Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work we go!

By Don Bingham

Lunch pails, lunch totes, lunch sacks and lunch boxes have a rich and interesting history! Today’s kids stuff their lunch in a polyester version of a knock-off Vera Bradley; a soft insulated carrier that fits into their backpacks and the work-force adult is happy with a plastic Kroger bag!

The 1880’s historic lunchbox was a recycled tobacco box. The first commercial lunchbox was a metal picnic basket decorated with scenes of playing children, in 1902.

That wonderful historic resource, Google, explains that Mickey Mouse was the first popular character to grace the front of a lunch box, in 1935. Then a parade of personalities began and continue to this day, such as Gunsmoke, Cinderella, Barbie, Star Wars, The Beatles, Fat Albert and more!

The flea markets have scores of choices in historic, tired, used lunchboxes. Whatever your preference in carry convenience — here are some up-to-date ideas for your work day convenience. Beyond the cost savings, your home-packed lunches are healthier and portion controlled.

Those who love sandwiches may use a variety of whole grain breads, pitas and wraps. The adults might consider adding basil, sprouts, sliced cucumbers, onions or tomatoes. Leftovers are the perfect food to pack – they are sure to be more nutritious, filling and delicious. What could be better than a lunch of chili, soup or rice and beans packed in a microwavable container and heated at the office? Cooking in bulk is also a great suggestion. Prepare your favorite over the weekend and freeze into individual portions that are ready to take to work – even packed the night before in the refrigerator and ready to grab on the way out the door.

There are endless options for using the thermos, microwave safe containers with lids and the ever-handy sealable plastic bag.

The marketing genre has shelf after shelf of options for the kids of the family. I’m going to suggest the following brown bag lunch that sounds delicious to me and could even be prepared in a second bag and taken to share with a stop-by spouse or a co-worker. These recipes, as given, will produce enough to work with any entrée for dinner the next night. Whereas, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chips are a viable option, it’s fun to raise the bar of the sack lunch to a gourmet level! I’ve enclosed two sandwiches, three salads and an option for a cup of soup.

In the 70’s we owned and operated Zinzendorf’s, the first tea room in Conway, starting out with a small seating area with a pizza, soup/salad/sandwich menu. Two of the most popular sandwich offerings were the Rachel and the Turkey Delight! The Ruben – corn beef and sour kraut – was also a regular on the menu.

The sandwich recipes below travel well and would be great for the work day lunch – or anytime!

Don Bingham
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