Author Topic: desk-drawer meals  (Read 12292 times)

nereo

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desk-drawer meals
« on: January 29, 2015, 06:07:55 AM »
Hello all

Lots of great threads on slow-cooker meals, budget meals, freezer-friendly meals, etc.  But I have a slightly different need.
Lately I've had an erratic schedule, and occasionally I find myself at work until 8pm.  The room with the communal fridge gets locked at 5pm, so I'm looking for any ideas for "meals" that I could keep unrefrigerated in my desk drawer for a week or more for these occasions. I've been relying on store-bought freeze-dried soup packs, but they're loaded with sodium and not particularly cheap.

I have a microwave and a water fountain during these late-night sessions.  No fridge or cooktop.

thoughts?
Edit: I already keep a CostCo bag of unsalted Almonds.  Looking for something 'more' than nuts and dried soups.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2015, 07:14:10 AM by nereo »

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2015, 06:21:13 AM »
Peanuts and other nuts are nutritious and healthy.  Peanut butter on crackers is always a winner (IMHO).  Hard boiled eggs keep a long time.  And you'd be surprised at how tasty some cold soups out of the can can taste.  Those are just a few ideas to get the thread started.

Good luck.

FoodieCycles

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2015, 06:45:42 AM »
Being stuck in the office and nothing to eat.. I feel you. I always have plain oatmeal and lots of toppings like raisins, cinnamon, peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts to mix things up- No prepackaged oatmeal packs! They're full of sugar, and quite a rip off. A few other things I have are:
-Fresh fruit- apples, banana's, and oranges in your drawer will last you.
-A few pieces of bread to make a peanut butter and banana sandwich or a good old PB&J.
-Protein powder that mixes with water.
-Soup is a toss up, finding a canned one I actually like is tricky. One I do like is Trader Joes Organic black bean. It's filling and heats well in the microwave (unlike ones with meat).

Good Luck! :)

MsPeacock

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2015, 06:54:57 AM »
Ramen + siracha.

Canned soup, as already mentioned. Or canned chili.

Crackers and peanut butter.

Canned tuna + crackers or bread

Nuts, fruit, cheese, etc.

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2015, 07:01:38 AM »
I know this isn't *technically* answering the question you asked, but could you pack a supper in an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack? 

If it gets eaten that night while you work late that's great (well, not great, unless you like working late.  but you're all set).  If you get to go home and eat at regular time, you've got tomorrow's lunch already packed and you're a step ahead.

humblefi

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2015, 07:08:27 AM »
+ To save money, I buy soup cartons from Tader Joes...a bit expensive, but I buy it when there are sales and compared to lunch money, it is saves quite a bit.
+ The second thing I have is a few boxes of noodle soups...ex: https://bishopsreviews.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/trader-joes-spring-onion-rice-noodle-soup-bowl/
It only needs hot water and comes in many diff flavors....good for a change.
+ Also, I have a couple of different cereal boxes....sometimes, I use them for dinner..but I keep the milk in the office refrigerator.

In the past, I have invested a tiny refrigerator for my office where the office refrigerator was not clean...I remember paying $90 for mine and it saved me lots of lunch money with it.

Hope it helps.

cashstasherat23

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2015, 07:15:31 AM »
Soup poured over some microwaveable rice
PB&J and a banana
Also vote for oatmeal, but sometimes when I want a bit more of a savory oatmeal, I will pour a little salt in it instead of sweet toppings
Salad with tinned tuna or similar toppings

nereo

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2015, 07:20:32 AM »
I know this isn't *technically* answering the question you asked, but could you pack a supper in an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack? 

I pack my lunch every day.  My problem is that I never know which days I'll need to work late until ~4-5pm.  Often something comes up as I thinking about packing up to leave.

Thanks for the suggestions so far everyone.  Crackers & peanut butter is a good idea.  I already have nuts (almonds) and dried cereal in my office, but without milk/yogurt it's a bit of a struggle to call it a 'meal'.  Oatmeal as suggested by several is also good.
 I lack access to a fridge late.  What i'm really hoping for is some ideas for things that would be more like a meal, that I could cook at home over the weekend and leave in my drawer for several days until needed.
Keep 'em coming!


plainjane

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2015, 07:35:54 AM »
I pack my lunch every day.  My problem is that I never know which days I'll need to work late until ~4-5pm.  Often something comes up as I thinking about packing up to leave.
[...]
I lack access to a fridge late.  What i'm really hoping for is some ideas for things that would be more like a meal, that I could cook at home over the weekend and leave in my drawer for several days until needed.
Keep 'em coming!

Home cooked and stable for several days at room temp seems really tough.  What about keeping some things in the fridge and pulling them out around 3 just in case?

nereo

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2015, 07:44:33 AM »
[...]
I lack access to a fridge late.  What i'm really hoping for is some ideas for things that would be more like a meal, that I could cook at home over the weekend and leave in my drawer for several days until needed.
Keep 'em coming!

Home cooked and stable for several days at room temp seems really tough.  What about keeping some things in the fridge and pulling them out around 3 just in case?
Yeah, it is tough and I've been stumped.  That's why I was hoping my fellow mustacherinos might have some ideas.
I could pull things out of the fridge around 3 'just in case', but then I'm left with a rather annoying situation - if I don't stay late I have to cart that food back home and then bring it BACK the following day.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Some times I'd be carting leftovers 3, 4, 5 times back and forth to work. Each time they'd warm up to room temp for 2-3 hours before I could put them back in the fridge, which is bad for food quality and safety (in most cases)

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2015, 08:22:35 AM »
How about coffee cup scrambled eggs? 

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/blogs/editor/2014/08/5-ways-to-make-egg-in-a-mug-in-90-seconds.html

Eggs are perfectly safe stored at room temperature.  The article I'm posting is from the UK where supermarkets typically store eggs out on a shelf instead of in fridge cases.  It's a longish article.  The independent study is at the end and supports my claim.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2421530/So-eggs-fridge-Scientists-crack-age-old-argument-chilled-room-temperature-best.html

Hot, savory, cheap, and filling - you might even want to spruce them up with some reconstituted veggies/seasonings from the soup mixes. :-)

historienne

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2015, 08:33:10 AM »

Eggs are perfectly safe stored at room temperature.  The article I'm posting is from the UK where supermarkets typically store eggs out on a shelf instead of in fridge cases.  It's a longish article.  The independent study is at the end and supports my claim.


Eggs are actually prepared differently for sale in the UK (and rest of the EU).  They are not washed, which leaves the natural protective coating intact.  Now, it's still possible that US eggs are fine to leave out, but you'd want a study conducted on washed eggs to show that.  The article does quote one other study, but without access to the full text of the original, I can't tell how the eggs they studied were prepared.

Capsu78

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2015, 08:40:51 AM »
I find Mountain House stuff to be surprisingly good. I would check out some websites dedicated to hiking and see what recipes they might suggest that interest you.  They are more into "meals" rather than gussied up snacks, as the their caloric needs are larger.

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2015, 08:50:58 AM »

Eggs are perfectly safe stored at room temperature.  The article I'm posting is from the UK where supermarkets typically store eggs out on a shelf instead of in fridge cases.  It's a longish article.  The independent study is at the end and supports my claim.


Eggs are actually prepared differently for sale in the UK (and rest of the EU).  They are not washed, which leaves the natural protective coating intact.  Now, it's still possible that US eggs are fine to leave out, but you'd want a study conducted on washed eggs to show that.  The article does quote one other study, but without access to the full text of the original, I can't tell how the eggs they studied were prepared.

http://www.businessinsider.com/should-you-refrigerate-eggs-2014-7

Well I'll be damned. Learn something new every day.  I've apparently been playing Russian roulette with my breakfast! lol

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2015, 09:56:57 AM »
Dried fruit is a good one.
Canned tuna is your friend too.
Dark chocolate (85%+, not that sugary crap) is something I keep in my desk at work.  It's super filling in a pinch, and also delicious.

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2015, 10:12:31 AM »
Canned vegetables aren't the most tasty items out there, but maybe some cans of green beans or corn and a peanut butter sandwich? (This is coming from the girl who will eat a whole can of green beans in one sitting, lol.  Storage of leftover veggies would be tricky. 

The no refrigeration has me stumped.  The only other thing I can think of is to keep a jar of mayo in the fridge and buy those vacuum-packed bags of tuna to keep at your desk with some bread.  When you find out at 4-5 that you'll be staying late, mix up a bowl of tuna and make a sandwich.  You can put leftover tuna and the mayo back in the fridge before they lock the door and keep the sandwich at your desk until you're ready to eat.   

yandz

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2015, 10:26:11 AM »
I keep homemade instant oatmeal mix in a container in my desk drawer (mix instant oats, chia seas, ground flax seeds, protein powder, anything else I feel like adding that I have in the house when making it) that can be mixed up in varying amounts with hot water from coffee maker. I also keep sunbutter which can be added to the oats for different flavor (I have peanut and nut allergies that limit protein options, I am jealous of your almonds). Other items that make appearances: dry cereal, dry fruit, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate.  Healthy + shelf stable - expensive pre-mades can be really tricky. Veggies are especially tricky and that is what I which I was eating more of in life. I just have to accept it for what it is - not my best meals, but reasonable calories to intake.  Good luck!

mlipps

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2015, 10:51:08 AM »
I like tuna in the pouches in my desk drawer because it doesn't have to be drained and you don't need a can opener.

I also love those pouches of Indian sides they sell at Trader Joes. The chickpea one is especially good and filling.

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2015, 12:37:33 PM »
Thermos.

Basically, put your hot supper into your (hot) Thermos in the morning, and if you're at work at 6, eat it and if not, take it home and your supper is already waiting for you.

Alternatively, bring a double portion of cold food for your lunch, heat it in the communal kitchen, dump half of it into the pre-heated Thermos, and eat that wherever you are at 6/7.

I know this doesn't work for the "leave in desk for a few days at a time" part but it's one more route, and allows you excellent nutrition on the cheap, nice warm cozy meals on long days and, on shorter days, a pre-made hot supper. Soup, stew, pasta, etc. Lives nicely in desk drawer for one long day.

boarder42

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2015, 12:46:50 PM »
dang you guys got me all excited about freeing up fridge space. 

then let me down b/c we cant leave eggs out here in the states.

i buy 5 dozen eggs a week... takes up a lot of fridge space since i purchase on sunday for the whole week. 


JoJo

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #20 on: January 29, 2015, 12:49:49 PM »
Do you not know by 4:45 each day if you'll be working late?

Why don't you freeze some leftovers in pyrex or the like.  Then set your work alarm clock for 4:45.  if you know you'll be working late, remove from freezer/fridge & then viola, it's ready to microwave a couple hours later.

jaye_p

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #21 on: January 29, 2015, 01:13:30 PM »
Do you have - or have access to -  a food dehydrator, and a way of boiling water at work?  If so, you could make up meals on your days off, dehydrate them, and then store them in your drawer until you need them.  Oftentimes you can create recipes that are packaged in a single heavy-duty baggie; you add boiling water and close the baggie, let the contents rehydrate, and voila - near-instant meal, as fancy as you want it!  A couple of books to check out if this interests you are _Lipsmackin' Vegetarian Backpackin'_ and _Meals in a Jar_ (not vegetarian).  Websites/blogs devoted to backpacking and climbing often post recipes like this too.

halftimer

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #22 on: January 29, 2015, 01:34:19 PM »
Some fruits and veg will be fine for days at a time out of the fridge.
-Sweet potato cooked in the microwave for 8 minutes (poke holes in it with fork) and cover with canned chilli or tomato sauce
-1 or 2 Carrots can be chopped and added to a can of white beans and a can of diced tomatoes and a spoon of paprika and heated in microwave to make stew (or do other veg instead)
-kettle soup: use dried noodles or a can of drained chickpeas and add whatever veg is in your drawer (brocolli, carrot, couscous, canned lentils or tuna and spices could all work)
http://thestonesoup.com/blog/2012/02/the-quickest-easiest-way-to-make-a-hot-meal-without-a-kitchen/
She recommends a combination of the following for kettle soup:
1. a mix of fresh veg, chopped finely so they heat up quicker.
2. something more substantial like chickpeas, couscous, canned lentils or noodles, cooked chicken, canned tuna, salami or chorizo.
3. seasonings for the ‘soup’. Soy sauce is a fav. You could also try spices, bullion powder, stock cubes, curry powder, curry pastes, miso, ketchup, tomato paste, pesto.

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #23 on: January 29, 2015, 01:42:04 PM »
dang you guys got me all excited about freeing up fridge space. 

then let me down b/c we cant leave eggs out here in the states.

i buy 5 dozen eggs a week... takes up a lot of fridge space since i purchase on sunday for the whole week.

Many apologies.  Womp womp womp woooooommmpp. [sad trombone]

hyla

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #24 on: January 29, 2015, 11:04:58 PM »
Those heat in the microwave pouches of Indian food (Tasty Bite is the brand I've seen).  They are pretty tasty and reasonably healthy as processed food goes (lots of lentils, veggies etc. in them), will keep indefinitely, and cook in a microwave. 

Cans of soup, and also keep a bowl and spoon to put the soup in.

I also like kippers (canned fish) on crackers but I know not everyone does, I certainly have friends who complain about the smell when I eat them!

Yes, I know this stuff is processed, but in your situation I think it's more realistic than dealing with carting leftovers back and forth or trying to figure out if you need to take stuff out of the freezer.  I try to stock up on the better stuff when it's on sale so I can eat good organic lentil canned soup etc. instead of campbells. 

Allie

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #25 on: January 29, 2015, 11:18:25 PM »
I used to have a couple cabinets at work dedicated to food.  It wasn't really for meals, I am a perpetual snacker.  My stash always included peanut butter, crackers, oatmeal packets, a couple cans of healthy bean soups, tortilla chips, cup of noodle (sometimes you just need a cup o noodle), and regular nuts.

My husband keeps trail mix and tuna pouches with crackers at his desk when he needs to work late.

Daisy

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #26 on: January 29, 2015, 11:24:21 PM »
Try roasted chick peas. There are plenty of recipes online. I've made it with garlic and chili powder. I took a batch once on a trip since I had some chick peas that were going to go bad. They lasted a while in a ziploc bag and don't need refrigeration.

Canned sardines or salmon are another possibility, if you get tired of tuna.

I'm not into dehydrating, but you could look into that as removing water from the food prevents it from spoiling.

You can make your own granola bars and add all sorts of things to it.

Avocadoes are filling and can sit at your desk all week.

I like to eat my nut butters with rice, corn, or quinoa cakes. These are thin crackers and you can buy them at Whole Foods. There's a lot of nutrition in that.

This is an interesting topic because I was planning a bike ride to a picnic for an outdoor concert and was wondering what kinds of food would be good to eat at room temperature. However, I am going from the house so I can just take something right out of the fridge and eat it an hour later at the picnic. Nothing I am taking on this would last a whole week without refrigeration.

Also a good topic for road trip eating. You can take perishable stuff the first day, but after that you need more long lasting food.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2015, 11:31:45 PM by Daisy »

Kaydedid

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #27 on: January 29, 2015, 11:28:24 PM »
Don't know about your canning skills, but I pressure can all sorts of things (soups, chili, strawberries, meat etc.) for my husband to keep at work for when he gets held over.  It usually works out much cheaper than the store, and is generally much healthier and tastier.

Please note that you do need a proper pressure canner to do any type of meat or low - acid veggie.

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #28 on: January 30, 2015, 12:13:23 AM »
I recommended this on another thread.  He makes 'bark' by dehydrating a lot of stuff I hadn't though of before such as mashed beans, sweet potato, etc.  Packs up meals for on the trail.  A few of those in your desk to rehydrate with hot water and you are good to go.

http://www.backpackingchef.com/

Here are meals already put up for you, just add water.  I got several of them once and liked all of them, although I wouldn't want to eat them every day for very long:

http://hawkvittles.com/

wealthviahealth

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #29 on: January 30, 2015, 03:36:00 AM »
Lara bars have been my go to for this.
They are healthy and taste great, I usually buy them when the boxes go on sale for $5 or less.

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #30 on: January 30, 2015, 07:08:51 AM »
Mayo packets (so you only need one at a time)
Canned tuna
Canned chicken
Relish packets
Mustard packets
Bread
Crackers
Cheese (the stuff from hickory farms, not the best but it does in a pinch)
Hickory farms sausage or shelf stable salami
Tortilla chips
Can of mexi corn
Can of black beans
Instant rice
Salsa packets
Canned fruit

From this you have 3 kinds of sandwiches, Nachoes, Mexican rice bowl, cheese and crackers with salami, a cheese dip with crackers, etc. 

If you keep fresh fruit in a bowl you've got fruit for a few days in advance.  Shelf stable veggies are harder, but you could haul out carrots at 3:30.

I get packets every time I order food....you never know when you might need them!



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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #31 on: January 30, 2015, 03:59:51 PM »
Get a mini fridge off Craigslist and put it under your desk.

Rural

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #32 on: January 30, 2015, 04:23:24 PM »
In my desk:


Jar of peanut butter
Loaf of bread (or crackers, depending on mood)
Squeeze jar of honey (for PB and honey sandwiches)
Bananas (alone or for PB and banana sandwiches)
Apples
Rolled oats
Raisins (a handful of these and a spoonful of peanut butter in oatmeal and you have a meal)
Packets of microwave Mac and cheese
Spicy Ramen cups for a junk food fix
One remaining packet of freeze dried Hanmburger helper for the microwave (strongly recommend avoiding, but can't bring myself to throw out)
Can of soup
Manual can opener

« Last Edit: January 30, 2015, 04:36:31 PM by Rural »

mama

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #33 on: January 30, 2015, 06:31:12 PM »
The barilla shelf stable pastas are actually pretty good in that the pasta is not mushy - obviously not dirt cheap at $2+ each for some pasta and marinara, but feels like a real meal because it's hot and is easy to store and requires no effort.
 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0076YVPKC?ie=UTF8&tag=etaleus101-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B0076YVPKC

(Finding that link I see tons of other shelf stable prepared foods.  If you're an otherwise young/healthy person and this is happening 1x/week or so, I'd spend $1.5-3 per meal and go the prepared route and not worry too much about salt).

Big box of favorite cereal and little boxes (8oz) of almond milk or shelf stable dairy milk.

The Indian food pouches from trader joe's or tasty bite or elsewhere is a good suggestion, too.

Tj's has good refried beans (salsa style I think they're called?) that you could dip tortilla chips in, they are seasoned and taste good at room temp and better microwaved.

Canned soup (plenty of these are healthy or low sodium), nuts, beef jerky, fresh fruit, dried fruit, applesauce, clif bars, cereal bars, granola bars, v8/tomato juice...

Edit: keep a big bowl at work so that it opens options to you for canned soups or cereal or other things.  Wash the next day or bring home with you to wash.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2015, 06:46:01 PM by mama »

Weedy Acres

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #34 on: January 30, 2015, 08:09:08 PM »
Mountain House freeze dried meals.  They reconstitute with water and taste great.  Buy a couple #10 cans and they'll last you for a few months of emergency dinners.

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #35 on: January 30, 2015, 08:54:27 PM »
Get a small rice cooker! Can cook rice or other grains in relatively short amount of time, then add flavourings including dried fish, dried meats, nori. You can buy vacuum sealed bags of Asian veggies, curries, lentils, etc. that are meant to be mixed with rice, although this would be pricey in the long run.

Write Thyme

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #36 on: January 30, 2015, 09:12:19 PM »
Crock Pot makes a lunch crock pot that warms your food. Not sure if this will help you though.

I recently heard of "energy bites." Recipe here:
http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/no-bake-energy-bites/

I made some of those today. They'd be good for a quick meal. Make some with protein powder.

MsPeacock

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #37 on: January 31, 2015, 05:35:08 AM »
I get MRE style Indian entrees at the local Indian grocery store. They are 1.50-2.00 each and really tasty. Cheaper and better than the ones available at Trader Joes. If you have an Indian grocery store near you it might be worth checking them out. Not homemade, but reasonably cheap for an emergency desk-stable meal.

LadyStache

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #38 on: January 31, 2015, 12:03:09 PM »
Baked potatoes. Maybe you can top it with salsa or bacon bits or something drawer-friendly.

mozar

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #39 on: February 01, 2015, 09:43:58 AM »
What I have done when my schedule is unpredictable is to go ahead and start eating a small meal at my desk every day at 5. So I would pack a lunch, snack, and an extra sandwich or whatever for 5pm. I tend to get hungry then anyway and if I'm still hungry when I get home I'll make something small. This will solve your having to carry it back and forth. Just eat it.

totoro

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #40 on: February 01, 2015, 11:24:30 AM »
Get a mini fridge off Craigslist and put it under your desk.

That is what I would do too.

nereo

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Re: desk-drawer meals
« Reply #41 on: February 02, 2015, 09:40:37 AM »
thanks all for the suggestions

I think for me the way to go is to start thinking more like a backpacker, and to stock up my desk drawer with a bit more than almonds and peanut-butter.  Expanding to include dried fruit, bread, oatmeal, dried sausage, rice-noodles etc. Since I do a lot of backpacking i'm kicking myself for not thinking in that direction sooner.

To answer some other comments - no a mini-fridge isn't an option for my workspace (sadly). Dehydrating is something I've been thinking about anyway, so now I'm more motivated.  I've found a few recipes online for homemade dehydrated soups that are much cheaper and have less sodium than store-bought brands.  A rice cooker is an interesting idea, but probably not practical for my space.
Also - good idea just to bring and eat a light snack every day at 5pm.  If I wind up going home I'll just have a smaller portion at dinner, and if I stay I can make it to 9pm before getting the 'hangrey's'.