Book review: 'What are You Doing for Lunch?' a how-to guide for brown-bagging

By Elizabeth Hill

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 16 2012 4:04 p.m. MDT

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR LUNCH? Not Just a Cookbook; A Friendly Guide to Brown Bagging As a Better Way to Lunch," by Mona Meighan with Sara Dehart, Book Publishers Network, $14.95, 127 pages (nf)

"What Are You Doing for Lunch?" is a beginning primer for those who may wonder why and how to brown bag it. Mona Meighan explains how it can save money, improve health and build flexibility. A helpful section of the book is deciding a person's personal lunch style. Are you primarily brown bagging to save money or to eat healthier? Meighan also helps gauge this by how much time is available for lunch preparation.

The book goes step by step from how to have the right tools and ingredients to how to plan meals in advance, moving right into a sample menu. Each recipe has cost and nutritional analyses, which are helpful.

The recipes are broken down into categories, like “Grab and Go” for those who “want to open the refrigerator or pantry and pack what is available in a lunch container.” There is a helpful list of items to have on hand. While helpful, this section could have had more variety in the recipes. There were many variations on the “wrap theme,” which could have been listed as options in one recipe instead of having each as a standalone recipe. There is even a recipe for peanut butter and jelly for those who are uninitiated into this American standard.

The second category is the "Traditionalist Lunch Style" for those who are “willing to spend 15-20 minutes in the morning or the night before” in lunch preparation. This section had several creative twists on egg salad that include curry and apples.

Persons willing to try new recipes and spend some preparation time would enjoy the "Creative Lunch Style" section. The yogurt parfait with agave nectar instead of regular sugar is enjoyable. There are also several creative twists on salads and sandwiches in this section as well that look appealing.

The "Midday Gourmet Lunch" style would be applicable to those willing to cook and prepare on the weekends to have lunch items for the upcoming week. There are many recipes for main courses, spreads and soups. The easy spinach lasagna was a great addition to our recipe repertoire.

The most ingenious style is the "Social Networker," who would enjoy organizing and coordinating lunches with friends and co-workers. Each person would bring designated ingredients or parts of the meal to be enjoyed together. Another option is for five people to work as a team, each taking turns bringing lunch for everyone in the group. That would mean that four out of five days would be stress-free.

"What are You Doing for Lunch?" would be a stronger and more appealing book if it had less paragraph text and more bulleted items, information boxes, call-outs or sidebars. Color photographs, including pictures of some of the recipes, would be eye-catching and helpful.

Meighan has been in a teaching role for children and adults for decades. After losing her 26-year-old son suddenly from undiagnosed diabetes, she continues to train and educate adults and their families on how they choose to eat and prepare their lunch.

If you are a person who eats at restaurants often for your midday meal but would like to slowly change to a more economical and healthy lifestyle, this book is for you. If you are already adept at packing lunches that include wraps, leftovers or salads, there will be several recipes that would be interesting and tempting.

Elizabeth Hill loves embarrassing her children and making others laugh. She currently resides in Montana among beautiful scenery, long winters and an incredible array of hairy animals.

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