beating the lunch boxIf you’re anything like me, packing a healthy, flavorful lunch day after day is a surprisingly difficult task.  So I was pretty excited when I found Beating the Lunch Box Blues: Fresh Ideas for Lunches on the Go! by J.M. Hirsch.  Utilizing a combination of leftovers and fresh ingredients, Beating the Lunch Box Blues was created not only to provide recipes, but to give inspiration.

This book gives very simple, practical advice. As I perused the pages, I had a lot of a-ha moments. Why had I never thought that I should cook a little extra couscous to save for lunch that week?  Why did I bring leftovers exactly as they had been cooked the night before?  Why couldn’t I bring the leftover chicken from dinner as part of a salad for lunch? (I’m clearly not a creative lunch maker.)  And why do I never plan lunches, but just toss them together as I’m running out the door?

Hirsch’s recipes focus on creating variety in your meals and planning ahead.  This will save time in the end and might prevent you from buying that bag of chips from the vending machine. If you’re looking for additional ideas check out Hirsch’s blog: www.lunchboxblues.com or these other lunch box cookbooks from DPL: Best Lunch Box Ever by Kate Sullivan Morford and Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer McCann.

I’m convinced George Motz’s cross country quest to find the best burgers in America in his book/documentary Hamburger America makes him quite possibly one of the greatest human beings ever to eventually get a stern lecture from a physician.

In the film, all the focused-upon restaurants have been in business for a minimum of forty years.  You’ll find consistencies across that resonate with even the most ardent of sprout munchers.  The burger is obviously the star, but the supporting actors steal the show for me, i.e. the 50s-era neon signs, polished chrome stools, and the American Gothic-esque couples standing proudly in front of their mom and pop lunch counters where the size is “one” and the portion is whatever granny pats out.

These are truly the heartiest scrub-tree rugged organizations in their ability to eke out a living and a superior product in the flattened American fast food landscape.

You’ll see the regionally familiar Billy Goat Tavern (Chicago) and Hamburger Inn #2 (Iowa City) and wonder if there will ever come an occasion to visit places like Stella’s Hamburgers in Bellevue, Nebraska.

It’s a brutal book to skim at 11:30am.

You can save an absurd amount of money by bringing in your own lunch – either to work or school.

Some folks report saving $60 per week, which translates to $240 per month.

Other advantages:  It’s healthier, since you’re controlling the nutritional value.  Unless, of course, you like deep frying at home.

Faster, since there’s no drive time or anyone you have to worry about tipping

As a person who tends to pack things the general populace wouldn’t consume, a brown bag is the only option for choice.

Don’t forget the added benefit of brown bagging it — you have the remainder of your lunch hour to sleep off your own crafted super-sized portions.