Let's Do Lunch

Out of the Box: Great Local Lunches to Pack

Tired of the same dreary sandwiches every day? Bring some pizzazz to your work or school day with these inspired lunchtime solutions, each filled with locally made products available at Portland-area grocery stores.

By Katherine Hamilton Published in the Spring 2022 issue of Portland Monthly

Image: Michael Novak

The Kids and Kids at Heart Box

There’s no arguing with PB&J, especially with Oyatsupan shokupan bread (Uwajimaya, New Seasons), chia seed–cinnamon peanut butter (or hazelnut, cashew, or almond butter) from Bliss Nut Butters (New Seasons, Green Zebra), and Ayers Creek Farm jam (Providore, Wellspent Market). Pair with celery and carrot sticks dipped into Toby’s ranch dressing (New Seasons). For a treat, Bees & Beans Honey Bar Junior (Elephants Delicatessen, Market of Choice) layers honey caramel with chewy hazelnut nougat, and throw in a Bob’s Red Mill banana bar (New Seasons, Green Zebra) for snack time. Pack it all into this cheery mermaid tote (Kitchen Kaboodle).

Image: Michael Novak

The Nood Lover’s Box

Take mason jar lunches to the next level with this noodle salad: Umi Organic ramen noodles (available at Alberta Co-Op, Providore, Cherry Sprout, Natural Grocers) bulked up with Ota firm tofu (Fubonn, H Mart, Market of Choice) that you can bake or stir-fry at home. Top with a blend of Beaverton restaurant Tan Tan Foods’ peanut sauce and mild white miso from Jorinji Foods (both Green Zebra). Sprinkle shichimi seasoning from ramen shop Kayo’s Foods (New Seasons), and toss with shredded cabbage, carrots, and cilantro. Keep the peanut theme going with a crunchy peanut butter–loaded Tom Bumble Nutty bar (Food Fight, Zupan's).


Image: Michael Novak

The Meat & Cheese, Please Box

Start with garlicky Olympia Provisions saucisson sec salame and Portland Creamery’s goat cheese with habanero and marionberry (both New Seasons). Drizzle scorpion chile-loaded Jacobsen Co honey (New Seasons) and pair everything with gluten-free rosemary crackers from the Cracker King (Market of Choice). Or dip the crackers in Trazza Foods spinach-artichoke hummus (Green Zebra) alternating with sweet-spicy hazelnuts from Albina City Nuts (Providore, MoC) and slices of local apple. Serve it in this bento box—whose lid could easily double as a charcuterie board—from Kitchen Kaboodle.  


Image: Michael Novak

The Feeling Cheesy Box

For those blessed with a stovetop or toaster oven in their workplace, heat up a quesadilla made with Three Sisters Nixtamal tortillas (Food Fight, Market of Choice) and stringy Don Froylan Queso Oaxaca (Food Front, People's Food Co-Op). Top it with spicy habanero salsa from Tortilleria y Tienda De Leon (Green Zebra) and ripe avocado. Crunch on lime juice and chili powder-dressed cucumber sticks, and sip a Brew Dr mango–passion fruit yerba mate kombucha (World Foods, Market of Choice) for a dose of life-giving caffeine paired with good-for-you probiotics. Keep everything neatly stacked in this cheerful tiffin from Kitchen Kaboodle.