Author Topic: "Out-and-About" Food  (Read 8534 times)

Justin234

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"Out-and-About" Food
« on: March 07, 2013, 04:49:45 PM »
I work outside of the office several days a week, so I'm frequently eating on the go (without access to kitchen, fridge, microwave, etc.). I try to avoid buying food at restaurants for obvious reasons, but I end up being either perpetually hungry, or buying something just because I need to eat.

I do try to bring a few staples with me each day: a jar of nuts and raisins; a banana; a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. These are my subsistence foods. Nothing against them, but they are getting a little old...

So I'm wondering what others do to avoid buying food during the day. Or what do you do to buy good, cheap food if you need to? Any tips for what can be prepared quickly at home and lasts through the day in a backpack? Also, what do you wrap/store the food in? I use old plastic bags when I have them, but when I run out I have to improvise.

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2013, 05:28:44 PM »
It was worth the $9 to me to buy an insulated lunch bag which keeps my cold foods or my hot foods warm until lunch time. So, I mostly bring leftovers to work for lunch. If it's a hot dish, I heat it to hotter than I'd do if I were going to eat it right then, and put it in the bag and seal it up. If it's a cold dish, it goes straight from fridge to bag with an ice pack in it. Room temp items (apples, bananas, nuts, etc.) go in the regular plastic grocery bag on Mondays to stay in my desk drawer throughout the week until used.

bogart

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2013, 06:52:46 PM »
I subsisted for several of my late teen years on bananas, Pepsi, and the occasional Reese cup (not really, but closer than anyone should have), so ... what was the problem again?  Oh, yeah, we're all grown up now, right, right.

I'd readily add to your list apples, oranges (and variations thereof -- the clementine, the satsuma...), pears.  Cucumbers (+ a knife for slicing).  Celery or bagels with cream cheese.  Hard boiled eggs, yogurt -- both will keep @ room temp for a day, easy (if it is summertime heat and you have to leave them in the vehicle, or out, then ... no.  Crackers, chips, pretzels.  Cheese of all sorts though only if it can be kept cool (won't go bad that fast but I don't like the way it gets rubbery when warm).  Anchovies in a tin (hey, you wanted variety ;) ).  Sliced peppers (again, should be fine at room temp, don't keep well when hot).  Grapes (ditto).  Cherry tomatoes, plain, or sliced tomatoes in a vinaigrette (or not).  Good bread (the crusty stuff, or pita), with hummus (again, enough for the day, assuming room temp).

lifejoy

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2013, 07:16:03 PM »
I love this question, because you're already eating a lot of what I'm doing, and I know how hard it can be to have variety!

- fruit of all kinds
- granola bars
- trail mix (make your own! and throw in some smarties)
- cheese and crackers
- yogurt
- pudding
- pretzels
- snackable veges (mini carrots!)
- beef jerky
- frozen burritos

Honestly, the ideas that were given are great. Leftovers make up a huge component of what I eat. Part of your question asks about how to avoid buying food during the day: packing a great lunch will definitely help, but it's not always enough, is it? I know I still get tempted to supplement with something a little more interesting!

I give myself a food budget, and about once a week I'm buying something awesome at work :) Makes my day a little nicer. And isn't that what mustachianism is all about? Buying things when they greatly contribute to your happiness? :)

N

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2013, 07:31:47 PM »
we use reusable sandwich bags and wrap mats. and washable containers. Jars. I hate throwing away plastic baggies! I have a variety of lunch boxes to choose from depending on how much we have to take with us (im usually with my two kids).  I have a couple of thermoses for hot leftovers.

food: crackers, cookies (homemade), fruit, sandwiches, leftovers from fridge...trail mix.

Another Reader

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2013, 08:02:33 PM »
This is tough for anyone out in the field all day.  An insulated lunch bag, fruit, veggies, nuts, cookies and sandwiches without mayo are what I used to do many years ago.

sheepstache

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2013, 09:08:49 PM »
Maybe it's just how I'm wired but I find that if a bit of convenience food tempts me but I'm not in the mood for a peanut butter sandwich that it's a sign I'm not really hungry.  If I'm truly hungry then anything, no matter how routine, tastes good.  It does take some getting used to though if you're in the habit of getting convenience foods.

Not that I am without sympathy for your situation, just offering a different view.

Also, I find that if I have plenty of food then I feel hunger less keenly.  Like, if I've eaten all my snacks or only have one left, the hunger bothers me.  Whereas if I threw half a loaf of bread into my bag as one of my snacks then I can go on feeling quite peckish for awhile but not be worried about it because I have more than I can possibly eat in a day (and the remainder becomes snacks for the next day).  So quantity over quality might help in this situation.

Justin234

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2013, 11:52:21 AM »
Thanks for all the tips, everyone. I've made a list of everything mentioned, and I'm going to get myself insulated lunch bag. Also, I think some investment in good food containers that won't open in my bag will allow me to carry more leftovers around town.

To respond to sheepstache:

Maybe it's just how I'm wired but I find that if a bit of convenience food tempts me but I'm not in the mood for a peanut butter sandwich that it's a sign I'm not really hungry.  If I'm truly hungry then anything, no matter how routine, tastes good.  It does take some getting used to though if you're in the habit of getting convenience foods.

I really don't think this is a case of overeating. I do eat junk food when I am not particularly hungry, but that's usually at home. When I am out, if I have a peanut butter sandwich, then I eat it. I may also go and buy some convenience food because I am still hungry, but I'm not talking about passing up on food I have to buy other food (although sometimes nuts and raisins just don't seem to add up to a real meal so I will buy something).

However, there are mornings when I just think, "PBJ, again?" I have paid my dues: In my day, I've eaten enough PBJ sandwiches to tile my patio with them (if I had a patio), or maybe shingle my roof. I've saved hundreds and hundreds of dollars eating PBJ. There comes a time when you just have to implement some variety; I just want to save hundreds and hundreds of dollars eating something else for a change.


Also, I find that if I have plenty of food then I feel hunger less keenly.  Like, if I've eaten all my snacks or only have one left, the hunger bothers me.  Whereas if I threw half a loaf of bread into my bag as one of my snacks then I can go on feeling quite peckish for awhile but not be worried about it because I have more than I can possibly eat in a day (and the remainder becomes snacks for the next day).  So quantity over quality might help in this situation.

This is an interesting point; I'm sometimes limited in that I can't fit a huge amount of food in my backpack, but it's possible that I need to carry a surplus of lunch - including a bunch of stuff that won't go bad, of course, and can be used later.

mobilisinmobili

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2013, 12:33:42 PM »
A Stanley Thermos to keep food hot may be a good choice too, depending on how you're moving around during the day.

Bakari

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2013, 01:11:22 PM »
Unless you are underweight and trying to gain, try MMM's suggestion to "try to appreciate mild hunger"

IMHO, its really not that bad.  We just have gotten spoiled by plentiful cheap food to think we should never experience even the mildest temporary discomfort.  I frequently just wait until I get home to eat.

That being said, get some tupperware containers (from the thrift store) and you can always bring last nights leftovers for lunch (or whatever), and make a sandwich holder (a reuseable sandwich bag - I'm planning to make an instructable for this this week, I'll try to remember to post the link here)

When I do buy away from home, its most often at the burrito truck.  Reasonably well balanced, full meals worth of food, for $3-4.

babysteps

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2013, 01:16:10 PM »
we use reusable sandwich bags and wrap mats. and washable containers. Jars. I hate throwing away plastic baggies!
Thanks for all the tips, everyone. I've made a list of everything mentioned, and I'm going to get myself insulated lunch bag. Also, I think some investment in good food containers that won't open in my bag will allow me to carry more leftovers around town.

Spouse teases me about always travelling with food.

You can re-use washed out jars, no need to 'invest' in food containers :)  Put the food containers on your wish list if you have non-MMM family members that give you gifts ;)

I cook up 5 days' chicken thighs at a time & then bring one with me for lunch.  If you're worried about food safety, you can freeze them after they're cooked and they'll stay darn cold until lunch even without an insulated bag or cold pack.

Agree on the boiled eggs, they're one of my favorite will-travel snack foods.

Did anyone mention leftovers yet?

I admit to eating about the same thing most days for lunch (chicken thigh, carrot, maybe some rice or starch leftover from dinner) - as a kid I had a peanut butter and honey sandwich, carrots and milk every day for lunch.  EVERY day, 3yo to leaving for college.  So what did I eat for lunch in grad school?  Yup, same thing :)  When I'm on the go I bring a dishtowel for placemat/napkin/handwipe purposes (since I usually eat the chicken with my fingers).

Justin234

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2013, 01:27:08 PM »
Unless you are underweight and trying to gain, try MMM's suggestion to "try to appreciate mild hunger"

IMHO, its really not that bad.  We just have gotten spoiled by plentiful cheap food to think we should never experience even the mildest temporary discomfort.  I frequently just wait until I get home to eat.

I know what you mean, and agree that in our society we tend to snack at any sign of hunger. That said, I am actually trying to do the opposite of your suggestion! I have a tendency to neglect myself by not eating when I should. Not that I am underweight, but I can forget to eat and get lightheaded, or think I can get by the entire day on a granola bar, then I crash on my bike ride home (figuratively, so far).

Do you skip lunch entirely? I eat breakfast around 8 AM, then normally am not home until 6 PM. I would have to change my meal system radically (ala Jacob of ERE's hunter diet) if I am not going to get really hungry (not just mildly hungry) during the day.

That being said, get some tupperware containers (from the thrift store) and you can always bring last nights leftovers for lunch (or whatever), and make a sandwich holder (a reuseable sandwich bag - I'm planning to make an instructable for this this week, I'll try to remember to post the link here)

When I do buy away from home, its most often at the burrito truck.  Reasonably well balanced, full meals worth of food, for $3-4.

I'd definitely be interested in the sandwich back instructable. Will keep a look out.

Bakari

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2013, 02:36:41 PM »
Unless you are underweight and trying to gain, try MMM's suggestion to "try to appreciate mild hunger"

IMHO, its really not that bad.  We just have gotten spoiled by plentiful cheap food to think we should never experience even the mildest temporary discomfort.  I frequently just wait until I get home to eat.

I know what you mean, and agree that in our society we tend to snack at any sign of hunger. That said, I am actually trying to do the opposite of your suggestion! I have a tendency to neglect myself by not eating when I should.

Me too.  I am actively trying to gain a little, and my default is to not eat until I get actual hunger pangs.
You know what?  I'm gonna stop writing and get a snack right now

Quote
Do you skip lunch entirely?
Well, I don't have a standard 9-5.  I work from 2pm to 8pm one day a week, and 8am to somewhere between 4pm and 11pm 2 days a month (Coast guard Reserve duty).
Other than that, its fairly random hours between 10am and 6pm, depending on what my client's needs are.
On those days when I am working during lunch time, yes, I almost always skip lunch entirely (breakfast around 8am, dinner around 6pm)
In winter that may be once a month, in summer 2-4 days a week.

But I don't know if I could stand it if I worked a regular 9 hour shift 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year.
Back when I did have a regular style job, (and my ex-wife was my wife), my wife made me lunch more often than not.  Hmm, haven't thought about that in YEARS.  Maybe I should have kept her :P

totoro

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2013, 03:08:00 PM »
I like boiled eggs and have recently started making Chinese tea eggs: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chinese-tea-leaf-eggs/.

What do you like?  I like soup and chili and hot things at lunch so a thermos is good for this.

I stay in hotels for work for stretches of time sometimes.  There was a post about this before with a list of what people eat.  Without access to a stove I buy cheeses and crackers, rye bread, huumus, sliced vegetables, naan bread, olives, and fruit.  Tuna  is good packaged separately with crackers. 

If you like wraps they are super easy.  I used to make wraps with refried beans with avocado, salsa and cheese until I ate too many of them. 

Finally, as others have said, leftovers work.  My kids are big fans of leftover pizza in their lunches.

bogart

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2013, 07:28:15 PM »
Oh, I forgot (and don't make it as often as I used to) but when the armageddon comes, I'm hiding in my bunker (or setting out across the savannah) with several loaves of homemade banana bread.

Dump into a bowl:  1 egg, 1/4 cup each of white and brown sugar (or you can just use 1/2 cup of either), 1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal (rolled oats), 1 cup crushed walnuts, 2 bananas, 1 tsp each of vanilla and baking soda, sprinkle of salt, 6 tblspns melted butter (and some raisins if you're feeling inspired).  Mix until fully blended.  Add 1 cup whole wheat flour (I like King Arthur's white whole wheat as it's a lighter wheat than red wheat), mix in.  Dump into a lightly oiled bread pan (about 5" * 9").  It takes exactly 42 minutes to cook to moist perfection in my toaster over @ 300 degrees, the particulars of yours (time/temp) will probably require fine-tuning (but when a knife stuck into the loaf pulls out clean, it's done). 

Remove from oven, allow to cool, take out of pan, wrap in tinfoil.  Slice, place slice in tupperware, carry, consume. 

sheepstache

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2013, 05:05:27 PM »


I really don't think this is a case of overeating.

... I'm not talking about passing up on food I have to buy other food



Ha, well, good, so long as you know yourself.

Another thing that you may already have thought of is: are you eating enough outside of work?  Sometimes if you eat enough for breakfast and dinner you don't really rely on a full lunch to get you through the day, even if you're doing physical work.  (Alternately, I'm thinking of office workers I know who feel too rushed to have a proper breakfast and then feel too rushed to make a proper dinner so of course they have to go out for a big lunch every day.)  Even eating a bunch on Sunday can help you avoid discomfort on Monday.  Again, depends how you're wired, ymmv.

I agree with what others have said about experimenting with how far you can push the refrigeration envelope.  Personally I find most stuff is fine even after a full day out.  If you usually bring an extra layer of clothing in your bag, wrapping the food in that will be just as good as an insulated bag.

I also second the suggestion about home-made cookies.  Homemade chocolate chip cookies with walnuts are much more filling and nutritious than storebought stuff. 

Sounds like mixing it up is the main thing.  Bananas and peanutbutter. Butter and peanutbutter.  Honey and peanutbutter.  Nutella and peanutbutter.  Cream cheese on a bagel.  Trail mix.  Baggie of cheerios.  Fresh stuff like peppers and carrots and grapes.  Leftovers definitely.  Man, if you've eaten enough pb & j to tile a patio, your hedonic threshold is definitely low enough to find cold leftovers amazing.  Consider adding in pricier foods if all you need is variety.  Like, maybe that peanutbutter sandwich is more palatable if beef jerky is your other snack.  Or consider canned food.  If you're really hungry, ravioli straight out of the can isn't too bad (yes, as you can see I have a glamorous life) and it feels more like a "meal" than pb & j.  Maybe convenience foods at your grocery store aren't so bad if they're on sale.  Like, sometimes packs of peanutbutter crackers or non-refrigerated pudding cups will be a good deal.  Maybe look into protein or weight-gain powder from the health store if your hunger is really bad?  You could also google terms for appalachian trail hiking and food to see what people recommend bringing (although that will be geared towards low-weight rather than low-cost but that might also help with your limited volume problem). 
« Last Edit: March 10, 2013, 08:29:55 AM by sheepstache »

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2013, 08:35:49 PM »
I find that if I make the foods extra flavorful - then that does a lot to keep me interested. burritos with hot sauce, roasted and salted nuts, no bake peanut butter, honey and oatmeal cookies, chocolate chips for dessert, salsa or hummus and chips, etc...

mustachecat

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2013, 09:39:39 AM »
I love tortilla espanola, which is a Spanish potato-and-egg frittata. They serve it room temperature there. Actually, I like frittatas in general. Some people are leery of letting cooked eggs sit for longer than two hours (per FDA recommendations to avoid food poisoning), but I dunno, the chances of salmonella are very low to begin, I'm young and healthy, so I'll happily take my chances.

Japanese onigiri are great, too: triangular rice balls stuffed with something (I like canned tuna and mayo; salted salmon is popular too) and wrapped in nori seaweed paper.

bogart

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2013, 07:37:18 PM »
Some people are leery of letting cooked eggs sit for longer than two hours (per FDA recommendations to avoid food poisoning), but I dunno, the chances of salmonella are very low to begin, I'm young and healthy, so I'll happily take my chances.


This mystifies me -- not the decision to take your chances, I get that, the idea that leaving a (-n adequately) cooked egg out puts one at risk of salmonella.  Does the FDA really say this, and can it possibly be true?  I'm not being intentionally difficult, I really don't understand this.  Eggs carry a risk of salmonella because raw eggs can get contaminated with it, and undercooked (or raw) eggs may still have it on them, I get that.  But why on earth/how would a (well) cooked egg be at risk of transmitting salmonella?  It's not going to spontaneously re-generate on an egg any more than it would spontaneously generate on a Twinkie, or my hand.

Mystified.

Now, that a cooked egg that's left out (or for that matter refrigerated if you wait long enough) will eventually get gross and inedible, sure.  I've done my own research on that.  But it's not the kind of grossness that sneaks up on you, you can tell!

Bakari

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2013, 08:45:10 PM »
Your right, a cooked egg can't have salmonella, I think this misconception is from misunderstanding bacteriology and confusing salmonella from raw eggs with regular old food poisoning, which you can get from any food that gets left out too long.  I've gotten it from a soup that had no meat, egg, or dairy in it, which was just left out maybe 12 hours or so.
It sucked, but it doesn't stop me from eating left overs that were left out all night all the time...

mustachecat

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2013, 08:28:42 AM »
Oops--I misspoke (er, mistyped). The FDA doesn't specify salmonella as a risk for cooked eggs left out for more than two hours, just "bacteria." Sorry for the confusion!

No Name Guy

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2013, 05:58:55 PM »
Long distance hikers have learned some items need no refrigeration.  For example, if you're sick of PB&J, then change to salami and cheese.  Neither will spoil in the pack for at least 5 days in 100 degree heat  - been there done that on a thru hike on the PCT.  Yeah, they'll get a bit greasy in that kind of heat, but there's not enough water plus there is enough salt to inhibit significant bacteria growth.  Salami and cheddar cheese on bagels was lunch for 5 months and it held up well in the desert heat.  I mailed some forward to post office only supply stop a couple weeks before I got there and here I am with no adverse effects.  In general, harder cheeses hold up better than softer ones - I didn't care for Parmesan on the sandwiches, so I went with cheddar.

Another item that survives out of refrigeration for a bit, actually, is mayo - yes, yes...back in the day it was dangerous with raw eggs, but modern mayo also has vinegar to adjust the PH such that bacteria don't grow well (learned this nugget from a fellow hiker who used to do health department restaurant inspections pre-hike).  So you could bring some in a small container, along with foil pack tuna and bread and have a tuna salad sandwich.  Have some thinly sliced celery for flavor and crunch and yum.

Cooked bacon will also survive 5 to 10 hours out of the fridge - I hear a BLT in your future (I've used it during adventure races and damn it tastes good at hour 15).  We also do typical lunch meat type sandwiches for the races - no problems carrying them for hours other than them getting mashed in the pack.

freelancerNfulltimer

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2013, 08:07:34 PM »
Quote
I do try to bring a few staples with me each day: a jar of nuts and raisins; a banana; a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. These are my subsistence foods. Nothing against them, but they are getting a little old...

Personally, all of those food items would temporarily fill me up and then leave me really hungry in an hour. I found after switching to a very low carb diet that, though each indiviual item may cost more, my grocery bill is lower because I don't have to eat as much or as often.

If you're not afraid of fat, and not dairy intolerant try drinking a little cream as a snack. That would keep me full forever and I can get many "snacks" out of a half-pint. Try slicing some salami into small snack bag portions. Technically nuts are low-carb but I find myself eating way too many of them in one sitting and not getting full.

Try an experiment and avoid meals with grains, sugars and starches (read labels) for two weeks and then see if you find yourself fuller and you may lose all desire to snack. If may not work for you, but for many this works really well.

babysteps

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Re: "Out-and-About" Food
« Reply #23 on: March 12, 2013, 09:23:31 AM »
I find that if I make the foods extra flavorful - then that does a lot to keep me interested. burritos with hot sauce, roasted and salted nuts, no bake peanut butter, honey and oatmeal cookies, chocolate chips for dessert, salsa or hummus and chips, etc...

Me too :)

Well, for some foods anyway.  Yesterday spouse made plain oatmeal, he had with cream, I had with chopped raw ginger & garlic.   My lunch chicken thigh I eat plain, no seasoning at all... 

I like chinese 5 spice to amp up plain yogurt.  Maybe I just like spicy at breakfast to get me going since I don't drink coffee or other caffeine ;)