Lesson 3: Good 'til Lunch
Keeping your food happy and fresh until lunchtime can be a bit of a challenge. Especially in summer. We've all had days of wilted salad and soggy bread. How can bento help you avoid it? Well coincidentally all those little ideas for packing a cute lunch really do have a practical application...
Ice and Water
By far the easiest way to keep everything fab and fresh to pack it at the right time. Putting cooked food in a lunchbox while it's still warm can lead to condensation. So where possible I like to put everything in cool or at least wait until it's as cool as it can be before putting the lid on. I like to prep my lunch first thing in the morning but only cover it as I'm heading out the door.
Another super simple freshness tip is to grab yourself an icepack. In summer especially they are necessary to keep everything cool in hour bang. I tend to carry one strapped to my boxes but you can get mini ones to go inside.
Separate Your Flavours
I'm not suggesting you stop all of your food from touching. If that's your thing then go for it but I like a snuggly box. There are some things that get along better when they don't mingle though. Check out the box above. I have lettuce and grapes touching but the broccoli is sectioned off. Why? Well the broccoli is roasted, it's coated in oil and salt. Exactly the flavours I don#'t want to seep out onto the fruit. Or the bread. That would be one soggy sandwich.
You may also notice that this time I left the grapes whole. Halved grapes may be a space saver but they do add moisture to the equation. The skin of fruit is it's own protective packaging after all.
Play With Your Food
If you pack a sandwich exactly as you want to eat it, with all the sauce and all the lettuce the bread will be moist and sad. Putt he dressing on the salad before you leave home and lettuce wilts. Drape the sauce onto the pizza bowl and everything turns into a soggy mess before you can get to it. Packing things in separate containers and assembling at lunch avoids the issue. And it's fun. It won't take all of your lunch time to assemble things if you prep them at home but it will make a big difference in texture and flavour.
Next week is the last lesson of lunchbox school (or is it? I haven't decided yet, do you know?) and we'll be talking about efficient prep for a speedy packed lunch.