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Hot or cold lunch? THAT is the question.

March 21, 2012

Picking up on last week’s theme about Bento Boxes, I wanted to talk about another thing all of us “brown-baggers” struggle with: whether to bring a hot or cold lunch to school or work.

As I wrote about last week, one of the best things about bento boxes is that they have individual containers that are usually microwaveable. (Make sure you confirm this is the case on the manufacturer’s label.) You can easily stick something you want to reheat in one container, such as leftovers from last night's Sweet Potato Casserole, leaving the other containers free for room temperature or cold items.Speaking of cold items, how about this for an idea: Instead of a regular old ice pack, how about an edible ice pack? I sometimes will freeze the fruit cups that come in the little plastic containers or even individual puddings. Remember Bill Cosby’s pudding pops? Same thing! By the time lunch rolls around, they have defrosted, but are still cold.If you don’t have access to an oven or a microwave during the day, one way to spice up your room-temperature lunch is to spice up your room-temperature lunch. Yes, you read that correctly--season food a bit more aggressively than you would if you were going to eat it hot. Also, as we all remember from our elementary school lessons about how Marco Polo used spices on foods to keep them from spoiling on the way back home, spices sometimes have anti-bacterial properties. Some of the strongest anti-bacterial spices are garlic, onion, allspice and oregano. Others include thyme, cinnamon, tarragon and cumin.A cold or room-temperature lunch does not have to be a boring lunch, and making it can sometimes be almost as fun as eating it.

Brown-Bag Challenge

We’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers to join Food Network's Healthy Eats' Brown-Bag Challenge, a month-long initiative to eat consciously and save money by packing a lunch each weekday instead of eating out. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #brownbag.See what other people have to say about lunch this week:Chez Us: Lentil SaladEssentials of Nutrition: Brown-Bag Challenge, Break Room Not RequiredThe Undercover Cook: Buffalo Chicken-Stuffed Baked PotatoesThis Imperfect Plot: Week 4 (and a BBC side effect: weight loss)Confessions of a Curious Cuisiniere: What Does Your Sandwich Say About You?I Brown Bag: Brown-Bag Challenge, Day-by-DayCarmen Fitness: Brown-Bag Challenge, Going StrongFamily Fresh Cooking: Top Ten Best Lunch-Packing TipsCanadian Mother Musings: Caught NOT Brown-Bagging ItBoysNBerry: Sandwiches . . . and a Not-so-Great Frozen BurritoFeeding Philosophers: Lovely LegumesHealthy Plates: Vegetable Beef SoupHealthy Kitschy Vegan: PeaceAli Girl Cooks: Brown-Bag Shake-UpAll Things Splendid: Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-ChiliCity Life Eats: Day 16 and a Recap of This Week's LunchesGrecian Kitchen: Brown-Bag ChallengeCooking Channel: Monkeying Around Lunch BoxReve Noir: Brown-Bag Challenge Day 9, Repeat AgainThe Garden Ephemerist: Brown BaggedAdventures in Every Day: Brown-Bag RecapEating Omily: My Lunch StoryNutritious Daily: Easy, Peasy PastaChick Bike: Brown-Bag Challenge Days 15 & 16  

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