Lunch ideas from YOU! And a Rubbermaid lunch gear giveaway

Easy lunch box ideas: Fruit salad; whole-wheat pasta carbonara; and salted edamame

Battling the lunch box blues can be a two-way street.

Over the years that I’ve been doing this blog, readers have offered up so many great ideas for lunch I wanted to give everyone a chance to share them. And I wanted to make it as easy for you (and me!) as possible.

So starting today I’ve launched a You page (check out the tab above). All you need to do to post pictures of your lunch ideas is use Instagram on your phone to snap a picture. Tag it with the hashtag #lunchboxblues and it will automatically show up there.

Post often. Comment often. Great lunches that are fun and healthy don’t have to take a ton of time or energy to assemble. We’re all proof of that. So now let’s show the rest of the world.

To that end, today’s lunch came together in about 5 minutes. I started by making a basic fruit salad with strawberries, clementine segments and blackberries. I considered making a yogurt dip or something for it, but got distracted. Story of my life.

The rest was all pulled from dinner leftovers. First up, the whole-wheat pasta carbonara I’d made for dinner. I’d been planning to make a sausage quiche, but realized I had only three eggs in the house. Not going to cut it.

My recipe for carbonara is simple and needs no recipe. Boil up pasta. I always use whole wheat, but go with what you like. While the pasta cooks, crack an egg or two into a bowl. Grate Parmesan or whatever cheese you have into the egg. The more the better. Mix well.

Cook up some bacon, too. Or pancetta. You could even pan-fry a litte leftover ham. Or if you have prosciutto, don’t even bother to cook it. Just add it at the same time as the eggs (below).

When the pasta is cooked, drain, but don’t worry too much about a little water in the pan or on the pasta. You want a couple tablespoons of the cooking water still in the pan. Never rinse the pasta. Or any pasta.

Return the pasta to the pot. Dump the eggs and cheese into it, then use tongs to start tossing. Keep tossing. And some more. Keep going. And… We’re good. After a minute or so, the eggs and cheese should have formed a lusciously creamy sauce clinging to the pasta.

Add the bacon, then season with salt and pepper, then you’re done. Some chopped fresh parsley is nice, too, but I usually don’t bother.

So that made the second part of Parker’s lunch. I just heated it briefly, then popped it in a thermos.

Finally, for his “green” last night, I boiled up some edamame. When he saw them, he was all, “Ew! I don’t like edamame.”

Like all good parents, I ignored him. Because five minutes later, “Yum! I DO love these.”

And since today is Thursday, we also have a lunch gear giveaway! Today, it’s a double set of Rubbermaid LunchBlox containers. These are very cool. They stack up together and have integrated chill packs. You can read about them here.

Today’s giveaway will be a little different. You can enter by either leaving a comment here or posting a picture of your lunch on the new You page. Folks who do both will get double the chance to win. Good luck!


« Back

51 Responses to “Lunch ideas from YOU! And a Rubbermaid lunch gear giveaway”

  1. Erin says:

    Love the idea of the new YOU page. I also love the gear giveaway today. I’m crossing my fingers :)

  2. I’m glad I’m not the only one who ignores what my kid says. My husband thinks it’s fun how I still put veggies on our son’s plate, but he will definitely eat them sometimes.

    • LaurieGo says:

      Definitely sometimes? So many things in my life are definitely sometimes.

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      My kid knows he won’t get more of what he wants (meat!) until the veggies are consumed. He isn’t happy about it, but as I always tell him: “I didn’t ask you to like it. I asked you to eat it.”

  3. Christine D. says:

    Love the YOU page!! And love the Rubbermaid containers…My son isn’t in school yet and gets his lunch from his sitter so I don’t have a contribution to make to the you page yet, but will be checking often to see what others prepare!

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Thanks for reading along! And don’t hesitate to post pictures of your own lunch.

  4. Julie Z says:

    Can’t wait to check out posts on the YOU page! Those containers look like they offer a lot of different lunch packing options. Would love to try them.

  5. RuthAnn says:

    ooo – these are great! my husband is going to think i am insane, photographing his lunches!! so be it.

  6. Andrea says:

    The YOU page is a terrific idea and much appreciated by this in-need-of-new-inspiration-lunch-packing-mom! Cheers!

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      We’re all serving time in the lunch box trenches together! Might as well help each other.

  7. Nancy H. says:

    You make it all sound so easy…yet when I look in my fridge I don’t see the options you see. Thanks for inspiring.

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Ha! I just have lower standards. That makes it easier to make fine dining out of leftover slop.

  8. Beth L says:

    My daughter would love those Blox as she has recently gained access to all of her plates/cups/bowls and uses them to build endless villages of towers. Who needs toys?
    Love the idea of the You page – even more ideas to borrow. :-)

  9. AWirsch says:

    Nice gear, indeed! My kids love edamame…they love to say it and pop ’em out of their shells. So how much cheese do you put in the carbonara, I know the more the better, but are you talking 16 oz of cheese for a pound of pasta?

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Well… I used about 1 to 1 1/2 cups grated cheese (give or take) for about 8 or 10 ounces of pasta.

  10. Lisa L says:

    These look interesting and versatile!

  11. Kerry says:

    I love how you incorporate leftovers into lunch (of course, your leftovers tend to sound more appealing than mine, but I guess that’s something to work on). And I love those Rubbermaid boxes. Here’s hoping it’s my lucky week…

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      I could not live without leftovers! They truly make nearly everything I do possible.

  12. Ryan says:

    As a working mom back in school, I pack lunches for both my son and myself! Your blog inspires me to keep it interesting. First time I’ve commented…so here’s hoping I have beginner’s luck!

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Good for you! Going back to school takes so much energy, I get tired just thinking about it. I’d love to go back to culinary school (I’m not a chef, I have a master’s in philosophy!), but finding the time and energy. Good for you!

  13. Deena Tamashiro says:

    I have never seen these before. They are cool!

  14. Jalisa J. says:

    I have been looking for some containers like this, to keep up with food proportions. ^___^ ! So happy to have found this site today.

  15. Lynn says:

    Great new feature. We always use leftovers for the toddler’s lunch, but it’s never quite as varied as what you do for Parker. It’s usually steamed rice with different stir-fries or braised dishes. With some fruit on the side and a cup of water.

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      That sounds pretty delicious to me. I love rice. So does Parker. A sprinkle of soy sauce and he’s good to go.

  16. LaurieGo says:

    My problem is a little inverted: I leave for work and my retired husband remains in the house with no lunch plan. I offer to leave a lunch (not pack a lunch) but he always says, “No, no. I’ll take care of it myself.” And when I come home yesterday, he’d eaten a yogurt and some ‘Nilla wafers. This with a full pantry and a frig full of leftovers: roast chicken, tortillas, several cheeses, thick-cut pickle chips, a variety of olives, hard-boiled eggs, baby spinach, rice… I keep hoping Parker will pick me so I can give my husband a beautiful set and announce, “I have to leave you a lunch or all these lovely containers will go to waste.” Well, that’s the plan.

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Maybe it’s a guy thing. My dirty little confession… Here I write a blog about lunch. But I never eat lunch. I drink coffee for breakfast. I have some veggies as a snack at some point. Then I have dinner. It’s my way.

      • LaurieGo says:

        Actually, Frank says he eats when he’s hungry but — guess what — he only seems to get hungry when the cook walks in the door. The power of suggestions…

  17. Meg Cronin says:

    Great lunch! But guess what? Field trips are hard: everything has to be disposable. Yesterday (trip to planetarium), we went with baggies and baggies full of crackers, cheese, pretzels, etc, but the blackberries had to go in a tupperware because, otherwise, “they’d be smushed.” God forbid. So I had to let her throw out the tiny tupperware container. Damn.

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Ugh! And god forbid the fruit be a little smushed. Then it might be like, I don’t know… Jam!?!? And have you seen the food served in that place? Ugh!!!!

  18. Christy says:

    Those Rubbermaid lunchboxes are cool.

    If you ever find that you want to make quiche but only have a couple egg, make Refrigerator Pie. This is one of my sons’ favorite dinners:

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Interesting idea. Similar to what I do for quiche. Will try that. Luckily, I stocked up on eggs today so was good for quiche tonight.

  19. Melvina Mitchell says:

    I use those same containers for my son and he loves them, only because it keeps everything separate!

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      I consider myself lucky that Parker never went through a “food can’t touch” phase. He’s OCD about plenty of other things, just not that…

  20. Diane Carreiro says:

    What a convenient lunch set! Love it!

  21. Erin says:

    Cute containers. I’ve found myself needing really small, well-sealed containers for the extras that make lunch interesting (sauces, dips). Never saw these before!

  22. Gina Lindsay says:

    Love the idea of the You page. I am always looking for interesting things to pack for lunch. We use left overs a lot too. And because I am not a morning person, I usually pack lunches as I am dishing up dinner. Love those containers!

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      I used to do it the night before, but it required more energy after already cooking and cleaning up. Better to put off until tomorrow what could be done today…

  23. lisabella says:

    What a great idea. And I love those Rubbermaid containers. I’ve been lusting after them at Target!

  24. Fran says:

    I like the edamame pods with a little sesame dressing. YUM.

    And I love those rubbermaid containers.

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      I’ve never done them with sesame dressing. I bet some toasted sesame oil and salt would be amazing.

  25. Elaine says:

    would love to win this! so cute!

  26. Daniela says:

    Ok I did an instagram photo, my friends will be wondering why in the world i am showing off the kids lunches.

    • J.M Hirsch says:

      Awesome! I’m having some technical issues. So if it doesn’t show up right away, stick with me.