: Leftover Chinese Food

Chinese tofu and steamed rice and apple slices for lunch, with crackers, rice cheese and a tiny package of fruit chews for snack.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Lunch: Spinach Couscous

Couscous with lentils and spinach, goldfish crackers and mango smoothie for lunch, veggie chips for afternoon snack. I love how I can fit a whole day's food in here!

I have been finding my morning smoothie to be a bit much these days, and the tall dipper holds more than it looks like it does, so I am experimenting today with reserving some of it for lunch!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lunch: Frozen Pizza

Leftover frozen pizza, grapes and carrots for lunch; apple slices for snack.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lunch: Hot Noodle Soup

Vegetable soup with noodles, crackers, fruit snacks and half an apple.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Lunch: Split Pea Soup

A somewhat watery store-brand split pea soup, crackers, grapes and veggie straws.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Review: Planetbox Launch

I have a new lunchbox! Check it out:

I have to admit, I waffled a lot on this one. I was not as enthralled with the Planetbox Rover as many people were. I do love the smaller Shuttle version, and use it often. But I wanted a way to pack microwaveable foods since I like soup in the winter. And between lunch, snack and microwaveable dish, I was winding up with too many bits and pieces to wash every day.

I had a paypal credit and treated myself to the Planetbox Launch and so far, I love it! Since it is so big, I can fit all my food for the day in it. So far I have been using the big spot (with glass dish or without) and the smaller side spot for lunch, and the bigger side spot for my snack. In today's lunchbox, I easily fit both cheese and crackers in the side dish spot (you could also use the tall dipper to subdivide that spot to pack two side items) and in the snack spot, my usual small apple and spoonful of sunflower seeds fit nicely.

I love how flexible it is---you can use the glass dish or not, use the tall dipper (which is larger then it seems) or not, to make all sorts of configurations. I can truly fit a whole day's worth of food in one neat package. There was even room inside the sleeve case (barely!) for a snack bag of cereal for breakfast and a spoon for the soup!

I had feared this box would be tough to wash, but it turned out to be easier than I thought. I washed the glass dish first, and then the Launch itself just needed a rinse and a quick polish with a towel to dry it. I did the outside while it was lying flat in the dish drainer, then turned it upright on the counter and did the inside. It really was not a big deal. I was also pleased at how well the box, in its sleeve, fit into my backpack. I gave up my Easy Lunchbox (which has the same three-compartment format) in part because its cooler bag was too bulky to fit in a backpack. The Launch, in comparison, is a treat!

I also want to give props to Planetbox for its attentive customer service. My package arrived minus the ordered magnets, and with a defective hinge which had a sharp edge which kept catching on the bag and could not be fixed. A friendly rep got back to me right away and sent out the magnets along with a replacement box. I did not have to send the broken one back, either! I may take it to a shop and see if it can be fixed for use as a spare.

So, any complaints? Just small ones. Firstly, the carrier bag could use a little more insulation. When I put a loaded box into it, then put it into the outer compartment of my backpack, I could still feel the chill. On the first day, I even opened it up again to make sure nothing was leaking.

Secondly, the box is absolutely massive. That is a strength, because I like that I can truly fit my whole day's worth of food in there. But it weights a ton. If you dropped it on your foot, you could really injure yourself! Also, it takes up a lot of real estate on the table. I would have liked it better if the lid was fully removable (for instance, latches on both sides) rather than fixed permanently. Then it would take up less space while eating, and also be easier to clean.

Finally, the price. I dithered for awhile because it was almost $80 when extras like the case, the glass dish and the shipping were added in. I would not have bit if it weren't for that paypal gift balance I had. In the end, I will use the box every day and it will simplify my lunch packing a lot because I won't need so many containers every day. But, it is a very costly solution.

If you can afford it, this is an exceptional lunchbox though. Now that it's bought, paid for and done, I have no regrets. This will be my new main box!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lunch: Lentil Soup

In my new Planetbox Launch, lentil soup with frozen potato cubes, apple and grape mix and sunflower seeds. Review of the lunchbox coming tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lunch: Pita Pizza

Pita pizza, goldfish and grapes. I am really liking using the dipper to divide the small compartment so I can pack a three-item lunch!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lunch: English Muffin Sandwich

Rice cheese and spinach on an English muffin, goldfish crackers, grapes.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Lunch: Falafel Wraps

Two small falafel wraps, carrots and grapes, packed in a Lunchbots Duo.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lunch: Gluten-Free Sandwich

Experimenting with some new gluten-free  bread today. Peanut butter sandwich, with grapes and strawberries.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Snack: Veggies and Chips

I am supposed to be eating a green vegetable every day, yuck. Anyway, here it is with salsa and veggie sticks.

Lunch: Out and About

I was out for an appointment today and got stranded; picked up these two little containers at the dollar store, then got some veggie sushi and watermelon at the grocery store. Yum!

The little containers are cute enough, and I was delighted to find non-plastic. But the lids are cheap and flimsy so I suspect they won't last long!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lunch: Quinoa Salad

In school today for some summertime IT training! Packed in my Planetbox Shuttle: make-ahead quinoa salad, grapes and lentil chips. I am finding I enjoy dividing up the littler compartment with the dipper  container. I can pack right-sized portions of a fruit and a treat.

The quinoa salad is super-easy. I keep several varieties of canned beans flash-frozen in the freezer, which makes it even easier. Just cook 1 cup of dried quinoa as directed on the package and let it cool. Meanwhile, get four jars and put about 3 spoonfuls of salad dressing in each. When the quinoa has cooled, divide it up, stir and toss in 1/2 cup beans of your choosing. That's it! On eating day, just put some greens in your lunch container, dump on your quinoa salad and go!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lunch: Potato Pastry

Grapes, carrots and a potato pastry from the Jewish bakery. Yum!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Snack: Pretzels & Fruit

Planetbox Shuttle packed for busy afternoon of errands: pretzels, apple slices and peanut butter dip.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lunch: Easy Grain Salad

What I love about this lunch is that you can mix and match it: in this salad, I used  brown rice, chickpeas and Asian dressing tossed with shredded greens, but you could vary the grain, legume, dressing and vegetable. Nectarine on the side. Yum!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lunch: Taco Dippers

A quick, easy and tasty lunch today. Bean dip and rice crackers with half a sliced apple, packed in my Planetbox Shuttle.

Extra: Pantry Tour

I always love seeing bloggers post these! I am proud of my pantry/dining room because I was inspired by a photo on a decorating blog, and I actually managed to copy it pretty well! The only difference was the original pic was not in the kitchen, and it had a desk in between the bookcases, instead of a freezer,

Anyway, here it is:

I like the symmetry of the whole arrangement a lot: the books across both sides, then the rows of mason jars, then the big containers, then the odds and ends. Here are some close-ups. First, the mason jars with seeds, raisins and other small bulk goods:

Here are some larger bulk goods, and then my lunch containers: Easy Lunchboxes for the boy, my Lunchbots, glass ones and thermoses underneath for hot things, Planetbox Rover on its side and Shuttle underneath, and the shelf organizer with snack and dip containers.

That's actually all of my lunch stuff, believe it or not! I have two laptop Lunchboxes in storage elsewhere because I don't really use them but am saving them for a rainy day, and a drawer in the kitchen with sandwich cutters and a few odds and ends. But that's it! 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Lunch: Simple Sticky Rice

I still feel delicate, so I am taking it easy. Leftover steamed rice mixed with a few edamame for protein, grapes and a few chocolate fishies for a treat. Still using up a few things before I go soy and wheat free for awhile...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lunch: Tummy Trouble

Ate something yesterday that didn't agree with me...following a painful morning, I am trying to get some fluids and very gentle solid foods back into my system. In the Planetbox Shuttle, I have:

- A grilled cheese sandwich (with one slice of rice cheese and white bread!) cut into manageable portion size for my current delicate state with a cutesy sandwich cutter that's supposed to be for the nieces and nephews

- A few lentil chips for protein, and a tiny portion of comfort food chocolate pudding. This is my first time using the Shuttle's tall dipper and I was surprised at how much it held---just over half a pudding snack cup!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Experiment: Stainless Steel Palooza!

I sometimes like to pack wetter things in my lunchbox---oatmeal, fruit salad, soup etc. I have been trying to both go plastic-free and to minimize the quantity of containers I carry on a day to day basis, so I had a look today at everything I have so far to see what my options were. I started with:

From left to right, here is my Planetbox Rover, my Lunchbots Uno and my Planetbox Shuttle. In front, I have the Planetbox Big Dipper, the Ecolunchbox Pod and small dip containers from Lunchbots and Planetbox.

Experiment 1: Ecolunchbox Pod

It fit, with lid on, in the Lunchbot and Shuttle. It rattled around a little when I shook the closed containers, but if you had other food in there, it wouldn't shift. It did fit in the Rover's big spot as well, but with the lid on, it was slightly too high. You could use it as a divider with the lid off though.

What would these configurations lend themselves to? My first thought was yogurt. There is plenty of room in the Lunchbot for fruit to go with it. In the Shuttle, you could put fruit in the side compartment and toss some granola in beside the yogurt pod.

Experiment 2: Planetbox Big Dipper

It fit in all of them! A little snugly in both of the Planetboxes, and with room to spare in the Lunchbot:

Although the Lunchbot does have that extra room, the side compartments on the Planetboxes give you more options. I'd happily use this in the shuttle for something like taco dip or sloppy joe filling. You could use the side compartment for chips or crackers to dip, or put fruit in it and pack the crackers in a snack bag (I did experiment with putting them on top, since there appeared to be room up there, but it was awkward and didn't quite work out).

Experiment 3: The Dippers

This one was easy: other than the taller one, which only fit in the shuttle, they all fit in all the boxes.

So where does this leave me? Well, since I am not doing sandwiches anymore, it opens me up for taco dip, hummus and other dip plus rice cracker combos. And it strengthens the Shuttle's place as my new favorite lunchbox! I can fit a whole meal in there and pop it into the sleek little case or if I need snacks, use it in one of my other carry bags.

For sheer versatility, the Lunchbots offer more options for certain things. I think that between them and the Shuttle, I truly can ditch the plastic.

So, when will Planetbox come out with a glass insert that fits in the Shuttle for microwaving?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Gear Review: Planetbox Shuttle

I am so excited to have a new box! I really love my now-usual Lunchbots but I find that sometimes I want something with a little bit more leak-proofing between compartments. It's hard to pack a wet thing in one half of a Lunchbot and a dry thing in the other unless you use silicone cups or somesuch, which is just more to wash. So I splurged on the new two-compartment Planetbox Shuttle.

It was with some trepidation, too---their Rover model was my big, expensive (very expensive!) lunch gear regret. I felt awful because it seemed every bento blogger in the world loooooved the Planetbox, and there it sits on my shelf, looking pretty, taking up space and never getting used! It's just so cumbersome to pack and wash and use. There are too many compartments, and they aren't quite the right size for me. The big one doesn't really fit a sandwich, the dipper doesn't really hold enough for a soup or salad, and it just never seemed to come together for me. And since the lid doesn't come off, it takes up so much room on the table. I was sorry I bought it, but shipping (both for them to send it, which doesn't get refunded, and for me to mail it back) would have equaled the cost of the lunchbox, so I've kept it hoping for the day it would click for me...

...and then I fell in love with the Shuttle! It's perfect---it's slightly higher than the rover, so two sandwich halves would fit in the big compartment, and the side compartment is big enough to fit a whole cut apple (as I did below) or a smaller fruit portion and something else! I got the model which came with the big dipper (not pictured) and carry case. I am thrilled with it!

I love how self-contained everything was. Nothing leaked between compartments! And it's a flexible system. I found several containers---with lids, even!---which would fit in the big compartment, including my stainless steel ecolunchbox pods. The one downside for me was that the sleek little carry bag didn't have space for any extras like drinks or snacks. But the box did fit in several other carry bags I have so I am not worried. In the summer, I tend to buy snacks on the go (coffee shops won't let you work there unless you buy something!) and during the school year, I can just use another bag (or stick a snack container in the water bottle pocket on my backpack). And it's much smaller than the Rover, so easier to wash, even with the lid to deal with.

In summary---if it's just lunch I am taking and I don't need a full kit, this is my new go-to box. I may even order a second one for the boyfriend, who never packs snacks and only likes one side item to go with his peanut butter sandwich. Now, if only Planetbox would trade in my unused Rover for the second Shuttle so I don't have to pay again...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lunch: Vegan Lunchable

Doctor says I have to cut back on the wheat and soy, so I will be experimenting with some new lunches. In my Lunchbots Quad, I have a 'lunchable' style feast of brown rice crackers, hummus, grapes and trail mix.

I like hummus better than I thought I did, and feel good about this healthy, portable  and protein-packed feast! I was also delighted to find that my Easy Lunchbox dippers fit perfectly in the Quad. I do try and use less plastic, but sometimes you need a more leakproof seal, and they are somewhat bigger than the metal Lunchbots dips...

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Snacks for the Road

Out of town this weekend! For the road, I packed graham crackers, Goldfish and pretzels in a Lunchbots trio.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Snack: On the Go Munchies

In the Lunchbots dip, some sunflower seeds. In the Ecolunchbox, some cherries. Packed for an afternoon of errands and appointments---I am on summer break at last!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lunch: Fried Rice

An instant fried veggie rice bowl, half a sliced apple and a few chocolate fishies.

Snack: Fruit to Go

Using the Lunchbots Quad today, to pack sides and snacks for the last day of school. Half an apple, sunflower seeds and a few cherries.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lunch: Chinese Leftovers

My sweetie is still recovering from a bug, so it was Noodle Night at home this week, with some massively over-priced but tasty Chinese takeout. In the lunch for tomorrow's last day of school: sticky tofu with a little rice underneath and some veggie dumplings on the side. I'll probably pack some fruit in the morning to go with this.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lunch: Miso Soup

We've been getting some instant noodle bowls at the health food store, and this new-to-me flavor (Miso Soup) seemed like just the thing on a cold, rainy day. It was ready in about 2 minutes, it was hot and filling and tasted okay, but I felt itchy about 15 minutes later, which is usually a sign I have passed my threshold for corn by-products. I will stick with the teriyaki flavor next time!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Gear Review: Eco Lunchboxes

The Ecolunchbox 3-in-1 was on my covet list ever since I tried their lunchpod snack cups, but I was put off by their high shipping. So, imagine my delight when I saw this baby retail! I was anxious to try it out; I am still looking for the perfect container to woo me away from plastic, and I have not found any to rival my Easy Lunchbox for versatility in use and ease in clean-up.

And...I still am looking. I really hoped this would work for me, but alas, it is just a hare too small. The lunchbox has an ingenious design, with two layers---a bottom layer for sandwiches and main items, and a top layer for sides which is slightly deeper and can fit the lunchpods side dish container for sub-dividing. Great idea in theory. In practice...

Firstly, as you can see, the sandwich didn't quite fit in the bottom compartment. I had to put it in a wrap mat, which is fine but doesn't exactly get me away from plastic! So then I thought I would use the bottom compartment for my afternoon snack. I cut up half an apple, which was fine, and then put my lunchbots dip container in. The dipper, with lid, seemed to fit fine but turned out to be slightly too high when I tried to close up the lunchbox. I was able to use it if I left the lid off, which is fine because I pack my lunches in a bag where they stay upright.

The top container was great for snacks and sides. The side pod fit with the lid or without, and the container was nicely compact and sturdy. I have read in a few reviews that many people use the top container separately as its own item, and that is probably how I will use it. The pod fits perfectly and this might become my go-to snack container for my afternoon snack, where I like to pack two things, a fruit and a crunchy item.

So...I did get a new snack container out of it. But I didn't get the complete stainless steel lunch system I was hoping for. I'll have more to wash tonight than I would with my two-piece Easy Lunchbox, and I wish that sandwich had fit in the box as advertised.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Lunch: Apple-Cheddar Salad

This was inspired by a great salad I saw at a cafe called 'Apple-Cheddar Salad.' It sounded so good! Alas I did not have any cheddar so I used soy veggie shreds, and I added some leftover couscous and a handful of edamame for heft. Other than those small changes, it's fancy salad, cafe style!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lunch: Rice Noodle Salad

I was playing with a new vegetable slicer and got carried away! Rice noodles mixed with cucumber ribbons, carrots & edamame is the main dish. Sliced apples and chocolate goldfish on the side.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Gear Review: Ecolunchbox Pods

I picked up these 'lunch pods' because I had been finding my Lunchbots a little big for just snack stuff and was looking for a plastic-free alternative to my well-used Sistema containers, which have become a little TOO well-used and are starting to feel a little grubby and gross. These stainless steel 'pods' from Ecolunchboxes started out as part of their 3-in-1 container and are, by popular request, now available separately.

I was attracted to this product because I like stainless steel stuff and I was looking forward to having a small little extra I could tuck into a lunch bag if I just wanted to pack a little something extra. I liked the portion control of the 1/2 cup serving size, and I liked that this could be a modular component to a bigger lunch system (I did investigate just buying the 3-in-1 kit but Reuseit doesn't have it yet and shipping off the ecolunchbox site costs more than the lunchbox does!)

So, what did I like about these containers?

1) They are gorgeous. I just love the way stainless steel looks, and it really does set off the colours of the food and make it more attractive to look at and eat.

2) The portion size is perfect. In a larger container, I do tend to over-serve sometimes. I really do like that I ca easily pack a proper portion, and toss it into a bag without having a big, clunky thing to wash.

3) Held up well to hand-washing so far. This is the big issue with plastic for me, even safe plastic feels fine at first but then reaches a point where it feels like it can't really get clean anymore.

4) Works well with my other containers. It fit into my Laptop Lunchbox, Easy Lunchbox and Lunchbots even with the lid on, and fit into my Planetbox without the lid, as a divider.

5) The lid fit perfectly. They mentioned on their website that it is not water-tight, but I felt it was plenty snug enough for carrots, grapes, dry snacks and so on. I would have no problems tossing it in a bag.

What didn't I like?

1) The bottom was rounded, not flat. This meant it did not lie perfectly inside my other containers (although height-wise, it fit) and it meant they could not stack neatly on a kitchen shelf.

2) The barcode sticker on the bottom was extremely well-affixed and was very difficult to remove. I messed up the first one, left the second one on and will have to go at it with goo-gone later.

3) I do feel their website shipping is extremely unreasonable. I got the two lunchpods from Reuseit and paid $4.50 for shipping, but they don't carry all the ecolunchbox products.

4) I would love to see a divided container like the Sistema one, but in stainless steel. I really do prefer two-part snacks, so packing two of these instead of one of those will give me more to wash.

So, my final verdict? This meets my needs for a stainless steel snack container and I am pretty happy with it. Leaving aside the shipping issue which prevented me from trying the more complete 3-in-1 system, I do think the lunchpod is a well-made option for what it is. I like the durable and healthier stainless steel and look forward to using these for years. I do wish they could tweak it to make the bottom flat though. I hate that I can't stack these neatly without them toppling over, and I think that this design flaw will force me to stop at two and not buy others, because they are just so fiddly to store.

Overall, I would give these a 3.5/5 and recommend them---with the caveat that you comparison-shop on shipping, and have ample space to store them.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Lunch: Couscous Salad

Salad with leftover couscous, edamame and carrots plus half a plum and a strawberry cookie on the side.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Lunch: Potato Knishes

Wanted some comfort food today :-) Potato Knishes from a local bakery, fruit chews and grapes.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lunch: Croissant & Fruit

Went grocery shopping yesterday, so my lunch today includes a treat: a croissant topped with soy cheese, an in-season plum and ye olde standbye, grapes.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Snack: Fruit of the Season

Snack box packed for a long staff meeting! Plum from the fruit market, and a handful of whole grain crackers.