How I make lunch

This is not really a recipe, but I find myself telling a lot of folks about my lunch-building process lately, so I thought it might be useful.  This is how I make my work lunches. They’re no masterpiece, and I know some people are not entirely cool with eating 5-day-old chicken, but it works for me.

Every Sunday I get home from grocery shopping, and prepare…


(1) Enough chicken breast of a week of lunch, seasoned with whatever I’m in the mood for. (Italian, greek, tex-mex…)

(2) Week’s worth of salad.  I avoid delicate greens and veggies that get mushy, so usually use: parsley, napa cabbage, spinach, parsley, watercress, bell peppers, carrots, celery, seedless cucumber and avoid: tomatoes, regular cukes, run-of the mill lettuce, baby spinach.

(3) A bottle of home made salad dressing, again, the recipe varies at whim.

Then, in 5 1-gallon zip-lock bags, I layer up…

(1) The chicken, cooled and chopped up.  This goes at the bottom so it doesn’t mess up your veggies.

(2) The salad stuff.

(3) A handful of nuts – almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, whatever.  Sure, these are a *little* soggy by friday, but I’m lazy enough not to care.  Sometimes I’ll do half an avocado sliced in Monday and Tuesday’s lunch instead of nuts, but they won’t make it till Friday.

I leave my salad dressing and a big bowl at work, and grab a bag every morning on the way out the door.  At lunch time, I dress my salad in the bag, shake it up, dump it in my bowl, and make my co-workers jealous.

Snacks!

No, not rose petals:  beet chips and nori chips

While I try not to give myself too many attractive options for mindless eating, I’m working on a few reasonable “emergency” munchies that keep me out of my roommate’s leftover pizza.

There are some good ideas here, but my quest continues to find a few good options that will work on the fly. For now I am figuring out how many different vegetables I can turn into “chips” in the oven. The beets and sweet potatoes would also be good PWO with a protein. Here’s what I know so far…

For all veggies:
Set the oven to 250, and turn on the convection or “speed bake” if you have it.  Slice veggies to a very thin 1/8 inch as evenly as possible.  I get better results if I slice most veggies in half lengthwise first so they don’t roll around while I’m trying to precision-cut. Grease your baking sheets with coconut oil, and spread one layer think.  Keep and eye on them while cooking, turning once they start curling up, and moving them to towels or plates to cool once they curl up and just start to brown.

Beets:
Peel, sprinkle with a little red wine vinegar.  Up to 2 hours in the oven depending on thickness.  Red beets seem to fare better than golden beets.

Sweet Potatoes:
Leave skins on. Try seasoning with cinnamon and chipotle powder.  Up to 2 hours depending on thickness.

Kale:
(Don’t slice!) Tear out thick center stem, toss with good oil to just barely coat (I used almond oil), scatter on a try and sprinkle with a little good salt (I like smoked salt or truffle salt). About 15 minutes or when they turn dark green.  These are really brittle, and while tasty, do not travel well.

Radishes:
People make them, but I tried was not impressed.  Don’t bother.

Nori:
You have to like seaweed to enjoy these.  See instructions here.

I tend to micro-manage this process, picking chips off one at a time as they get done, but they should finish up evenly if you slice them very evenly to begin with.  They crisp up a little once they’re cool, so its ok if they’re a little bendy so long as they’ve curled up and toasted a little.

Coconut Lime Chipotle Sauce

I made this to go over salmon, but I think it would work for shrimp or cold chicken salad as well:

Soak in hot water for 5 minutes:
3 dried ancho chiles

Remove chile stems and cores, and toss in food processor or blender with:
juice of 1 lime
1 can of coconut milk
5 cloves of garlic (unless its date night)
Chipotle powder to taste (its spicy!)
A little salt if you’re so inclined

Blend smooth, enjoy!