Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Can Jen upgrade her elementary school lunchbox?

Jen's Childhood Lunchbox


  • Fried Rice:

  • ¼ cup Spam, cubed

  • 1 egg

  • 1 tsp light soy sauce

  • 1 cup day-old cooked white rice

  • ¼ cup carrots, shredded

  • 1 tbsp scallions, sliced diagonally

  • Oil for pan

  • Broccoli Salad:

  • 1 cup broccoli florets, cut into smaller pieces

  • ¼ cup cooked shredded chicken

  • ½ shallot, thinly sliced

  • 1 tbsp dried cranberries

  • 1 tbsp toasted pecans, chopped

  • 2 tbsp mayo

  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

  • ¼ tsp curry powder

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Fresh fruit


  1. For the fried rice: In a small bowl, whisk egg and set aside. Heat a drizzle of oil in a pan on medium. Cook Spam until browned. Set to the side of the pan and add egg. Cook until slightly puffed and golden brown. Flip over and break up into smaller pieces. Add carrots and cook until softened. Add rice, soy sauce, and scallions and cook for another 5 minutes.

  2. For the broccoli salad: Blanch broccoli in lightly salted water for 1 minute. Drain well and add to a bowl to cool. In a small bowl mix mayo, curry powder, salt, pepper, and apple cider vinegar. Combine all salad ingredients in the broccoli bowl.

  3. Pack everything into a lunchbox, along with fresh fruit.

Jen's Childhood Lunchbox




Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox


- Being a child of immigrant parents, I always came to school with a dope-ass lunchbox kinda like this one, often prepared by my mom. Should we do a show and tell? My name's little Jen and today I'm gonna show you my lunchbox. My mom likes to pack white rice with SPAM that's covered in egg and fried, it's really good. And she also liked to pack Filipino macaroni salad, it's got macaroni and SPAM. And I love broccoli so much that she boils broccoli for me until it's dis-em-in-igrated. Yeah, no SPAM. So today I thought it'd be fun to recreate my childhood lunchbox to suit my tastes as an adult. I'm gonna keep a lot of the same ingredients, I mean, I still love rice, broccoli. I don't eat macaroni salad as much anymore, I do like it, but I think I can come up with something a little bit better, don't tell my mom. And we've gotta keep the SPAM. Yeah, we're doin' it. First up I'm gonna make a fried rice. You only need a few ingredients and you can make one batch and have it for lunch and then dinner or lunch and then lunch again the next day. Mom added carrots and scallions to her macaroni salad so I'm gonna add it here. And I gotta keep that SPAM, I just cubed it up. I'm just gonna heat a pan, little bit of oil. Just brown up the SPAM. Filipinos love SPAM but I think my mom specifically included it into my lunches because it says luncheon meat so she's like, "Oh, luncheon meat. "Yeah, that's what she needs." That's lookin' nice and brown, just move that all to the side of the pan and drop in one egg. And I like to cook up my egg the Thai way which is to get it super brown. Let's give this guy a flip. And just break it up into smaller pieces. If my mom was making this in the morning she'd be like, "Anak!" "Wake up." "Oh, come on, eight o'clock already, come on!" Next some carrots. I just like to soften them up a little bit. And now cooked day-old white rice. Soy sauce. Just a little bit because remember, there's SPAM in here which is salty. So you don't need that much. And then in with some fresh scallions. I know, this is super simple, nothing groundbreaking to wow you. Well I'm just showing you how I like to eat lunch on the real. I set the rice aside because now I'm gonna work on the second part of my lunch, some broccoli. Now I'm gonna transform that sad broccoli my mom used to make and ditch the macaroni to make my favorite thing, broccoli salad. Super easy to make, just cut some broccoli florets into smaller pieces like this and then blanch them for about a minute, just to get them a little soft, bring out the bright green color. Into some boiling water. Just let 'em go, 60 seconds. Don't do anything else. And that's it, turn off the heat and I have an ice bath over here. Dump the broccoli straight into the ice, this will stop the cooking. I drained off the broccoli. Look, it's still beautiful and green. Next I'm gonna make the salad dressing which consists of mayo, apple cider vinegar and my favorite way of adding flavor to any kind of mayo-based salad, curry powder. Just a little salt and pepper here. Mom added shredded chicken to the macaroni salad so I'm gonna add that in here. Along with some mild shallots, just for a little bit of bite. I'm gonna add some cranberries to this. And the broccoli, just gently give that all a good mix so that everything is beautifully flavored and seasoned. Oh man, it smells so bomb and it's because I got curry powder. Now growing up in Queens, my school was always multicultural so my classmates would bring the most diverse-looking lunchboxes, I loved it. But what I noticed was, as we were growing older, a lot of them would get embarrassed of bringing their ethnic lunches to school. I blame 90s TV shows and commercials. But not me, I was always happy to have my mom's food, it was home cooked, filled with love, not like those sad pre-packaged boxes with the pizza kits inside. I'm not gonna lie though, I did have that a couple times and I was the cool kid. No I wasn't, I was never the cool kid. Now it's time to pack my lunch. Instead of putting the rice in the big container, I actually like a small amount of this. Now you see what I mean, that this can last you a couple meals? So you don't have to think about making lunch or dinner. Now for my main bae, the broccoli salad. Again, this makes two portions so divvy it up. The last thing I like to add to my broccoli salad is some fresh nuts. So I like this little compartment here 'cause you can add your dried stuff, you can add dressings if you want to. I like it for dried things like nuts so that it doesn't get soggy as it sits in the salad all day. And when I'm ready to eat it, I can just unscrew it, dump it out, boom. And finally I like to end my meals with a little fresh fruit, especially a clementine and some strawberries. So I like to peel it up. My future self will thank me later because in the middle of the day when you just have run out of energy and you're just like I can't, you're gonna be thanking your past self for peeling your fruit. And this? My now snack. And that's the last side. Cute! And there you have it, a recreation of my childhood lunchbox. And before I give this a try, I gotta do it the right way. I'm goin' in for the broccoli salad. Mmm. It's so refreshing, perfect for lunch. A little bit of the SPAM fried rice to remind me of Mom. Mmm! I hope you give this a try.