Archaeology: What’s for Lunch?

What do you do about lunch in the field?  I like to pack light, so even on excavation (when lots of techs bring coolers full of a variety of foods) I want my food to fit in my backpack, with my trowel, pick, measuring tape, notebook and water.

Therefore, my food needs to be able to endure heat, be impermeable to dirt, and withstand being knocked about.  What are my favorite field foods?  Prepared goods from the grocery store!

I’m not a fan of saturated fat or high fructose corn syrup.  So what do I eat?

Trader Joe’s mostly.

Source: Archaeo Field Tech's Kitchen

1. Clif Bars are your best friend.  They pack the perfect amount of calories and nutrients to keep you going throughout the day.  Take advantage of your two 15 minute breaks with one of these guys.  I like White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, Peanut Toffee Buzz and Oatmeal Raisin.  Also- Luna bars- read CHOCOLATE.  I also love Luna bars for providing delicious chocolate flavors that are much lower in saturated fat than regular chocolate.  As a former chocolate addict, these bars are my savior.

2. Hard sourdough pretzels.  Super low in fat, lots of salt to help keep you hydrated!

3. Grape tomatoes- these require tupperware, although they also do remarkably well in plastic baggies if you want to destroy the environment that way. Grapes are also great this way.

4. Artichoke & Heart of Palm salad.  The way this one is packaged is genius- no leaky dressings! And no meat or cream to go bad in the heat.

5. Shelled edamame. Fantastic snack food, high in protein, low in fat.  Lots of energy in these guys.

6. Indian dishes packed like space food.  Fellow field tech Gregg pointed me in the direction of these awesome, flavor-packed dishes. They have been a field staple ever since.  These go great with #7- whole wheat flour tortillas.

Source: Archaeo Field Tech's Kitchen

7. Hand-made whole wheat flour tortillas. These aren’t always available, the regular whole wheat flour tortillas are a good substitute.

8. Mozzerella & kalamata olive salad. This one isn’t packed as well as the previous salad, but it won’t leak liquids- which is key. The problem with this one is really that it has cheese in it- which pushes that saturated fat content up pretty high. What do you do? Don’t eat the cheese!

9. Cooked vegetables in tupperware!  How do you cook vegetables in a motel room?  I recommend buying either frozen veggies and making use out of that microwave.  Frozen veggies are available at most (all?) grocery stores nation wide.

10. Chickenless Chicken- works great in wraps and sandwiches!  Keeps better than real chicken too!

I have it on good authority (from fellow field techs Tad & Jennifer) that  St. Dalfour’s canned goods are delicious and nutritious, and check it out- fork attached!  These require planning, because you have to order them online.

Source: Amazon.com

What foods don’t work?

1. Bananas.  There are too many sharp things in my backpack for a banana to survive the day. It ends up bruised, broken and mushy.

2. Peaches- for the same reason. Although they survive better if you wrap them in a paper towel and eat them early in the day.

3. Fast food.  This stuff is high in saturated fat and sodium, so if you plan on eating it all day you’ll end up feeling like shit. Sure it’s quick, easy to pick up on the way to the site, but it’s not going to provide the energy you need to do anything. You’ll most likely end up feeling sick all day.

4. Chicken salad/tuna salad/mayonnaise.  These are okay in the winter, when it’s cold and the world acts like a refrigerator. In the spring, summer and fall- no dice. They spoil.

5. Yogurt- turns to liquid, a consistency that I personally can’t stand.  Also- it can pop and get all over everything- see 1. Bananas.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional nutritionist.  I am a professional archaeologist.  I do not presume to know anything about nutrition or what will or will not work for you.

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2 thoughts on “Archaeology: What’s for Lunch?

  1. There’s always the banana bunker..lol. http://www.coolest-gadgets.com/20120427/banana-bunker-practice-safe-snacking/ Actually bananas can sometimes survive until the first morning break if you are careful where they are smooshed in your pack.

    When I was in the field, my lunch usually consisted of whatever extra could be grabbed from the hotel continental breakfast – bagels, packets of peanut butter, fruit, or cookies. Anything to stretch that per diem!

  2. Melonie Shier says:

    Tortillas are the best for lunches, especially when filled with whatever last night’s per diem dinner left you with. From left over Chinese to spaghetti, from steak to curry. For fruit I stick with oranges and apples. Also, never underestimate the goodness of mozzarella string cheese, personal preference on those really hot days.

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