Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bring Your Lunch: Quick and Tasty Wallet-Friendly Lunches for Grown-ups by Califia Suntree (2014)

All my life I have been a dedicated brown bagger. In part, this is because I hate the packaging and single-use items involved in buying lunch, but also because I  know that if I take my own food, I can control how healthy it is and it is definitely much cheaper to take your own lunch. However, I generally only take leftovers and sandwiches and, admittedly, it can get really boring real fast. Sometimes it's hard to eat the same leftovers three days in a row even knowing it's healthier, cheaper and more ecologically friendly. I have borrowed cookbooks that specifically deal with lunch foods but they tend to be either aimed at kids and feature lots of kids food or really meat heavy and totally impractical for days when I am shlepping around campus without access to a fridge or a microwave. So, when I saw this title on Netgalley, I was intrigued by the "for Grown-ups" specified in the title but, due to past experience, not overly hopeful about its impact on my life.

I am not sorry to say I was completely wrong. This cookbook is fantastic! There's an extensive opening section on the best ways to store and transport lunch food that I read including stuff I didn't know existed (there are sandwich-shaped glass containers durable enough to carry around with you!) as well as tips for reusing and upcycling stuff you have already. There's a huge variety in the recipes and they're very adaptable, which is great because it means I can use what I have rather than buy items that I use once or twice but then sit in the fridge or pantry staring balefully at me until I eventually throw them out. It's veg-friendly, with a strong focus placed on vegetable-based recipes, which is good even for dedicated omnivores. The best feature of the book, however, is in its descriptions of how to use the pantry and freezer to provide nutritious, delicious lunches. I have already made the Sweet Potato and Corn Empanadas and I can verify that they were delicious from the fridge the day following being made and just as good from the freezer three days later. The lunch mezze idea is honestly brilliant (how did I not think of that already?) and I am making the frozen burritos and pickled veggies over the weekend.

The final aspect of this book that really sold me was its functionality as an ebook. There are links everywhere to relevant sections which make it really easy to navigate the text. While I have adopted electronic fiction without open arms, I have always been a hardcopy girl for my recipe books. I will definitely rethink that from now on after seeing how well hyperlinks can work with this kind of material.

My only quibble with the book is that the measurements are imperial rather than metrics (Americans, metric really is the best! Come and join the rest of the world...). I therefore give this book five almost unqualified stars. I strongly recommend it to everyone. I just need to figure out how to gift an ebook and, once I do, everyone I know will be getting this for Christmas.

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