This month one of the challenges for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Ambassadors is to build a better lunch box. I am sure that when they were thinking about the challenge they were thinking about all the packed lunches that were going to school with all the kids starting their school year in September.
Well I suppose it could also apply to people that return to work after their summer vacations but for me since I am not working right now my back to school like big event is TIFF - Toronto International Film Festival. It happens every September and this is my 14th year doing it. I am one of a special group of people that take care of guests at Roy Thompson Hall during the festival. I am on a team of approx. 30 people who put in their time evenings and weekends, most of the team have full time jobs and spend their free time at Tiff every September. We are a pretty close group of people. The Tiff staff know that we travel in packs. Speaking of packs. I decided to focus my building a better lunchbox to building grab and go food to eat before, during and after Tiff.
My shifts start generally around 5:30pm and it takes me approx. 45 min. to an hour on the subway to get there so I find it difficult to eat dinner before I have to go to my shift.
This year I have stocked my fridge with grab and go foods. Things that I can either just eat quickly before I leave the house or things that I can bring with me if I am hungry during a break. We can't store our food in fridges or anything and generally we try and go to a restaurant close by when we have a break but sometimes it's just not possible to eat healthy. This year I am trying to have a variety of foods ready for any craving I may have. The other thing all of this food is prepped for is in the event that I get home late at night and I am starving and just need something quick to tide me over before I crash.
Doing Tiff gets pretty expensive when we, as in some of my team go out to eat at a restaurant every night. I have committed to 8 shifts this year so that's eating out 8 times in 1 week. Because I am not working right now I don't have that kind of money this year so this is my way of saving a little bit of time and money and trying to get some healthy food in here and there.
If you have ever DONE TIFF you know that it is exhausting. I find that after day 4 I start to feel tired because the first 4 days of the festival are the craziest. If I don't get nutrition in there somewhere I just peter out before the end of the festival and just don't have the energy to see films when I am off shift.
So here are some of my GRAB and GO foods that I have lined up so far for the first few days of Tiff.
All of these things can be applied to your kids lunches or even your workday lunches. Prep on a sunday and have a few days worth of lunch bits to put together fresh everyday.
Carrot sticks, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes and cooked beets.
For quick salads I have already cut and prepped Kale. It lasts longer than romaine and has max. nutrition. You can also make some kale chips for quick snacks.
Cut up strawberries, cut up melon, blueberries, nectarines or peaches, apples.
Sliced deli meats like salami, mortadella and cheeses like provolone, cheddar and cream or goat cheese or whatever you like. Anything you can make a sandwich with quickly.
I have also made up a container of tuna salad for quick prep of tuna sandwiches.
Ready to eat foods:
I made a batch of potato salad and will probably make some boiled eggs and maybe a macaroni salad or mac and cheese. Things that can either be eaten cold or a quick heat up.
I try and stay away from the film festival popcorn. It's really high in sodium and saturated fats and it doesn't agree with me, so I rarely eat it even if it's the only thing available when we are watching a movie. This is where having some snacks in your bag comes in handy. A few of the snacks I have right now are Clif bars, some german chocolates, some candied nuts and some roasted seaweed.
This covers all the bases for sweet, salty, healthy and quick.
Some of my fellow team members have a boat load of snacks that they line up before the festival. I generally prefer to just have a meal but this year I am prepared to keep my energy up during the festival.
If I have some time I will try and prep a few more things like energy bars or trail mix or other prepared foods. But this is the start of a week of Starving Foodie at Tiff.