Hold That Thought…

So, this New Year’s resolution of mine hasn’t got off to a very good start, has it? I could attempt to use the excuse that we’ve been far too busy to be messing around with cooking, but that wouldn’t be strictly true. Actually, it wouldn’t be true in the slightest, as we haven’t been doing very much of anything at all, other than shopping for a lovely new mirror (now gracing the wall above our mantlepiece and generally beautifying our living room) and playing with the cats. We’ve not even gone back to work yet. So I have no excuse at all.

I did make some guacamole yesterday, in preparation for a dinner of enchiladas that didn’t quite happen. Enchilada night will be tonight, instead, but sans guacamole, alas. We eated it. Oops.

Lest my imaginary reader might think that I have been utterly useless, I would like to point out that I have at least been checking out lots of recipes and thinking up lots of menus I intend to cook over the next week or so. Shopping lists are being compiled, and a trip to Whole Foods is in my immediate-ish future, methinks. Tomorrow. Yes.

I’ve also made yet another resolution, and that is to start packing lunch on a regular basis rather than squandering fortunes on the unimpressive, samey fare my work cafeteria has to offer. The plan is also to pack lunch for the Husband, so that he can avoid squandering similar amounts at every fast-food outlet within a five mile radius of his workplace. Previous attempts to get into a lunch-packing routine have largely failed, so I’m hoping things will go better this time. In the past we’ve tried the “let’s stock up on microwaveable ready-meals so we’ll always have something to take for lunch” approach and the “let’s take our leftovers to work!” approach, neither of which seem to have stuck.

Firstly, the microwaveable ready-meal approach. The problem with this being that we’re thoroughly unimpressed with the range of ready-meals available in our local supermarkets. I must confess to a fondness for Stouffer’s frozen five-cheese lasagna, and their gloopy, coma-inducing macaroni cheese, but there’s only so many times in a week (indeed, in a lifetime) you can eat either of those before becoming heartily sick of them. Plus, Stouffers =Nestlé, and putting aside all the other very sound reasons to boycott Nestlé, I still haven’t forgiven them for doing away with foil KitKat wrappers. Bastards.

Where was I? Oh yes, ready meals. The majority of the packaged “convenience” meals I’ve seen seem to be either cheap, nasty, processed crap full of gristle and animal parts of dubious origin, or overpriced, uber-virtuous, uber-tasteless macrobiotic/vegan/whatever health foods. Not that I have anything against vegans, you understand, but I all but projectile-vomited across the kitchen a couple of days ago when I sneaked a spoonful of the “sour cream” I’d just bought from Whole Foods, and it was revealed (much to my taste buds’ horror) to be dairy-free soy-based sour cream subsitute. ACK!! Threw that stuff straight in the trash, and the vile flavor was still lingering an hour later. This led to an offhand comment that the only thing that would kill the taste might be a tequila shot, which led to us going out, which led to my breaking of my dinner-cooking resolution on the very first day of the New Year. Oh well. But my point is that those breathtakingly expensive micro-dinners containing soy, soy and more soy are just not for me. I’m only marginally more inclined to ingest them than I am the cheapy processed crap mentioned above. No, thank you.

The “let’s take our leftovers to work!” approach has had marginally more success, but only with a little more planning than I’ve previously been capable of. Making enough, say, Thai green chicken curry for six meals and then hastily cramming most of it into two giant Tupperware boxes usually results in a fridge full of the stuff going to waste. Even when we do grab one of those Tupperware boxes on our way out the door in the morning (and that’s assuming we don’t lose the will to live at the thought of lunching on an identical meal to the enormous one we ate a little over 12 hours previously), a lot of food inevitably goes to waste. All my own fault, granted, for not packaging the stuff into more manageable containers, and for not planning a little more carefully. But this is where my latest plan comes in… bento boxes.

I’ve been admiring various blogs and sites detailing other people’s bento-box-packing lunches for quite some time now, oohing and aahing over the pretty boxes and the creative and imaginative things people put in them. At the same time, I’ve thought that such things must be for people with far more time and money on their hands (not to mention a much more, um, organized, not to mention possibly OCD, nature) than I possess. I can’t quite picture myself devoting an entire evening to crafting an underwater scene from precisely-cut and arranged vegetables, for instance. I also assumed that bento boxes must be for people who don’t actually eat much. No matter how much I might admire a box containing an artfully-arranged landscape of cute cutout veggies, I can’t see myself feeling satisfied after scarfing the contents of said box. Call me a pig, but I’d need to go out for lunch afterwards just to stop myself fainting from hunger!

A little more research over the past couple of days revealed that many of these boxes are actually more than big enough to squeeze in something filling along with plenty of healthy stuff to nibble on in an attempt to satisfy my chronic snacking habit. I was particularly taken with the boxes made by Laptop Lunches; so taken, in fact, that I ordered a couple of bento sets from them for myself and the Husband. Now I’m all excited and have spent most of the day dreaming up ideas for our lunches. Just don’t expect to see me crafting alpine scenes from bits of hand-sculpted turnip anytime soon. Ah, if only I had half the patience or a quarter of the talent…

Right now, I’m bloody starving, though. Enchilada-making time, I think!

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