Have dabba/tiffin carrier, trying to bring lunch to work more
January 17, 2017 7:01 PM   Subscribe

As part of a general "Trying to change things up" (with bonus potential savings) push, I'm trying to bring lunch into work more. From a wedding gift, I am also now in possession of a dabba/tiffin-carrier. (Apologies if one term is preferred over the other, Google suggested they're interchangeable) One seems like a solution for another, so any suggested recipes/categories of food (or things to know/avoid in my use & care of this) would be appreciated.

If it helps, my dabba has three tiers & I believe is stainless steel. I'm definitely interested in getting more into Indian cooking (Another gift was a masala dabba container), but I don't want to limit my options/use of this to just that, if that makes sense.

I suspect some combination of "Rice/noodles, protein in sauce, some sort of vegetables, pickled or otherwise?" should work well as a baseline, but I also suspect I could get a bunch of small corn tortillas to fit in there & do fajitas, for example.

Assume fairly good access to ingredients (as far as United States access goes) & a willingness to explore as far as cooking goes.
posted by CrystalDave to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Browsing in the bento cooking community will also give you ideas. Look for "tiffin Bento menus". You'll get a LOT of Japanese recipes, but they also have Western fare.

I have this kind of thing, and I also swear by The Moosewood Daily Special, which is nothing but salads and soups that are designed to be mixed and matched and combined. Make a couple salads and a couple soups and mix and match and eat your way through them over the course of the week.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:09 PM on January 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have one of these things (one of the thermos-y kinds, but same principal). I love mine because it almost forces me to remember to buy and bring fruit, as carrying around a tiffin with an empty tier just feels sad. Generally, I do leftovers, some kind of fruit, and some kind of snacky thing (anything from chips to baby carrots) or a non-greens-having salad like a greek salad.

I've also done stuff like beans and rice in one tier and avocado, sour cream, and salsa in the other, so that I can microwave the first one and then dump the second one on top of it.

(Not saying you shouldn't try to cook all kinds of delightful fun things, but do bear in mind that tiffins are also great for just regular-ass leftovers-y lunch.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:37 PM on January 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you live near a large East Asian population you likely have a Daiso you can go to; bring your tiffin and get a bunch of little things to use inside of it like silicon cups and dividers, tiny cold packs, little reusable containers for condiments. This will expand your options greatly since you can keep stuff separate within each layer as well.

Chef salad and dessert: 1. small cold pack plus robust greens, cheese and meat cubes, hard boiled egg. 2. section/cup with chopped roasted peppers and three bean salad, a package of croutons, and a small container of dressing. 3. Container of cut fruit with small bottle of sweetened yogurt and/or wrapped pastry or cookie. Or, if you don't do dessert and you have access to a heating device, do the bottom layer with soup.
posted by Mizu at 2:05 AM on January 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have one of those. It's great.
Mine has a larger (deeper) bottom tier and two slightly smaller top ones.

I go for primary carb in the bottom, so rices, or breads. Something a little goopy in the middle one, where all the protein and flavour is, so a curry, a chilli etc.

Then desert in the top. Fruit Salad is great for that.

I've had stuff like Bread rolls in the bottom, Haggis and Scrambled Egg in the middle and chocolate buttons in the top.
Soup is... risky. Mine doesn't have a full watertight seal, so Curry is fine, soup is iffy.

Other options are dedicating a tier to sauces.
So I had once chicken wings (Like, 5ish small ones). Then a couple of different sauces in the middle.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:16 AM on January 18, 2017

Trying to recall all the things I had packed for me in that style lunchbox as a child in India. These were all vegetarian as that was the norm at lunch:
Various variety rices: there are a huge variety of these that are commonly made in India including coconut rice, lemon rice, tomato rice and tamarind rice.
Many vegetable curries: stir fried okra, potatoes, beets with coconut, green beans with coconut, cabbage etc
Tortillas (really rotis or chapathis) with more liquid curries, including rajma (kidney beans), chickpeas etc
Many lighter salad type items: carrot salad with cilantro and chili, cucumber salad, tomatoes with a little twist of salt, hard boiled eggs with salt, plain boiled corn on the cob.
Fruit from time to time: orange segments, apple slices, guava with salt, watermelon, pineapple with chili powder and salt, pomegranate kernels.
posted by peacheater at 9:56 AM on January 18, 2017

Just flipped through my phone - every now and then I take photos of my tiffin lunch (to remind myself that it's awesome, when I fall into an always-buying-lunch phase). Some examples:

-Blueberries, rice pilaf, feta and olives
-Blueberries again, a coconut curry thing left over from a restaurant, one of those mozzarella/cherry tomato/oil/herb salads
-Sliced nectarines, pasta with tomato sauce and goat cheese, that mozzarella/tomato thing again
-Cherries, ceviche, corn chips for the ceviche

The fact that I usually stick with the fruit/main/side thing makes it way easier for me to plan.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:50 AM on January 18, 2017

Like someone said here are the 3 layers (starting from top)--

posted by metajim at 1:44 PM on January 18, 2017

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