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Holiday Gift Idea: Lunch Repair Kit

One of gifts I'm "making" this year is a Lunch Repair Kit which is something I have at my desk to fix takeaway food that turns out to be too bland.

Its a lunch box with a cloth napkin, real silverware (which make lunch at your desk slightly more civilized) and various spice(y) condiments to pump up boring food - good salt & pepper, soy sauce, srirachi, chipotle tabasco, olive oil, cayenne. I'll also add in various hard candies for a post lunch treat.

Can you think of anything else I should add that doesn't need refrigeration?

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  1. Good idea! I'd add mustard.

    1. Sugarless gum or a small toothbrush and toothpaste. I know it's not "foodie", but my dentist has been on me...

      2 Replies
        1. re: Andiereid

          I agree. That way the person can eat garlicky foods without fear of the consequences.

        2. I love this idea! Other than mustard and maybe a breath mint or two, I think you have it covered. Maybe a tiny peppermill?

          1 Reply
          1. re: prunefeet

            At work I keep one of those things that's a little bottle the size of a grocery spice bottle, loaded with mixed peppercorns and with a grinder in the top. That would be perfect in the kit.

          2. Great concept! I'd suggest adding balsamic vinegar.

            3 Replies
            1. re: BobB

              Yeah, good idea, then if you had a bad salad dressing, you could make your own vinaigrette since you already have the olive oil in the box!

              Great idea Larochelle... what kind of lunch boxes are they going to be?

              1. re: Katie Nell

                I've been picking up odd metal boxes from thrift stores - I have a Dean & Delucci one, some metal "trucker" ones, some kitch ones (Indiana Jones, Barbie, etc.), a couple Bento-style boxes, and I was going to swing by a local Indian grocery to see if they had anything.

                FYI - Last year I gave out "Mini Emergency Kits" in old cigar boxes that had aspirin, bandaids, safety pins, cold medicine, and so on.

                1. re: larochelle

                  Very cute! I have a Yogi and Boo Boo metal lunchbox that my uncle gave me a few years back- Boo Boo was/ is my nickname from him!

            2. This site has an enormous inventory of items that come in individual sizes: http://www.minimus.biz/default.aspx

              Although not limited to foodstuffs, you can order many types of condiments, sauces, jelly etc by the indvidual packet/container or in multiples.

              Some highlights (to me) include packtes of:
              Grey Poupon
              Malt Vinegar
              Clover Honey
              Lemon juice
              Crushed red pepper
              Horseradish sauce
              Tapatio hot sauce
              Ken's salad dressings
              Peanut butter & jelly
              And many, many more. None of the items need to be refrigerated before opening.

              2 Replies
              1. re: CDouglas

                World Market has a lot of individual condiments- I personally am infatuated with the Heinz ketchup and mustard bottles- I've always wanted to have a casual hotdog party where everyone gets their own K&M!

                1. I might add a small church key bottle opener. I know it isn't a repair item as such, but I can't tell you the number of times I've ordered take-out tacos with a Senorial, gotten back to my desk, and realized I had no way to open the soda...

                  finally got smart, have one now, but it took a while.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: susancinsf

                    I concur with the idea of a bottle opener, but instead of a church key style, I would go for one of those that's often called a "bar blade." It's a flat piece of metal with a hole in one end for prying off bottle caps, but it's also useful for opening cans with ring tabs that are too close to the surface of the lid to get good purchase if you wear fake fingernails or if, like me, you bite your fingernails and are therefore deprived of nature's crowbars.

                    And yes, antacids and Gas-X. Perhaps Beano for those who don't consider the idea of flatulence in the workplace to be an entertaining way to pass a dull afternoon?

                    This is such a monumentally good idea that it deserves to be stolen, often and shamelessly.

                  2. I'd add smoked salt, and a roll of antacids, just in case.

                    1. MSG

                      Miniature bottle of wine

                      1. Great idea. Patent the idea and include an airline pack (along your lines, I pack a bunch of stuff for trips--albeit there are more restrictions and greater needs for more stuff as time goes on).

                        I would add dried chili flakes (lighter and less problematic than bottled).

                        1. I would add a tiny containter with a lid for making salad dressing. A tupperware type thing that you could shake dressing up in. Or make a chili sauce in.

                          There are also little whole spice mixes, like herbes de provence and such with grinders attached that might be nice. I can't remember who makes them (does anyone know? I saw them at a winery in Sonoma last) but they also have a Moroccan blend and Italian blend. It's nice packaging too.

                          Good idea!!!

                          1. My husband suggested some straws, bonus points for bendy straws!

                            1. Yah, straws, floss, gum.
                              Also, think about mustard, and maybe a host sauce other than anything tobasco. I know a couple of hot foodies who would smile politely at receiving that, but throw it out as soon as you look away. Maybe that's personal preference.
                              I also would not bother with silverware for folks you know in situations where they do not have easy access to a kitchen at their work-place.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: GDSinPA

                                I disagree - if you have access to a clean washroom you can wash your silver at the sink there just as well, and it really does improve the experience. Plus you don't run the risk of struggling with poor-quality plasticware when trying to eat something that requires actual cutting or the like.

                                Not sure I'm on board with the cloth napkin, though - I tend to hoard better-quality paper napkins from catered events at work (the big, 2-ply "dinner" napkins.)

                                1. re: Allstonian

                                  I supose that's OK if you don't mind washing dishes in the bathroom. I haven't done that since college!!!

                                  1. re: GDSinPA

                                    Soap, hot water, some paper towels on which to lay your two or three pieces of silverware to keep them safe from a potentially dirty counter - what's the problem? We're not talking about washing a full load of dishes, it's a fork, a knife, and a spoon!

                                1. An emergency chocolate bar or two.

                                  For those times when, despite the repair kit, the lunch was still so bad that you're left disappointed.

                                  Also good for sharing with stressed out co-workers. I always had a few premium bars stashed away, and people knew when they were PO'd they could come complain and eat a few pieces of chocolate for a few minutes. Whether they got the Cadbury's or the Vosques depended on how bad the situation was!