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Mar 23, 2011 06:12 PM

College Lunch Ideas

I need some ideas that I cant take to school with me. I currently bring lunch with me but am getting tired of eating a sandwich every day. Any ideas? I don't have access to a fridge but I do a microwave. I usually leave my lunch in my cat until about noon. I don't like tuna. Do they sell chicken lunches in those bags like tuna? I am not good at cooking but am learning. (I'm still pretty bad). I also eat a lot of food. I was thinking grilled chicken salads even though I don't know any good recipes.

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  1. You might like to do a big batch of pasta salad. Put it in lunch-sized tupperwares and top with your grilled chicken (or with chicken salad). You can find lots of recipes for pasta salads, but as a good start, put in the things that you like. Use your favorite salad dressing, if you want. So maybe to start, you could do elbow pasta with diced red onion, roasted red peppers, onions, capers and feta with an Italian dressing that you like?

    1. Are you taking you lunch in a cooler? I assume you are but you didn't say so I have to stick my nose in and ask.

      1. I second the salad idea. One of my favorite is a peanut butter noodle salad, with a spicy asian-style PB dressing and any veggies/meats you like. I usually make mine with Trader Joe's sesame noodles, but have made it with just normal whole wheat spaghetti and extra dressing too and was equally as good. Here's a link to a Chow thread on this very style of salad (I don't have my recipe written down and would have to make it again to remember exactly how I do it haha):

        As you become more comfortable with pasta salads, the options are endless as you vary your grain, sauce, vegetable, and protein. Next to pasta salads my favorite grain is wheatberries, usually with either some white beans and vegetables and a vinaigrette-style dressing or with dried fruit, nuts, scallions, and chicken (and blue cheese when I have it on hand, yum) with a mustard-based dressing.

        The one major piece of advice if you start making salads such as these is to start with a small batch. I tend to always make more then I really want to eat over the course of a week (I can handle a certain amount of repetition with food but the same lunch 5 days a week is pushing it) and they're not really the types of food that freeze well, so start off small.

        The great thing with keeping your lunch in a car is that you can use a cooler (a small, soft sided one should be pretty inexpensive) and ice packs and really bring anything.

        1. As a current college student, things really depend on your lifestyle at home and how much time you have at school. If you do SOME cooking at home, make extra. I live off spaghetti sometimes since it's so easy to make and relatively healthy. Eat in your car, buy plasticware, invest in pyrex containers. I hate those plastic containers. They're cheap,but you can't hold any types of sauce/liquids in them because they discolor and I have a hard to microwaving plastic, even if they're supposed to be microwave safe. Pyrex containers are glass so they don't discolor and you can microwave guilt free. I'm asian so I make a lot of rice dishes. So easy. One container rice the other container xxx. Microwave them and put them together and you're good for lunch.

          7 Replies
          1. re: darrentran87

            My favorite leftover lunch is fried rice. Whenever I make brown rice for dinner, I make sure to make an extra serving. Then I make up a quick basic fried rice with the brown rice, egg, green onion and soy, and add in any leftover protein from dinner ie chicken and veggies if any, or just go vegetarian if no leftovers. It can be eaten cold the next day or reheated and is so filling. Like darrentran87, I try to use the Pyrex containers to take my lunches in.

            1. re: lulou23

              I love the idea of using pyrex, because I also hate the plastic containers, for the reasons that you mentioned, as well as, although I reuse them many times, I still think of them as disposable, and am making an effort to be more green. My concern about the pyrex is breakability. I carry my lunch ( often breakfast and sometimes dinner as well, usually at least two meals and sometimes three) to work in a good sized tote type bag..How do you carry the pyrex without breaking it?

              1. re: sunflwrsdh

                I too use glass containers to take lunch in. I carry them in a Built lunch tote, which is made of a pretty thick material that provides more of a cushion against knocks than normal canvas totes. Haven't had a problem in the many years I've been using it.

                1. re: GardenFresh

                  Thanks for the idea. I will definitely be moving toward pyrex as opposed to plastic. Warmer weather means I will need a cooler anyway, so a soft-sided cooler my be the way to go.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    I agree, the weight of the glass containers can really add up, especially when you're carrying a laptop too. I've been wanting to try stainless steel containers for lunches that don't need to be microwaved, but haven't gotten around to investing in one yet (sadly, right now that would be considered an investment for me). Does anyone here use metal containers? If so, how do you feel about them?

                  2. re: sunflwrsdh

                    I like pyrex as well, and also have a Built lunch tote (or my husband will carry them in a cotton shopping tote. Upside is I don't worry about leaching of plastic and they are easy to clean. Downside is they are not leakproof (at least the ones I have), and they are heavy.

                    My second favorite container is the OXO Top containers - leakproof, BPA-free, and lighter. Although I still don't like heating things up in them even though they are microwave safe, so at work I keep a plate/bowl to decant. I'm not sure if you have access to reheat, so that may not be an issue for you. And when I really need to reheat in them, I just make sure I do it slow and just enough to warm the food, not to make it really hot.