My mom's birthday took place while I was in Oaxaca, so before my trip I brainstormed gifts that would be practical, enjoyable, and last through her birthday.
Given that my mom works for the post office and sometimes pulls 12-14 hour shifts, she seldom cooks and usually just cobbles meals together. I thought it would be convenient if she had ready-to-eat meals she could take to work, so from there the lunch box mission was born.
One day, when Cris and I were at her house, we hung out until after she left for work. Then we scoured the fridge for any and all ingredients we could use. Turns out my mom had a boatload of vegetables, as well as masses of unidentifiable proteins in her freezer. Lots of chopping and defrosting commenced.
After a good three hours of prepping and cooking, we had over a dozen dishes ready. For starches we had rice (with corn), fried rice, ramen noodles, spaghetti and rice flour buns.
For proteins/sides we had sweet & sour shrimp, sauteed green beans (with fish balls & another with meat), moo shu vegetables, chinese "fajita" stir-fry, dumplings, leftover barbecue & chili from lunch, etc. Impressive just how much we were able to make without even a trip to the supermarket.
We filled all of my newly purchased tupperware boxes one by one, each with a starch and several sides. I made sure that no two boxes were alike so Mom wouldn't get bored of eating them.
Also, as a bonus, we made fruit salad and filled several boxes with just that, so she could take them on the days she felt like having dessert.
By the end of everything, we had a veritable mountain of lunch boxes. Enough to last my mom a month!
It was tricky getting all of the boxes to fit in the freezer but we did it!
According to my sister, my mom loved her lunch boxes and ate one almost every day. That's what I call a mission accomplished!
Note: It was funny, my mom didn't discover the surprise until a week later! She just kept wondering who stole her vegetables or how they might have disappeared...