Mission: Build the PERFECT Flight Attendant Lunch Bag.
I’ve been flying for about 3 1/2 months now, 4-5 days a week… the honeymoon period that I was clearly in when I wrote my last post has worn off. I still like my job (most of the time) but, well…
Hey, wait–I did have a sweet 14-hour layover in Portland two weeks ago! I took a train downtown and ate “crab” rangoon at Vegetarian House and bought cotton yarn at Knit-Purl and sat in Pioneer Courthouse Square and started knitting a scarf for my mom!
And for my birfday on Sept. 7, Andy and I flew first class to Las Vegas! We ate at Bartolotta (which was expensive and not-so-good) and saw the Lion King and played penny slots and drank far too much!
But my schedule on Labor Day, Sept. 6, was as follows:
Rapid City to Denver.
Denver to Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs to Denver.
Denver to Montrose.
Montrose to Denver.
Denver to Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs to Denver.
…And that’s partly why the honeymoon is over. Usually I only do 4-5 flights in a day maximum, but still.
Being away from home is difficult, and having home-cooked, fairly healthy food has been such a source of comfort. Every time I tell a flight crewmember that I’m a vegan, they say: “That’s too hard!” Why? There’s vegan food everywhere. I guess that being a flight attendant means I have to surrender not only my social life and sleep, but also my dietary needs/preferences. I’m supposed to be completely at the mercy of the airport/hotel restaurants. Sorry, but that’s not happening. Besides, I’m glad to have an excuse to stay away from the revolting “food” that many crewmembers choke down. Continental breakfast, anyone? Sure, let’s get up at 5am to eat slimy scrambled eggs from a carton!
If I fly five days a week, approximately 71% of the meals I eat (yeah, I did the math) come from inside my lunch bag, a StrongBags Canadian Ice Flight Crew Cooler.
It’s a bit pricey but I know it will last a long time because…it was made by Canadians? I dunno. But it is a very roomy bag with nifty compartments. Oh yeah, and it does a great job of keeping my food cold.
Some things you’ll find in my bag:
- A flask, filled with vodka. Isn’t it pretty? I used to have a bigger one that says “Vodka is Vegan” but can’t find it. I don’t bring booze for every trip, but if I know I’ll have a long layover, I do enjoy a cocktail with my dinner. Party in Alecia’s room! :)
- A can opener. Don’t ask me why.
- Cereal, both cold and hot. The cold cereal is useless to me unless I remember to bring soy milk, but I can make “cup-of-oatmeal-soup” on the plane if I get desperate.
- A bag of sea salt that looks a little like coke, and small bottles of condiments that I got from ordering room service one time.
What about the FOOD? Well, when I first started flying I used to make these cute frozen dinners for myself. Whatever I made for dinner at home, I’d make extra, dole it out into Gladware, and freeze it. I felt so damn organized.
BUT many of the hotels in which I stay don’t have microwaves in the rooms. How dare they? So I’d have to take my little frozen meal down to the lobby and ask to use the microwave down there, which is usually in the staff break room/office. This leads to a lot of awkward conversation with the front desk staff, which I really can’t deal with when I’m tired and hungry.
My airline does keep a database of all our hotels, so we know which ones provide microwaves, which ones have a gym, which ones offer complimentary breakfast, etc., but since I’m on reserve and often don’t know where I’m going until the day before (or the day of) the trip, I don’t have time to do much research.
Also, sometimes I get stuck in an airport away from my base for a few hours, and finding a nuker is too challenging. What do I do with my frozen bricks of food then, huh? Huh?
So lately I’ve been packing a lot of meals that I can easily enjoy cold, but would taste good hot if there happens to be a microwave around. Couscous has been a lifesaver. I can cook the stuff in my sleep, mix it with lots of slightly-thawed frozen veggies (broccoli, zucchini, carrot), add some quartered artichoke hearts and olives, chopped kale, olive oil, garlic powder, red pepper flakes…nom nom nom!
I also enjoy pasta salad and beans ‘n rice. It all tastes good but it’s starting to get a bit old already… I need to crack open the cookbooks and branch out a bit. Any suggestions?
Snacks/desserts offer more variety in flavors and textures. My favorites are soy pudding, sliced pineapple, applesauce, cheez and/or seitan and crackers, avocado and crackers, and hummus and pita chips.
As you can see from my last post, I was on a broccoli-cauliflower-baby carrot-dipped-in-vegan-ranch-dressing kick for a few weeks but I can’t take it anymore. I seriously can’t.
But enough about that. (What is this, a food blog or a food accessories blog?) My favorite thing in my bag (besides the vodka) is my To-Go Ware bamboo utensil set.
I love it! I got so sick of running out of plastic utensils. Though I tried to make them last for at least 2 or 3 uses, they would break so easily during transit. Once I started using this sturdy, TSA-friendly bamboo set, which includes a fork, spoon, knife, and chopsticks, I realized that avoiding plastic is better for the environment and makes for a more home-y dining experience.
Speaking of bamboo–if I may digress–recently I’ve decided to be more eco-friendly. If you’ve seen me in person and noticed my hair was less frizzy, the curls more defined, it’s because I’m using more natural beauty products. Just washed my hair with baking soda the other day and it was awesome. No more sodium lauryl sulfate-laden shampoo for my tresses! 1/2 cup of molasses and 1 tablespoon of olive oil–a simple recipe I found in the book EcoBeauty—not only moisturizes my hair but also makes it smell like cookies. On the other hand, the same book had a recipe for clove mouthwash, which tasted like ass. Lesson learned.
Andy sold his car a few weeks ago and we use e-Go Carshare for big shopping trips (with our shopping bags made of recycled bottles, of course). I take the bus to the airport which is a drag sometimes because the bus only runs once per hour, but I use the commuting time wisely: sleeping, reading or knitting.
I still haven’t quite gotten around to recycling, but I’ve been saving jars/bottles/tubs for reuse. And reuse is better than recycling, right? Yeahhh.
Anyway. I’d like to get rid of plastic in my lunch bag, but the siren song of Ziploc was too difficult to resist. How do I make the transition to cute cloth sandwich bags when I have soooo many Ziplocs? Sigh…I’ll just wash and reuse the plastic baggies until they fall apart.
I don’t know enough about plastic to know what makes one type more earth-friendly than another, but I’m pretty sure Gladware is bad. It just has to be. Unfortunately, I can’t use the sexy stainless steel food containers: how would I microwave my food (when there’s a microwave available, that is)?
Maybe I should completely abstain from microwave use altogether…? Nope, I’m just not on that level yet.
I also want to start using cloth napkins, maybe even embroider them myself. Screw you, paper napkins! I’ve always wanted to learn embroidery. Pimpin’ my lunch bag!!
What? Oh yeah, the food… where are my cookbooks…?