Gimme your cool brown bag lunch tool ideas!
December 12, 2014 8:41 PM   Subscribe

My wife is a nurse and she works long shifts and packs her lunch. She loves cool kitchen food gadgets. Does anyone have any suggestions?

She works 12 hour shifts so she needs food for that length of time. I'm thinking a lunch box that is just really neat--has all sorts of compartments and stuff. She likes snacks too. Any suggestions?
posted by MisantropicPainforest to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Can't recommend Laptop Lunches bento system enough. The first compartmentalized lunchbox I've used where nothing spills ever, no matter how it's handled. Learned about it on AskMe! Makes packing any leftovers or "real, complicated dishes" a snap.
posted by ifjuly at 8:45 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

only caveat is that the space is limited, so for a shift that long she might want to build a LL bento system with an outer sleeve/bag that can house other snacks too.
posted by ifjuly at 8:47 PM on December 12, 2014

I've recently realized that with just a few condiments handy, I can really quickly make a deviled egg from scratch if I have a hard-boiled egg handy. They probably aren't too difficult to make ahead of time in batches and bring with your brown bag either. A friend who had tried out a variety of mass hard-boiled-egg-making gadgets over the years assured me that the Toastmaster brand Egg Head™ Egg Cooker is the way to go, I got hold of one and have found it to be quick, easy to use, and easy to clean.

There's also this thing which is designed to cook a scrambled egg into a cylinder the size and shape of a roll of quarters. Probably wouldn't buy one for myself sight-unseen but I was intrigued enough to put it on my Christmas list, because scrambled eggs on a stick seem like they'd be neat and because I assume it'd be useful for making egg tamago for sushi, and I make sushi all the time and tamago sushi is the sort you'd want to brown-bag.
posted by XMLicious at 9:18 PM on December 12, 2014

Best answer: Get for her the Mr Bento lunch jar system. Plenty of room for two meals or a big meal and a snack, lots of compartments that you can keep at different temperatures, easy to clean and replacement parts are surprisingly cheap from Zojirushi. Also on their website are lots of yummy suggested recipes that have passed the test of time and busy Japanese home cooks, as well as a whole flickr fangroup full of people's lunches for your wife (or you!) to get ideas for things that will fit perfectly.
posted by Mizu at 9:23 PM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

I love and use this little lunch warmer crock pot 2-3 days a week. As suggested by so many others in the comments at the link, I just leave the heating unit at work and tote the inside canister back and forth. If there is an available outlet she can use at work, I highly recommend it for a warm lunch option.
posted by ainsley at 10:42 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hard-boiled egg molds might be fun.
posted by carrienation at 10:54 PM on December 12, 2014

Seconding a Mr. Bento lunch box. I got one last year and it's made packing lunches so easy and fun. It even comes with its own titanium spork!
posted by spinifex23 at 11:28 PM on December 12, 2014

Magic cook uses a chemical heat packet to steam food. You can put ice in it to keep the food cool until you're ready to cook it.
posted by Sophont at 11:48 PM on December 12, 2014

This Stay Fit Deluxe Salad Kit was one of the best purchases I've made in recent times. It is so great - you put the salad in the main compartment and the salad dressing and add-ins in the top section, which also keeps the whole thing cool enough that you don't need to put the whole thing in the refrigerator when you get to work. I'm not really a salad person and this has gotten me eating greens every day with pleasure.
posted by belau at 6:20 AM on December 13, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks so much! I just bought the Bento Box system! Does anyone have any recommendations for (not exclusively japanese) cookbooks for lunches that can use the bento box?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:36 AM on December 13, 2014

Beating the Lunch Box Blues (and associated blog). The author's an AP food editor who makes lunch for his son every day. The book isn't really a step-by-step, more a compendium of ideas, along with 30 recipes that leave enough leftover for 2 lunches, and he repurposes those leftovers into 2 different lunches.

The rest of my recommendations are all Japanese or Japanese-inspired, and pasted from an email to a friend who was asking for bento recommendations recently:
The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches to Go by Makikoh Itoh. Also has a blog you can check to see if you like her recipes. She's had health problems recently so the more recent blog entries don't have to do with bentos she's made, but the Recipes tag will get you to recipes.

Bento Boxes: Japanese Meals on the Go by Naomi Kijima. It's a translation of a Japanese cookbook which is aimed at making lunches for adults. Most of the recipes are for one serving so you'll have to math to size them up.

Bento Love: Easy Japanese Cooking by Kentaro Kobayashi. He has a general trend to the more simple recipes. One-serving recipes.

Ten-Minute Bento by Megumi Fuji. Ten minutes if you're really used to making the recipes (and if you cook your rice ahead of time in a rice cooker!), but they're all pretty simple. One-serving recipes.

And my most recent acquisition: Effortless Bento: 300 Box Lunch Recipes, edited by SHUFUNOTOMO. A translation of a Japanese cookbook aimed at making bento as easy as possible. Lots of recipes that can be frozen or refrigerated for a while, tips for storage and lunch packing, ideas for putting them into bentos.
posted by telophase at 12:21 PM on December 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

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