22
Apr
09

Say Goodbye to Smelly Plastic Lunches With a Tiffin Tin

img_0627Tried it?      Yes

Liked it?      Yes

In honour of Earth Day, and not only because I had three articles published in the centre-page spread of today’s Metro (click here to read it!), I’d like to introduce you to the tiffin tin.

img_0630After watching an episode of Kitchen Nightmares in which Gordon Ramsay introduced a restaurant to the joys of offering a tiffin service, I did a little Googling. I discovered that tiffins are used extensively in India, where housewives pack nutritious lunches for their husbands and send them off in colour-coded tins to be delivered by dabbawallas to their workplaces.

I’ve also been hearing lately about plastic leaching (apparently, when you heat food in some plastic containers, you run the risk of chemicals getting transferred into your food). And for those of you who like a little spice in your lunch, you know how smelly your Tupperware can get—especially if you use it to store this soup. Since I’m looking into transitioning from freelance work into an in-house position, these two facts are relevant to my interests, so I decided to source me some lunch-toting options.

img_0622While I found some interesting tiffins online through Amazon and the like, I thought I’d look for some local distributors of these stainless-steel wonders. Little India, of course, sells them in abundance but, as a west-end girl, I was delighted to discover that they were to be found in Chinatown. The next time I was in the Spadina/Dundas area, I jumped at the chance to seek my treasure.

img_0619I picked up the smallest tiffin I could find at Tap Phong on Spadina for $12.99 (two tiers—each tier holds one litre) and happily skipped home with my purchase. (By the way, if you’re in the area, they sell two- and three-tier tiffins in two sizes for under 20 bucks each. They also sell more ornate carved ones, but they looked like they were made of actual tin, and I didn’t check their prices.)

img_0617The first thing I did (after excitedly telling my brother-in-law Sean about it over the phone because I’m a nerd) was pour some water into each tier, close it up, and give it a good shake. I’ve read that steel tiffins aren’t exactly watertight—and mine was no exception. While it didn’t shoot mad amounts of liquid in all directions, the resulting random sprinkle indicated to me that, if I wanted soup, I’d be better served by investing in a vacuum flask. It didn’t matter much to me, though—I bought it so I could put bean salad in the bottom and either a bagel or some veg in the top, and I wasn’t planning on commuting to work via centrifuge.

img_0616Of course, because I work from home, I haven’t had the opportunity to try it out in a real-world situation yet but, for storing leftovers in the fridge (nothing too acidic for too long, mind you), it’s fantastic. I’m hoping to goad my in-laws into meeting us for one of our infamously large meals at Saigon Gourmet soon, so I can use it as a doggie bag. However, the next time I plan to be in a situation where I either need to tote some food or pick up some take-out, you know I’ll be lugging this thing along with an eco-charged smirk of self satisfaction.

For those of you interested in sourcing one online, To-Go Ware sells them alongside some great sustainable accessories (including cute little carrier bags  if you don’t feel like using the handle). If you’re looking for a four-tiered model, Lee Valley sells one, oddly enough, as a storage container for nails and stuff but, for 15 bucks, you can’t go wrong (and they have three Toronto retail locations, no less)!

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