Do it for Charlie Trotter

November 12, 2013 | by Fred Schaaf

With the recent passing of Charlie Trotter, a true Chicago icon and food pioneer, I wanted to focus my post on food. Charlie’s passion for creating one-of-a-kind dishes inspired me to write about my love of food and the role it plays in my daily life.

Charlie Trotter

Now, in no way am I a foodie or culinary master—but I do enjoy cooking and eating. Besides the delicious satisfaction of creating and eating a great homemade meal, one huge bonus about cooking is that I always have next day’s lunch prepared. (Yep, I am a lover of leftovers.)

Even though it might not be the cool thing to do, I’ve always been the person to bring a bagged lunch to work. For me, it’s a good way to save money, since lunch tabs do easily add up. Mark Bittman recently wrote an article in the New York Times about changing the way we think about bringing lunch to work, and I completely agree with him; we need to fix how people think about brown-bagging it.

Brown Bag Lunch

Bringing your lunch to work does not have to be a sad or shunned thing to do. Here are some of my tips to bringing in your lunch.

Why make just one?

Growing up in California, I ate my fair share of burritos in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco. There’s nothing like a perfect meal wrapped into a massive tortilla. Every so often I make a couple dozen of my own and put them in the freezer. Make them anyway you want! Throw in dinner leftovers with some beans, rice and salsa and wrap it up. Now, any time I can’t think of what to take for lunch, I just grab a burrito and know it is cheaper and better than Chipotle (and a lot less salty).


Order ahead.

You can either eat leftovers or not. (But you should.) By eating leftovers, your budget will be happier, and your mother will not have to remind you about wasting food and those starving children in Ethiopia. If you are ordering some delivery for dinner, think about extra for lunch tomorrow. Does it make sense to get a large pizza instead of a medium if lunch is covered for tomorrow too? And if you are ordering Thai food maybe you should get a large portion instead of a small.

Pre-made lunch.

I am not a fan of Trader Joe’s, but several people I’ve worked with like going there and buying pre-made salads and soups for the week. Bring them to work on Monday and then lunches are taken care of for the week. (Whole Foods also has some good options, as do many supermarkets and grocers.)

Remember your add-ons.

Things that keep are quick to grab on your way out the door. You might be running late in the morning, but there is always time to grab a piece of fruit, hunk of bread, block of cheese and some herbs. If those options came with a glass of wine, you might find yourself paying a good amount at the new local hip restaurant. So why not enjoy it at work? (Minus the lunchtime alcohol consumption.)

French Bread

Don’t be a stinky co-worker.

Remember, it is always a bad idea to microwave fish at work. Leave stinky food at home. Don’t open a can of tuna at work. Open it at home, mix it up any way you want and then bring it in to work for lunch…in a sealed container. Then at lunchtime you can place it on your bread with kale or spinach and not annoy anyone.

No Fish

We all can’t be world renown chefs like Charlie Trotter, and we all don’t have to be foodies, but we can all learn to love lunch at work without going broke in the process. If you need extra motivation for packing your lunch, let us know and we can send you one of our totally hip BatesMeron lunch totes (while supplies last).


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