The Brian Lehrer Show discusses brown bag lunching

posted in: Ruminations | 10

This week on WNYC, the Brian Lehrer Show has been crowdsourcing for bagged lunch suggestions. I’m a great fan of the show’s crowdsourcing projects (remember the grocery store prices map?), and this one is no exception. No longer your grade-school sack filled with a cold cut sandwich, banana and note from Mom (okay, I never got those either… sniff), brought-from-home lunches are a trend in offices these days that can be as satisfying as the next-door sandwich shop — or, as I like to believe, more so.

For the last of the weeklong series of segments with budget and brown-bagging experts of sorts, I’ll be joining Kate McDonough, editor of The City Cook tomorrow on the show from 11:30-11:45am EST, to dish some tasty and affordable bring-from-home lunching advice. Since so many terrific suggestions have already been offered, I hope I can add to the chorus with a few unique food options. We’ll see how it goes!

So, are your sandwiches starting to get the most of your creativity? Penne alla vodkas filling you up too fast, too soon in the day? I hope some of these less predictably brown bag-worthy recipes from the archives might carry you through the workday deliciously. Also, I don’t know about you, but I just about go crazy without a snack at some point. Aside from straight-up apples, carrots and other fruit and vegetables, here are a few favorite sides I like to bring along, too, as a ward against the snack vending machine. Please feel free to suggest some of yours!


Wild Dandelion Turnovers
Asparagus and Okra Maki Rolls
Fresh Veggie Korean Pancake
Za’atar Bread with Parsley and Feta
Red Pepper, Feta and Basil Pitzas

Sides and snacks:

Simply Roasted Beets
Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Almonds
Sundried Tomato-Braised Green Bean

2/27 update! Listen to the webcast of the segment

10 Responses

  1. HC

    I love bringing my lunch, but my one problem is carrying it all to work and school. When thinking about what to offer as advice take that into consideration. I end up bringing a sandwich a lot because it takes up less space in the bag! I often already have a big bag filled with books and papers and other things and to put some tupperware in there too can make it too much to carry.


  2. Jenna

    Did you intentionally make all the suggestions vegetarian? For me, I really need some protein (usually meat) to fill me up till dinner time. If I only have a meal of carbs and veggies, I find myself hungry a few hours later, and needing a snack (so it was good you have some snack suggestions).

    The pancake might be enough protein because of the eggs, but I find that my body really stays full longer when I eat some animal protein, and for a brown bag lunch, that almost always takes the form of a sandwich. (This was one of the reasons I stopped being a vegetarian)

    One of my favorite lunch suggestions as an alternative to the sandwich, is a Japanese rice ball or Onigiri. You can stuff them w/ some tuna fish, teriyaki chicken, or even veggies, and then wrapped up with some seaweed (at lunchtime). they make a festive and interesting lunch. The only thing is I find you have to make them the morning you plan to eat them, or else the rice gets funky.

  3. Matthew

    Hey, you’re on the original wireless, radio! Congratulations.

  4. haha

    rayman noodles!

  5. Monique

    Great post! I bring my lunch to work 99% of the time and in times like these, who can afford to buy a $10 lunch everyday!?!?
    It was a pleasure meeting you the other night at the Rachel event!
    Hope to bump into you again soon.

  6. cathy

    Thanks all! Glad you enjoyed the WNYC series and thanks for all the lunching tips.
    Jenna: Whoops, I didn’t realize all those suggestions were lacking in protein, thanks for pointing that out! Your onigiri ideas sound amazing, hope to dabble with that soon!

  7. Meredith

    I love to make mini frittatas and turkey loafs in muffin tins. My husband takes two per meal and I take one. I also roast vegetables and we’ll each take a serving of those. Chilis and hearty bean based soups are great as well.

    I’ve been brown bagging it since the new year and have yet to bring a sandwich or a (shudder) frozen processed meal.

  8. Jennifer

    We “brown bag” every week! We make a big pot of something on Sunday for lunches. I love leftovers. We do cold peanut noodle salads, baked pastas, curries, chilies, yogurt and homemade granola, etc. I’m really lazy as far as lunches, though… I don’t want to do any more work than scoop it from a pan to a pyrex!

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