Show me yours I’ll show you mine

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Kitchen stories

“Write about the lunch box” my friend Emma said. Emma and I also work together, which means we share our lunch break almost every day. For us, lunch break means lunch box 9 out of 10 times.

I prefer the lunch box over going out for several reasons. Number one is economical. Bringing your leftovers to work is probably one of the easiest ways to save money. In Sweden, restaurant food is pretty expensive, and if you go out for lunch five times a week, it’ll add up quickly. Meanwhile, making a couple of portions more while you’re at it cooking dinner will only cost a fraction of that amount.

The second reason is quality. A lot of lunch restaurants seem to be stuck with a routine menu, and I hate paying for something I know I could have done better myself. The third reason is time. I don’t like rushing and if I only got a limited amount of time, I don’t think it’s worth the drive and the wait just to inhale my meal in ten minutes before hurrying back to the office.

Another thing the lunch box’s got going is that it adds a little suspense to your break. Not your own box, but your co-workers’ choices. Where I work, a lot of people bring lunch boxes and it’s always interesting to see what everybody else is packing. There are the people like me and Emma, who’re quite ambitious and bring our Osso Buco-leftovers and get inspired (i.e. jealous and competitive) when we see a lunch box more exciting than our own. Then there are the ones who’ll eat half-frozen spaghetti (because they couldn’t wait another two minutes for the microwave to finish) topped with spray can whipped cream (for flavor). And of course those who’ll bring their once tasty looking lunch box and forget it in the fridge for weeks, until green fuzz starts growing out of it. Like I said, lunch break is always interesting.

If you’re not yet living in the lunch box world but would like to enter, my advice is simple: always make a lot more food than you’re gonna eat and then put the leftovers in the freezer. I always cook for at least four, even if it’s just me. Most food freeze real well, the exception are things like boiled potatoes (but as you know, I’m not a fan anyways) and dishes with eggs, like omelette for example.

One downside to this strategy, though, is sometimes you go a little bit over the top. Time and time again, I’ve made the mistake of making a huge pot of vegetable soup and then, since I have a condition that makes it impossible to throw away food, I’ll have to eat it forever. Don’t get me wrong, I like vegetable soup every now and then, but I think it’s one of those things that are best at home while it’s fresh, and accompanied by bread and butter. I’ll then have my bowl of soup and be satisfied.

However, every time I forget this enough is enough-thing and make soup for an entire army and since I’m not allowed to throw away food, I’ll have about ten tupperware boxes filled with carrot soup that I have to force feed myself for months. It always ends with me eating half the portion and throwing away the rest. Then after a couple of hours I’m so hungry and cranky and miserable I’ll have to go to the cafeteria and buy a sandwich (or cake) instead. This means the whole idea of the lunch box is wasted. But no use in crying over spilled soup, right. There’s usually plenty more where that came from.

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Malin Ågren is a copywriter living in Sweden. Food is her number one hobby.

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