These days, it’s not easy to find students gathered in a circle, eating lunch chummily on the green campus grass or in spare class rooms. But a new trend is here. Take-out foods? No, it’s a handmade lunchbox; the number of so called “lunchbox-ers” is increasing, for a variety of reasons.
Kim Hee-jin (English Education, 1) started bringing her own lunchbox recently, to save money.
“Due to the increasing price of commodities and tuition fees, many students are starting to zip their wallets. Lunch and dinner used to be biggest part of my daily expenditure. The food cost roughly about 4000 to 5000 won if you eat outside, but making my own lunchbox only costs about 2000 won in total with a lot of side dishes. It’s a half price,” said Kim.
There were also students who brought lunchboxes to save time. “Even if you decide to eat at the Student Cafeteria or buy kimbap (rice wrapped in seaweed), you have to wait in a long line. However, if I bring my lunchbox, I can eat quickly and save 30 minutes of extra time to study. That’s why I prefer lunchboxes,” said Lee Sue-jeong (Molecular and Life Sciences, 1).
According to Lee, rice balls are the best menu for lunchbox because it takes less than three minutes to make.
“Crumple dried seaweed, slice dried anchovy, and add them in an empty jar with sesame seeds. Then, add rice with a pinch of salt. Shake the jar up and down then you will have a round, rice ball,” said Lee.
Others brought lunchboxes for safety reason. “Most restaurants use relatively cheaper ingredients and a lot of condiments, which may be harmful to one’s health. Although not all restaurants are like that, I can’t trust much unless I check the ingredients one by one. On the other hand, a lunchbox is safe and nutritious because I make it by myself and check what goes in and not,” said Han Hye-jung (International Studies, 1). Some students chose lunchbox over crowded restaurant or cafeteria for fear of the flu.
The most common type of lunchbox was packed with rice and a lot of side dishes such as kimchi, fried eggs, namul (Korean seasoned vegetable), and sausage. Unlike one-dish foods, rice with side dishes provides a variety of vitamins and forms a great balance in overall nutrition. As a result, one becomes healthier and naturally loses weight.
Yet, there were students who came up with a different type of lunchbox.
“When I’m on a diet, I always substitute my lunch with salad. But salads sold outside don’t contain many ingredients, so I make it on my own and bring it to school. My salad always contains at least one fatless ingredient other than vegetables. For example, potatoes go well with apples, sliced onion and mayonnaise, and tofu goes well with asparagus, nuts, and oriental dressing. My favorite is seafood salad, which includes sliced squid, clam and shrimp with French dressing. It’s not easy to find these unique salads that are delicious and satisfying at the same time. And of course, dressings are handmade too,” said Kim Hye-seong (Pharmacy, 3).
Here are tips from lunchbox-ers at Ewha
1. Freeze the leftover side dishes from the evening’s dinner and put them in the lunchbox in the morning. By lunch time, they will be thawed and maintain the perfect temperature to eat.
2. When using a plastic lunchbox, put three drops of vinegar on a kitchen towel and wipe the lunchbox with it. This disinfects the lunchbox and keeps the contents safe from food poisoning, especially in summer. Also, a few drops of lemon juice also keep cut fruits and vegetables from turning brown.
3. When storing foods that are hot, always cool them before putting them in the box, or else the food will easily rot due to the condensation formed in the tightly sealed box.
Expensive and grand dishes in restaurants are not the only options for your everyday lunch. Eating your handmade lunchbox is killing four birds with one stone; it is economical, time-saving, safe, and healthy. Eating handmade lunchbox with your friends on a sunny afternoon may become your daily habit and joy.