Sunday, January 26, 2014

Solving the Lunch Problem

First a couple cool things.

Went to UNH this past Friday to see the Umaine vs. UNH game. Sat directly beside the student section and being a Maine fan was of course the target of various insults and put-downs. Can't say I'd treat them much better at the Alfond, but it was all in good fun. Unfortunately Umaine got out goalie'd pretty hard. UNH's goaltender was on his game pretty hard that night and they took the game 3-2.

They had a pretty cool blimp flying around before the game and at the half. It dropped little tickets (not sure what they said) but I wasn't able to really see how the mechanism for dropping them worked. Either way the driver was really well practiced and went underneath banners and all around the arena. They also had two mascots (overkill much?) and a t-shirt cannon that hurled shirts but could only launch a total of three before emptying the air tank. Using my anecdotal pneumatic estimator I guesstimate that Umaine's T-shirt launcher has roughly the same amount of energy storage onboard but we dial ours back significantly so we can launch all 6 shirts.
In VW news, I made some progress on repairing the tears in vinyl on the seat covers for the most recent bus. I hand sewed a few small tears in plaid tops but vinyl is one funky thing to repair. I bought a kit from Permatex for vinyl repair, it was intended to repair seats that are still installed. It gave me a bunch of color matching crap and even a little metal thing to heat up and melt the coloring to make it look textured. All of that sounded like I would just end up drawing more attention to the tear, what are the chances I could actually match the color perfectly?

Since I had the covers removed, I carefully taped the tears closed and butted the seems together and applied a patch from the back. I basically bought the kit for the adhesive which seems to work nicely.

Can you see all 3 tears?
The repairs came out pretty well and I was very satisfied with the results. A couple of them are still kind of visible but I don't think you'll be able to see any of them without really close inspection once they're installed. No color matching needed, just had to remove any crap left behind from the masking tape using some denatured alcohol. 

Currently the seat frames have gotten a coat of paint and are drying right now. Here they are all taped and ready for paint.

The Lunch Problem

Now what I really wanted to talk about. The lunch problem. You know what I'm talkin' about, I'm looking at you employed single dude who works fairly regular hours! I like to cook but I'm often too busy to make a great dinner, I've got breakfast pretty well nailed but lunch has always been a bit of an issue. Sure leftovers are awesome when you have them but for me that seems to be pretty rare. Various fast and cheap noodles are available but pretty disgusting and pretty bad for you too. Sandwiches are great but they actually cost quite a bit to make at home and I usually end up wasting a lot of my deli meat because it doesn't keep very long. "Yes Tony, but you can't have it all fast, cheap or healthy pick two," you say to me. Well there is where you're wrong. 

Two words, Black Beans. These delicious economical protein and fiber filled bastards will keep you chugging along during the coldest days of January in New England and for mere pennies! If you're fortunate enough to have a refrigerator at work this shit is about to become your new best friend. Here's what I've been doing, buy a pack of tortillas, 3 cans of black beans (Goya is the best I've found so far they have a pop top too so you don't even need a can opener you frugal, frugal man), jar of salsa and an industrial sized brick of cheese. Bring said ingredients and a plate to your place of work. For lunch through all the crap in the tortilla, microwave for 2 minutes and enjoy your well balanced hot lunch that costs about $1 to make. I've been doing this for several weeks and the best part is waking up and knowing that your lunch is already at work when you wake up. 

So you say "But Tony, that sounds pretty bland. I mean, I'm not like you, I actually have taste buds and it's much easier to just buy lunch anyways." 

FALSE. Introducing.... Green Mountain Gringo This salsa is the cat's pajamas! It really adds a lot of flavor to your cheapurrito and it's damn good with chips too. However, I'll admit after a few weeks of eating the above described recipe I was longing for some more veggies and a couple other improvements to make lunch. So, today I picked up some summer sqaush, red pepper, onion and burrito seasoning along with a bigass 1lb 13 oz can of black beans (which by my math is actually more expensive per ounce than the smaller cans). One problem with the black beans is that they let out a decent amount of liquid which makes it hard to eat the burrito with your hands. After talking to resident foodie (Hamlin), he suggested I switch to refried black beans so they'll be more sticky and less watery. 

Cooked up a bunch of veggies, heated up a bunch of black beans, mashed the crap out of the black beans (more on this ghetto refried bean technique later, but probably not) and chucked it all together. 

Lunch all week baby!
From experience I know that I eat about half of a 15.5oz can of beans per burrito. I made a spreadsheet (yeah I'm a dork) the other day to estimate how much it costs for lunch every month. Today I kept my receipt from the store, added in costs for the veggies and spices and tallied it all up.
$250 a year for lunch... whaaatt?!
The numbers don't lie folks. For a pretty healthy lunch that takes 4 minutes to make at work everyday and costs a whooping $0.90 I would say that's pretty good. Keep in mind this is with the added ingredients, if you still wanna eat poverty-rurritos they're even cheaper than this. Also, that calculation was done with more expensive black beans. I don't know why but I am seriously getting a kick out of optimizing this insanely cheap lunch solution. The folks at work seem to get a kick out of it and they like to make suggestions on how I can get the costs down even lower. That's where I got the idea for the industrial brick of sharp cheese. 

Anyways, props to whoever actually read that dissertation about my lunch. Have a burrito on me.

In other news, Dean's kickstarter book finally arrived on my doorstep the other day. Haven't had a chance to go through it with a fine tooth comb but it looks sweet and it's HUGE.  


  1. Serious props on the burrito analysis.
    Out in Michigan we have a similar hockey blimp. It flies around dropping coupons for a free soda or something. It uses an auger type system. The coupons are attached to paperclips, and and are dropped by the auger the way chips are dropped from those over-priced vending machines.

  2. Jimmy comin' in hot with the blimp knowledge. Thanks for the info, good to know you're still keeping an eye on the entire internet. :)