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Resource Wed Mar 25 2009
Office workers around Chicago, and around the nation, who still have jobs to go to are giving up their daily $10 sandwich or salad deals and bringing lunches from home instead. And with the stylish new lunch-toting options available nowadays, they can carry their food with pride and panache. Whole Foods carries a bento-box lunch "system," on display right next to the overpriced salad bar, so you can fill the little compartments as soon as you've paid for them.
The tiffin carrier, available from Design Within Reach or other online retailers, is an even sleeker vessel. It might look like the tin pail Laura Ingalls Wilder carried to school on the Little House on the Prairie TV show, but the stainless-steel carrier is inspired by the word "tiffin," which means light lunch or snack in parts of Britain and India.
If having a stylish lunch box makes you feel pressured to fill it with healthy, sophisticated foods, there is help available.
Lunch-preparation web sites such as tiffintin and Cooking Cute, which is devoted to the bento box, offer photos of lunches, recipes and even notices about other attractive or environmentally friendly lunch-packing accessories to hit the market. I've been a fan of Vegan Lunch Box since I started having to pack school lunches every morning. Though, I have to admit, most days I fall back on peanut-butter-and-jelly-sandwiches, especially because my third-grade daughter says classmates call her "freaky" when her lunches become too fragrant or foreign looking.
Don't have the time or the inclination to put together a multicourse meal for your tiered tin? At Wave Restaurant at the W Hotel, chef Kristine Subido is now offering aTiffin menu, which can be taken to go. Subido says a traditional tiffin consists of three to five different portions that when combined make up a complete meal. Her tiffin menu, available at lunch and dinner, Monday through Friday, is served in tiffin containers if you eat in, but the containers can't be carried out. The lunch includes a salad and choice of grilled chicken tikka with coriander-peanut chutney or buttered, spiced lentils and warm chapatti bread. Dinner includes salad and choice of grilled chicken tikka with peanut chutney, or lamb tajine with preserved lemons and dates, or buttered, spiced lentils and warm chapati bread. You'll be the envy of the cafeteria if you bring one of these meals to work, as long as you don't work around a bunch of third graders.