Thursday, January 24, 2008

Box lunches to go

Ahh...did I mention I was also asked to make box lunches for the wedding party? They'll be stuck at the church for a long photography session.

My biggest obstacle has been packaging. I couldn't find a suitable paper box. Kroger's salad manager donated 16 clamshells to the project.

Will a turkey club wrap, Sun Chips, sliced fruit, dessert, and utensils fit? I'm hoping these ruffled coffee filters add a pretty touch--and a little extra capacity to the shallow compartments.

If anyone has tips for assembling gourmet box lunches on the cheap or suggestions for other non-messy foods, please share.


Anonymous said...

I hope you're not beingg asked to provide lunch on top of breakfast as your gift!!!!

What about an individually packaged cheese or mint?


Meredith said...

No, the bride's mother wants to pay me, but I don't feel comfortable with that since I'm not a caterer.

I think we've worked out that she will reimburse me for the supplies.

HoneyBaked Ham sells box lunches for $7.49 and Kroger does, too, for $4.99. I have to beat that price by at least a couple of dollars to have made this worth my while.

I also have two coolers for drinks, one for each dressing room.

Oh, anyone know where I can buy individual wet naps also known as moist towelettes?

MamaBirdEmma said...

In order to make more room in the box, you might be able to attach the utensils (wrapped in a napkin) to the top of the box with raffia or ribbon. For dessert, I might make a platter of individual cupcakes or something to make more room for the fruit and chips.

Anonymous said...

go to a resteraunt and ask to "borrow" a few handfuls of wet wipes :)

Anonymous said...

Instead of doing individual wet naps (which I find are very pricey), I'll shove a container of the pull-up wet naps purchased from Wal-mart or some other discount retailer in a cooler with our drinks. I just picked up two containers of these at our local Dollar General for $1.25 each - we have a road trip coming up next week and I love, love, love having them in the cooler to use when needed (especially since all those Purell type products are so drying on my hands, but I still like to have something to clean up with before or after eating/snacking/spilling).

Just an idea.

I can't wait for the re-cap on all of this!

JB from CT

n. said...

What about a pasta salad in lieu of the chips? I think having the utensils outside of the clamshell frees space.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and you could do pretzels instead of Sun Chips, if the Sun Chips aren't on sale. Another cheap filler we use on the go lunches is celery and carrot sticks, mostly for crunch factor.

Also, I don't know if you have a CVS in your area, but if you do M&Ms are BOGO making them $3.49 for two bags and you'll get a $3 ECB back if you buy two bags....making them two bags for
.49! Although they wouldn't be individually portioned right off the bat, maybe you could work those in some how and eliminate the need for utensils for the desert item.

JB in CT (again)

Anonymous said...

Kroger sells the individually wrapped moist towelettes.

September Lady

Meredith said...

Believe me, I would love to do a salad instead of chips, but the mother of the bride is very concerned that foods not be messy. Anything that could slip off a fork and get on a dress is prohibited.

I still feel obligated to include utensils just in case someone wants to use them, so I will take your suggestion and tie them on the top of each box. Aren't the napkins cute? The wedding color is red.

I found a 20 pack of individual Sun Chips for $5--much cheaper than the warehouse store price I saw--so I can nestle the package in the big compartment with the wrap.

Jenny's Vegcafe said...

I would skip the cut up fruit and go with grapes or something less messy.
Brownie bites without frosting would be a good, easy non-mess dessert and the dry grapes could share the same space. Make sure the chips aren't stinky like french onion or ranch so that there isn't a smell factor. You could make up a snack mix with peanuts, pretzels, raisins and a type of chip that would be less messy.
Just my .02.
What are you doing for condiments?

Rhonda said...

For our DD's wedding reception, we wrapped the clear plastic silverware in nice paper napkins, then tied each one with 1/2 inch polka dot ribbon in a bow.

It was not thrifty but they were so cute and we got lots of comments on the silverware.

Too bad you are not close to Oklahoma, we have about 40 of these little bundles left.

3beansalad said...

I'm surprised the mother of the bride wants individual box lunches. It seems like more hassle for you and more money for her. I'm surprised she doesn't just pre-order a sandwich tray from a local deli. That's what I did. It cost under $30 (in 2004). To each their own.

Dianna said...

I have found individual antibacterial wipes at the dollar store. They're a diaper bag staple for me, but I bet they would work well for this, too.

Anonymous said...

That is SO cute styled on top of the pony!

You might have more space if you arrange the wrap in one of the smaller compartments with the cut side (pinwheel) showing. A narrower wrap is easier to eat, too. That would leave the large compartment for less-expensive, bulkier chips, brownie bites.

My experience with bridal parties is that they are too excited to eat much and most sandwiches go to waste (most recently completed 2 weddings in the fall).

absolutely go with the NON-DRIPPY grapes, maybe also dried banana chips, dried cherries, prunes ("dried plums" more elegant name).

No carrots or celery, the cut edges become unappetizing too quickly. But you know that!

deb meyers

Amy said...

We have a funny photo of me sitting in my wedding dress shoving an Arby's Roast Beef sandwich down my throat. I ate it plain so that I wouldn't get my dress dirty and sipped a Sprite.

Could you maybe do a pasta salad instead of a sandwich? I think that would be a lot cheaper and easier to handle. You could do a slice of bread on the side and maybe some cut up veggies.

Keep it simple- no need to go overboard. I know that they will appreciate whatever you do!!

Anonymous said...

Here is an idea that looks pretty.Scroll down to the May 10th post.It's probably too late for you to do this,but it would be a good idea to use for some other occasion.And you could do plain brown bags and stamp something on them and tie with raffia instead of ribbon to make it cheaper.I can't wait to see what you come up with.Love,Gayle

50s Housewife said...

A friend of mine does this sort of thing quite often. Her sister asked her to do a similar "to-go" lunch recently and she did homemade chicken salad in croissants with grapes and little wheat crackers and cheese cubes. I think she also included a pickle.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the brownie bites would be good as far as mess goes. That, a wrap and some chips would be plenty. Maybe a tiny stem of grapes more for a garnish - but I assume there will be food at the reception? You are a good friend to do all of this! :)


Unknown said...

I agree with the CVS M&M's!!! You can get the 14 oz CUPID MIX-Red,white/pink!! CHEAP!! I bought 4 bags today. 49 cents a bag!

Meg said...

I think you could safely add a "box" for utensils and napkins. If the wedding party will be picking up their meals in a central location, then they can also grab utensils, a napkin and a drink.

I second the idea of pinwheels and grapes. Baby carrots might be another good addition. Come to think of it, none of those items require utensils. Maybe that could be a theme... Cream puffs with tuna or chicken salad inside, but those might get soggy if they sit around for hours.

For kicks, I might toss in one of my lovely, full coverage aprons for the bride to don while nibbling at her delectable repast.

Tamara said...

My first thought was that you could put the fruit in a plastic bag and tie w/wired ribbon, to keep juices from getting on other foods, but I agree, grapes would be simpler/neater. Nevertheless, the little tied baggies would be cute & would contain the grapes.

How about a trail mix w/ fruits for dessert? They'll have a sugary dessert later in the day (wedding cake), and the trail mix can have protein.

What about pinwheels (sliced wraps), instead of whole wraps? Might be neater to eat.

Anonymous said...

I like the apron idea. I know time is of the essence and you don't really sew, but a plain apron with "Bride" stenciled on it would be darling. If you have a clever friend, some white sheets--oh well, to dream! Anyway, any apron would be cute and practical. I would keep food as easy to eat as possible with utensils ties in ribbon in one of your baskets.

Anonymous said...

This comment has nothing to do with the wedding lunch but I always make a box lunch whenever I am traveling on an airplane. Everyone around eating airline food (if you are lucky enough to get any these days) is totally envious!

Anonymous said...

I love the napkins! SO cute. I think everything you have planned sounds really nice. I had a nice box lunch at a women's convention a while back and it contained chicken salad in a croissant, pasta salad and fruit and a cookie for dessert. It was delicious! BUT...probably has high mess potential!

I just had an idea: what about serving a chicken salad in a pita? I find them at the 99 cent store quite often and they are really tasty. They're easy to handle and will hold the contents well. And they're also different! Just an idea...

I look forward to seeing what you decide on!

Anonymous said...

I forgot...and this may be nice to the convention I was at they didn't serve fruit...I just remembered it was 3 strawberries! The only thing you'd need to worry about is dropping one on an outfit or seeds stuck in their teeth!

Have a great day...

Meredith said...

Yes, I had hoped to do something with chicken salad, too--but the mother of the bride thinks it is too messy. Ditto the pasta salad and cut up fruit.

Due to scheduling issues, this will be the main and only meal the 8 groomsmen and bridesmaids eat until the wedding reception at 7 pm. Apparently they are stuck for 3 hours at the church with no food around, so I have to provide *enough* food that they won't go hungry.

That's why I'm doing full size wraps instead of pinwheels.

The mother of the bride also wanted separate food trays for the groom's and the bride's dressing rooms--which would have been $30 for each deli tray plus chips, drinks, and fruit in each one--add to this cost the disposable trays for each room, not to mention paper plates, etc.

It was I who suggested doing the box lunches. This way everything they need is in one tray, they can eat directly from the tray and throw the whole thing away when they are done.

I'm going to do a cost analysis on the wraps and see how it stacks up to the sandwich tray from Kroger. Right now you can get a tray of 12 pinwheel sandwiches for $10.

Meredith said...

$1.50/lb is the best price on grapes this week, but they are not very sweet.

I'm going to get a bunch almost for garnish more than anything else and add the $4.68/2 lb. strawberries I found at Publix.

The produce manager suggested I cut up Granny Smith apples into thin slices and rinse them in a lemon water solution to keep from browning.

Susie said...

I second trail mix with dried fruit. Very non-messy as a dessert and full of protein. Cheese cubed or sliced up with crackers would make an excellent side as well.

Anonymous said...

Think red and white to go with the color scheme. Cherry or grape tomatoes instead of the other grapes if the price is good. I like the idea of pinwheel wraps, add some tiny bits of diced red bell pepper or pimento if that's affordable, with white wraps and very thin deli-style turkey or chicken (which will also stretch the budget). Love the M&M idea if you can get them on sale. Or a sweet trail mix with craisins and frosted mini-wheat cereal (store brand, of course). Add salty nuts to the mix. Make sure you add some kind of breath mint. Very easy and cheap to make yourself (google for butter mints recipe)

Edi said...

For the reception at my sil's wedding they had those clear plastic clamshells...inside was a sandwich (might have been on a croissant type roll), a little bag? of mixed potato chips but they were like sweet potatoes and ?? not potato chips - they were fancier. Also there was a little container of salad w/lid - and maybe a cookie (I'd go w/cookies rather than brownies...less messy). I'd insert the cutlery into a napkin and tie the whole thing with a ribbon to the outside of the box.

Meredith said...

I thought the plain Sun Chips would be less messy than nuts and bolts or trail mix--less handling with the fingers, less salt and grease overall.

But I was definitely going to investigate some kind of trail mix until I found the individual bags of Sun Chips on sale.

For dessert I think I've decided on a version of the Pioneer Woman's oatmeal cookies--very chewy with added nuts and chocolate chips. Dense, but not messy.

I'd rather serve them too much food than too little. It won't go to waste--the area around the church is full of homeless people. I am going to provide an empty container in each room where they can condense the unwanted food items, then leave the container in the alley afterward.

Condiments--I am using a sharp Vermont cheddar spread with roasted red peppers instead of condiments.

Anonymous said...

I might consider using the larger cupcake aluminum cups for the fruit rather than the ruffled coffee filters. The wraps sound good if they are not larger with lots of items that could fall out on to a dress. The cookies sound great also. I would consider making a small mint out of white chocolate and mint flavoring in a leaf type mold for a breath freshener after the meal.

Jenny's Vegcafe said...

I agree with the mint.. even a wrapped starlight mint would be a nice touch.
I'm anxious to see your breakfast and lunch menu/pictures.

Eleanor Joyce said...

mini skewers of fruit look classy,are not messy, and can stretch your buck. Either a round toothpick, or a shiskebob skewer cut to the length you want. One fresh pineapple, pkg of strawberries, and some grapes can go a long way.

Anonymous said...

I was going to suggest the cookie as opposed to a brownie - I can just see the clash of dark brownie and pale wedding dress! I was also thinking - good deal on the Sun Chips BUT I would think that pretzels would be less messy - nothing on your fingertips with pretzels. Grapes, baby carrots and cheese chunks would work well too.
Another thought to add - all this talk has been about rather delicate, girly "tea party" food. Most guys I know of would be looking for something a bit heartier (esp. the groomsmen - the groom might have a bit of nervous stomach) - maybe throw in an extra bag of apples (unsliced) and crackers and cheese for them? Sliced summer sausage perhaps too?

Anonymous said...

My only tip is to maybe wrap the sandwiches in parchment paper and tie with a pretty ribbon. I love Monica's packaging ideas at The Homespun Heart. I would refer to her Avonlea night(in Sept. 08) and the time she took her family strawberry picking. She has the best ideas to make things look special and I am sure you will come up with something lovely. You always do!

Miranda said...

I found the individually wrapped "Wet Ones" at Big Lots... $1.00 for 24. They were in with the lotions. Good Luck! You will do a great job!

Anonymous said...

My aunt did snack baskets for my wedding and they had cubed cheese, beef jerky, grapes, crackers, and some kind of candy, I think. They were big hits...while dh and I were having our pictures taken, the groomsmen & bridesmaids ate everything!!

It's a Mom Thing said...

Meredith, You are such a sweet friend! I love the idea of a box lunch with too much food! They can just save them and snack on them throughout the afternoon if they want to.

Are you planning to wrap the wraps in parchment paper? That might help any condiments from spilling out.'re making me hungry!

Cheri said...

Hi I really enjoy your blog. You are super creative and always have great suggestions. I have a great snack idea for you that children love. Mix microwave popcorn with Trix cereal,& sprinkle on some edible glitter, or colored sugar.

Heather Anne said...

I have an M&M cautionary tale ..... the dye on those M&M's does NOT come out of silk .... ever! We were involved in a wedding where the bridal party were munching on M&M's between times and one of those pesky little candies somehow made it to the front center of the bride's dress. It was damp and left a trail of dye ... This happened before the reception or pictures. Nothing would take out the stain. It was pretty sad - and the dress was ruined - even dry cleaning could not remove it!

Can I recommend white jelly beans? They don't stain at all - even in the hands of a sweet toddler flower girl!

Anonymous said...

I sure don't want to seem negative, but after doing a large morning brunch, are you SURE you want to mess with doing more that day? (Or having yet more food to prepare the night before?) I hate it for you that the mom of the bride sort of put you on the spot. It would be a shame to do all that work (a brunch AND a lunch!) and then just literally be exhausted and not enjoy the rest of the day and the wedding itself, the reception, etc. I am strictly speaking from my perspective but, if I were already doing the brunch, I think I would get prices from all the sandwich shops in the area, and see if you can just pick up something that day, (maybe your mom or husband could help you with that), and then just cut the sandwiches into sections, add some Sun Chips, a few cups of some kind of non-messy fruits/cookies, etc., and call it a day. I think just doing the breakfast brunch will be enough. And my two cents is that the bride's mom should foot the bill for the sandwiches, and then, only if you want to, you can provide the rest. Just tell her that after thinking it through, you're worried that with your little ones, it will just be too much to do both food events in one day. Honestly, I don't mean to be negative, and maybe you can pull off things like this way better than I can, but I would just hate to see you have too much crammed into one day, and then just absolutely dread the entire event. I love weddings, but...sheesh, sometimes enough is enough! I think it's a little bit unbelieveable that she is asking you to do both. But everyone gets a little wacky, I guess, the closer the big events gets. And like I said, this is just my perspective, and maybe you have a better attitude about all of it than I would!!

Betty Canuck said...

Something else that might go well for the guys is something like a sausage wrap. I often make up tea biscuit dough and wrap it around 1/2 a hot dog folding the ends of the dough around the hot dog. It takes about 10 mins to bake the dough and the hot dog is heated up well.

But the best part is that my kids prefer them cold. You may have to experiment a bit with the meat.

Or even Scottish Scones made with Oatmeal would be excellent for the Groomsmen. The oatmeal gives some really hardiness to the 'lighter' food and really leaves some weight in the stomach. I have recipes and you can leave me a note and I'll send it to you. Thankfully it is a really simple great tasting recipe, and lends well to baking the day before.

Anonymous said...

oh how fun! great idea for using the clamshell salad containers!!

might i suggest you popping by my "bentos" area of my blog for a gander at a few of our past bento box lunches ... maybe something will spark an idea


Michele Moore said...

I think all the ideas sound great. Just wanted to let you know that we got grapes at Sams yesterday (I am thinking about $5 for 3 pounds?) and they were MUCH sweeter than the ones I had seen in the grocery store. They had green and red seedless.

Can't wait to see what you come up with. Don't forget to take pictures of the boxes before you deliver them. :)

Thanks for all your posts and helpful hints.


Anonymous said...

Hi Meridith,

I'm very new to your blog, but I've been enjoying your ideas. May I suggest that you (and everyone else) check out "My lunch can beat up your lunch" for a wide selection of ideas and recipes based on the Japanese concept of the "Bento" or boxed lunch. I'm living in Japan just now, and homemade and store-purchased box lunches for train trips, hikes, school, office etc are a fact of life. The site above has lots of western (non-japanese) ideas, you may find inspiration, either for now or the future!

Carrien Blue said...

Smart and final often has paper boxes in various sizes for very little. That's where I pick up a lot of the single serving ware that I use from time to time.

What about baby carrots? Filling, not messy, and easy for you to do. Much easier than slicing fruit. A 2 lb bag is usually around $2 or less. OF course, I don't feel the need to eat them with dip. Most people will eat them plain as well.

You could also serve celery, broccoli, etc.

Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

I don't have any ideas. I just want to say good luck!

Roberta said...

raw nuts, like cashews, do not have the oils and salt on them...are a good source of quick protein and energy and taste better too.
the fruit skewers is a good idea...especially with strawberries that stain. I'd be worried about that with children in the wedding party.
The chicken wraps sound delicious, and your packaging will look very nice.