Silicone baking cups & salmon box lunches
Silicone cupcake liners work well as removable food cups in packed lunches, separating foods to keep different textures and flavors from mingling. Because the cups are made of silicone, they’re flexible and fit into odd spaces, with the added benefit of being reusable. They come in all sorts of fun shapes, sizes and colors to fit a variety of food and containers (click for a representative sample of silicone baking cups ). Housewares, kitchen, and crafts stores such as Michael’s often sell them — if you find a coupon you can bring down the initial cost as well as save on the cost of disposable paper cups down the line. I finally found the large ones for a good price at Bed Bath & Beyond and used a 20% off coupon. Hooray, I’m finally a little greener!
Contents of husband’s lunch: Slow-cooked salmon (simple recipe here) with a container of sweet-hot Nonya sambal sauce, chicken fried rice, blueberries, and salad with mango, strawberry tree fruit (a.k.a. arbutus berries) and poppy seed dressing.
Morning prep time: 7 minutes, using leftover salmon, fried rice (from San Francisco’s popular Ton Kiang restaurant), torn lettuce, and a pre-filled sauce container with salad dressing to save time. In the morning I just cut the mango and arbutus berries, briefly microwaved the fried rice to restore the texture, and packed everything together.
Packing: The silicone baking cup kept the fried rice away from the salad and blueberries, and was tough enough to stand up to salad dressing once the salad was dressed (more durable than a paper cupcake liner). There are two layers of salmon, one on top of the other. Packed in a 650ml Leaflet box with movable divider (similar to the 500ml version below), and both sauces in small containers.
Equipment: The standard-size silicon baking cups (Wilton brand) were 12 for US$6 at Bed Bath & Beyond (use their omnipresent 20% off coupon and it gets even more reasonable). I got the four pastel mini cups as a set for US$1.50 at Daiso in Daly City (Japanese dollar store with branches internationally).
Contents of my lunch: Same as my husband’s, but with pesto sauce instead of sambal, and no salad.
Morning prep time: 5 minutes.
Packing: A little Clickety Clack sauce container holds the pesto sauce, and the lunch is packed in a 500ml Leaflet box with movable divider.
Contents of preschooler lunch: Roast chicken drumstick, chicken breast, strawberry tree fruit, mango, blueberries, and fried rice. I wrapped the end of the drumstick in decorative aluminum foil to create a clean “handle” (similar lunch and foil details are here).
Morning prep time: 5 minutes.
Packing: I included a small Anpanman pick for the chicken breast and mangos, and packed a spoon on the side for the rice. The silicone cup squished nicely into the available space to hold the fruit without touching the chicken. Packed in two tiers (280ml and 180ml) of a four-tier nesting Thomas the Tank Engine bento box set.