What do you make for lunch? Let us know and get advice from Melissa Clark!

Friday, April 05, 2013

Lunch (Bunches and Bits {Karina}/flickr)

Brown bag lunches can be pretty boring, but New York Times Dining Section columnist and cookbook writer Melissa Clark is here to help! She shares ideas for how to make lunch more creative and delicious—and how to transform leftovers into lunch. Her most recent cookbook is Cook This Now: 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can't Wait to Make.

Ask questions or share your suggestions for turning leftovers into lunch or how to improve your brown-bag lunch habits!


Melissa Clark

Comments [50]


Me too! Please post muffin recipe.

Apr. 12 2013 12:28 PM

Another plea for her muffins.

Apr. 11 2013 11:41 PM
Andrea from manhattan

Please post the muffin recipe for your kid's lunches on the show page! I can't find it on facebook, or provide link to the facebook page - there are a few pages that come up when I search and i can't find it. thanks!

Apr. 08 2013 12:15 PM
Cheryl from NYC

the beet and bulgur salad was fabulous. I had it with dinner last night and leftovers for lunch today.

Apr. 05 2013 02:20 PM

An easy and nutritious lunch is a plate full of mixed greens, no dressing, with a protein in the middle (cottage cheese, humus, other legumes, tuna, chicken). You can vary the protein to suit your tastes. In the summer, I love a salad of red cabbage with olive oil, fresh tomato and cucumber, garbanzo beans and feta cheese.

Apr. 05 2013 01:34 PM

More to the point:

"The lure of Asian authenticity is part of the appeal. Some American consumers believe sriracha (properly pronounced SIR-rotch-ah) to be a Thai sauce. Others think it is Vietnamese. The truth is that sriracha, as manufactured by Huy Fong Foods, may be best understood as an American sauce, a polyglot purée with roots in different places and peoples."

Apr. 05 2013 12:43 PM

..."David Tran's recipe was modeled and named after the local hot sauces in Sri Racha, Thailand.

Tran began selling the sauce out of the back of his van and as the popularity of the sauce grew, Huy Fong Foods was born. The company grew swiftly and today over 10 million bottles of Huy Fong Foods Sriracha Sauce are sold every year."

Apr. 05 2013 12:42 PM
Brooke from Brooklyn

I also think almond butter is SUCH a lifesaver...especially with a banana for breakfast.

Apr. 05 2013 12:40 PM
The Truth from Becky

see what i mean..

Apr. 05 2013 12:39 PM
Don from east village

Toaster-Oven instead of Micro-wave ----> refreshes & crisps up any left-over!!!

Apr. 05 2013 12:39 PM
Harvey (Manhattan) from New York, NY

My suggestions for convenience and time-saving:
1. As has been indicated, rely on your microwave (for plant-based stuff) a lot.
2. Bags of frozen veggies (including frozen chopped onions) -- create a medley for each meal by simply defrosting them or cooking them in the microwave (frozen is as "fresh" and nutritious as the real fresh).
3. Rely on one-dish stews.
4. Prepare a one-week supply of grains (barley, couscous, quinoa, for ex.
5. Cans of sliced mushrooms.
6. Uncooked sliced pepper and zucchini to add to your dishes.

Apr. 05 2013 12:38 PM
Deborah from NYC

Does Melissa actually read these?
So many good suggestions today but I was really surprised that I didn't hear a single mention of reduced-sodium anything. So many of Melissa's suggestions for our portable pantries were salt-related: soy sauce, capers, sea salt, etc. This just 3 days after the eye opening article by Jane Brody of The NY Times about sodium awareness. Why not add what we might stock in our portable pantries that taste good while specifically trying to reduce our addiction to saltiness?

Apr. 05 2013 12:38 PM
Janine from Manhattan

I pack my lunch every night. I make extra dinner and save it for next day. The area where my office is does not offer many (healthy) options. It's great to know what I'll be eating the next day, where it came from and that most of all, it's healthy! I usually make one protein and 2-3 vegetables sautee.
I also soak my oatmeal the night before and make it the next morning and a couple of hard boiled eggs.
It's great to know that there are many other people who do it too!

Apr. 05 2013 12:38 PM
Jil from New York City

I'm looking at my bottle of Sriracha (the rooster one from California) and there are no tomatoes in there. The red is from the red chili peppers.

But on another note -- my favorite mayo blend is a chipotle mayo. Just stir in some of the sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo (I freeze the rest of the can for other use) and add a little fresh lime juice. You can add chopped scallions if you like. It's wonderful on sandwiches, as a sauce for fish or poultry, a dip for veggies, or dozens of other uses.

My other favorite item to jazz up leftovers is chopped pickled jalapenos.

Apr. 05 2013 12:37 PM
Khorshed Randeria from Fairfield, CT

A condiment that is awesome for sandwiches is Corriander Chutney from any Indian store. Add that to mayonnaise and it's great. Add it to yogurt and it makes a wonderful dip for samosas!

Apr. 05 2013 12:36 PM
More info on Sriracha from NY

Apr. 05 2013 12:36 PM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

For those on the road or thatwant to find sustainable food, use the Eat Well Guide.

Eat Well Everywhere

Planning a trip? Let the Eat Well Guide help you find local, sustainable, and organic food wherever you go.
And if you choose to sign up, you can also save your search results as a downloadable pdf. Just click on the create-a-guide button
after you complete your search.

Apr. 05 2013 12:35 PM

Sriracha sauce is produced by Huy Fong Foods in California - created by Chinese-Vietnamese founder David Tran in 1980.

Look it up.

Apr. 05 2013 12:35 PM
Sriracha from New York

Sriracha is Thai. But the Sriracha that is well-known in America (Huy Fong brand, with the rooster on the bottle), is actually created by an ethnic Chinese, Vietnamese immigrant in Los Angeles.

Apr. 05 2013 12:33 PM
Elaine from sparta, nj

I make "balsamic onions". I roast 3 - 4 red onions (at a time)in rings in the oven at 400 F for 20 mins or so until carmelized. First I bathe them in balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic powder, then I add the olive oil. They smell heavenly when they roast.
These onions last for 10 days in the refridgerator and can be chopped onto any sandwich, soup or salad. My favorite is a sandwich with pesto, onions, mozzarella, and red roasted pepper.

Apr. 05 2013 12:33 PM
The Truth from Becky

Excuse me, it's used in Vietnamese,Thai food it's from Thailand

Apr. 05 2013 12:32 PM
The Truth from Becky

Everyone jumping on the sriracha band wagon's VIETMAMESE

Apr. 05 2013 12:31 PM
janet from nyc

I'm totally a part of the bento craze. My favorite thing to make is bittman's vegetarian burgers but make tablespoon patties. I'll wrap batches of four and freeze them for future lunches.

Apr. 05 2013 12:30 PM

I LOVE food, nutrition and the politics of food...and even work in the food industry!!

This is why I am so thoroughly disappointed at the vapidity of segments like THIS!!

Apr. 05 2013 12:28 PM
Anni from Manhattan

I am SO over packing lunches for my kids. My younger ones are at a Manhattan elementary school that has a lot of parent resources to bring in Wellness in the Schools with a real chef and revamp menu & recipes; I rarely have to have pack lunch for them and I am grateful every day. HOWEVER, our middle school has the standard NYC Dept of Ed menu and it is horrifying, disgusting, and a waste. No one wants to eat that food (and kids in fact toss out much of it after being 'required' to take it from the server). Whether I shop and my kid makes lunch or I do both, I just wish I did not have to think about it any more. NYC should be held responsible for serving children healthy food in the schools.

Apr. 05 2013 12:28 PM
Kim Chase

How does Melissa make the muffins she puts in her daughter's
lunch everyday? I have a 2 year old & I would
love the recipe
Thank you

Apr. 05 2013 12:27 PM
ryan from Manhattan

Melissa Clark's culinary wisdom is to carry around individual packets of mayo and squirt it onto your left-overs? Is Melissa Clark a ten-year old boy who lives on an RV?

Apr. 05 2013 12:26 PM


I think most of us might get it by now that food's not one of your topics

Apr. 05 2013 12:25 PM
nilo from Florence, Italy

Artichoke hearts in olive oil really perk up any salad or sandwich.

Later on the grain segment, discuss Kamut, please, which makes great bread, the white feels surprisingly whole grain.

Apr. 05 2013 12:24 PM


I think we are listening to humans leading ordinary lives and sharing a really fun part of them - enjoying - isn't that what meals are for? Melissa Clark is a great role model for this, I think!

Apr. 05 2013 12:23 PM
Katherine Fennelly from Irvington, NY

I use coriander chutney instead of mayo. It's wonderful on chicken or meat in a sandwich.

Apr. 05 2013 12:23 PM
k from brooklyn

"hording mayo packets"?? These packets are incredibly wasteful generating such landfill. This advice is not environmentally friendly at all! Melissa, I love you but please consider the environment when you dispense your advice and in your own habits.

Apr. 05 2013 12:23 PM
Anin from New York

In addition to sea salt, pepper, olive oil, tabasco, sriracha and honey, I also keep a jar of almond or peanut butter, various dried fruits that I can add to my cereal/oatmeal/yogurt/salad, soy sauce and some sesame oil (great on fresh veggies).

Pantry at my desk also includes instant oatmeal, box of cereal, new bag of mini bagels every week.

Apr. 05 2013 12:23 PM

...flakey sea salt, indeed.

Apr. 05 2013 12:20 PM
Rachel dewan from Ramsey nj

Can she post the recipe for the muffins she makes for her daughter? Would love to have it!

Apr. 05 2013 12:19 PM


Apr. 05 2013 12:19 PM
deborah from croton-on-hudson, ny

Couldn't resist. What Frances gets for school lunch in Bread and Jam for Frances after she's od'd on jam:
"I have a thermos bottle with cream of tomato soup," she said. "And a lobster-salad sandwich on thin slices of white bread. I have celery, carrot sticks, and black olives, and a little cardboard shaker of salt for the celery. And two plums and a tiny basket of cherries. And vanilla pudding with chocolate sprinkles and a spoon to eat it with."

As her friend Albert says, "That's a good lunch."

Apr. 05 2013 12:18 PM

Real Aioli

Apr. 05 2013 12:18 PM
Robert from Manhattan

I wish I could get paid to state and write about the obvious... Has society gotten so apathetic that one cannot conceive and make their own lunch?

Apr. 05 2013 12:18 PM
lafou from nyc

This week, it is a variation on Old School Baked Ziti, frozen into single servings:

Fresh fusilli from pizza shop
tomato sauce
ricotta w/egg, herbs
hickory smoked mozzerella, shredded
chard, chopped and sauteed
Mix it up and bake it.

Heat in office microwave. The smoked mozzerella might be too fragrant for some people, though.

Apr. 05 2013 12:17 PM
Sarah from Lincoln center

I work in an environment where everyone takes lunch at the same time and we all eat together at a large work table. Among us we have stashes of salt, pepper, olive oil, balsamic, hot sauce, and even a block of asiago with a mini grater. Fresh grated cheese perks up almost any microwaved leftover.

Apr. 05 2013 12:17 PM
karol from brooklyn

what type of tupperware does melissa recommend for bringing leftovers? i'm trying to do away with microwaveable plastic.

Apr. 05 2013 12:15 PM
susan from Manhattan

My boyfriend often cooks your meals from the NY Times. We really love your recipes, and find them really interesting to eat.

I bring my lunch every day. Usually a salad. I usually add raisins- and then something salty - like feta cheese or tuna and balsamic to my salads. It creates a really satisfying, strong, contrast of sweet/salt. I keep olive oil and balsamic vinegar in the studio. And, Rye Crisps and Natural peanut butter if I need a crunchy snack.

Apr. 05 2013 12:15 PM
Rachel from Sunset Park

We eat a lot of chicken, so I make husband chicken wraps. My favorites are chicken, sliced apple, cranberries, walnuts and little range dressing.

Another is a chicken wrap with canned black beans, corn, roasted red peppers and sometimes I put lettuce with it.

If we have pork or filet mignon that is what he get in his wrap.

Apr. 05 2013 12:15 PM
michele from westchester

The farro salad posted starts with rutabaga. Is it supposed to read "sweet potato" instead?

Apr. 05 2013 12:14 PM
Amie from Brooklyn

Thank you Melissa Clark for your truly fabulous recipes - your "date with a warm fish" is a mainstay in our house. Did I just hear you describe your daughter as a picky eater? I preschooler who eats muffins made with beets and carrots? plus sour cream and berries? sounds pretty awesome to me. Love the show.

Apr. 05 2013 12:14 PM
Tony from UWS

My brother makes a really good habanero pepper relish and I mix it with mayo. It works great as a tartar sauce or as a sandwich condiment. yum....

Apr. 05 2013 12:14 PM
carolita from nyc

people laugh when I get my mini-shaker of cayenne pepper out of my handbag and sprinkle it on my soups or eggs, but I can't live without cayenne pepper. They sell mini shakers of condiments at Whole Foods, in their own brand. I keep mine in a baggy, as they can open inadvertently in a full and jostle-y handbag.

Apr. 05 2013 12:13 PM
Brooke from Brooklyn from Manhattan

Cholula and that beautiful balsamic glaze from Eataly!

Apr. 05 2013 12:12 PM
Sara B. from nyc

She made me think of the lunches that Frances and Albert packed in "Bread & Jam for Frances" ;)

Apr. 05 2013 12:11 PM

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