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I need work snack ideas

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  • lissar May 20, 2005 12:00 PM
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My husband works overnights and 12-hour shifts, and frequently eats all his meals away from home. We've been relying too heavily on bought granola bars and fruit bars recently, and I'm trying to come up with a bunch of extras.

We're broke and don't have huge amounts of time, so everything has to be cheap, store well (either shelf-stable or freezable) and if homemade I'd prefer to make lots and lots. He's not a chowhound, and dislikes dried fruit, muffins, cake, and onions. Also, it must not need heating or cooling- no fridge or microwave. He has a thermos, and I send him with soup and stew, but i need more cold options.

So far, I've got pizza buns, trail mix, fruit, maybe home-made granola bars if anyone has a recipe, lots of baby carrots and fruit. We already go through tons of sandwiches, but interesting, preferably freezable sandwich ideas would be great.

Thank you VERY much for any suggestions.

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  1. Hummus is a tasty and nutritious snack ... you can easily make it yourself with canned chickpeas which are very inexpensive...there are tons of recipes around for it and on this board. Tastes great on pita chips or celery.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Val

      Sorry! NOW I see that you said "no fridge" and I think hummus needs to be refrigerated...never mind!

      1. re: Val

        Naw...I bring it to work all the time in my thermal lunchbag with a little ice pack...works like a charm.

        How about wraps instead of sandwiches? Makes a nice change from having bread all the time.

        1. re: Cyndy

          On the flip side, a good soup thermos will keep food hot for several hours. You would need one with a wider opening than a usual thermos, and one that doesn't have the little pour spout. My mom used to pack me lunch in this because I hated cafeteria food and cold lunches. It keeps rice warm all day long if you don't open it and let heat escape. I've even put boiling water in to test it, gone to sleep, and woke up the next morning to almost-hot water.

          That way your husband could eat almost anything: rice, pasta, soup, etc. without fear of spoilage or cold food. Just get it really hot before you stick it in the thermos.

          1. re: nooodles

            You probably already know this, but its best to preheat thermos's by filling them with boiling water for 10-20 minutes before filling them.
            I could have posted this topic. I am in the exact same position. I'll be watching this thread.
            -Becca

    2. how about oatmeal cookies? they're pretty healthy and easy to freeze either baked or as raw blobs of dough. if you add raisins or nuts it can make variety.

      some pasta salads are good cold but don't need to be kept really cold.

      Not just granola bars, but a bag of granola is easy to make at home, there are pretty good recipes on Epicurious.com. he could mix this with yogurt if he doesn't mind room temperature yogurt... you can buy the bigger size at the store much cheaper than the individual sizes and then put them in plastic containers to take to work. this is also good to mix with fruit, especially berries which are coming into season.

      lasagne is nice at room temperature (imho) and easy to make in large batches. if he wants it hot it could go in a thermos, just squish it in, it still tastes good!

      I can't think of anything else right now. Hope that helps.

      1. If he can bring a thermos then he should be able to bring a small personal cooler. You know one of those 6-pack sized ones. Then he would be able to bring "cold" stuff.

        1. I never put my lunch in the refrigerator and so far I have not gotten sick. I think as long as you are not using anything risky like mayo, you can safely bring a lot of stuff to work. However I am kind of gross and like to eat my dinner leftovers and almost anything at room temperature.
          Even though your husband is not a chowhound, do you think he might like to try some nice salted edamame? My downstairs neighbor, who is not quite a chowhound either, has been sold on them. And they're fun to eat, which might provide a mild form of entertainment on those long shifts. Another snack that could be semi nutritious are lowfat Triscuits and topping of choice. Another good salt fix that's not a potato chip.

          4 Replies
          1. re: melon

            Melon,

            Your statement about mayonnaise is not correct. It is a highly acidic environment and not suitable for foodborne bacterial growth. This is a great example of an old wives tale.

            1. re: Evil Ronnie

              Sorry Ronnie, I posted my mayo speech before reading your post. You are of course totally correct but there may be some out their making their own mayonaise. The low pH, high saline content of homemade mayo maybe, but is not always, microbiologically safe over the long haul. But the attorneys from the commercial providers make damn sure the store bought stuff is.

            2. re: melon

              I eat everything lukewarm too!

              And I thought I was the only one :)

              1. re: melon

                Allow me to dispel another food myth. Commercial mayonaise DOES NOT "go bad." You can make a tuna salad sandwich, leave it on a picnic table in 120 degree F heat for 12 hours and the mayonaise is fine--you will of course, die from the tuna but the mayonaise is 100% safe to eat. This is because commercial mayonaise is prepared so that outside of intentional tampering, it is impossible for pathogens to be harbored in that environment.

                Does your jar of commercial mayonaise say EXPIRATON DATE or BEST IF USED BY on it? Best if used by is a quality assurance notation since the manufacturer wants you to eat it at it's peak flavor. You do not have to refrigerate after opening from a safety standpoint, but from a flavor standpoint. At a microbiological level, commercial mayonaise lasts indefinately. (Please post any counter arguments or questions about this by starting a new thread and I'll happily address them and cite sources. Thanks.)

              2. I just thought of pickles and olives also great snacks that really do not need refrigeration either.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Val

                  I do peanut butter and saltine crackers,nutella and graham crackers,potato sticks,sardines and crackers,also buttermilk in my thermos and crumble in leftover cornbread when I get ready to eat.

                2. Thank you. Keep these coming.

                  I think I'll fill pita with hummus and roasted peppers, and freeze them- if it's freezable. Anything that requires spoons or dipping can be a problem unless he's working 12 hour shifts, because he rarely gets uninterrupted lunch breaks on regular shift.

                  He's suddenly started hating yogurt, and doesn't eat cereal. I bought a lot of frozen puff pastry and am trying to think of interesting savoury fillings. Any ideas?

                  1. How about cheese cubes and nuts? Trader Joe's has good prices on nuts. Past threads on airplane snacks might give you some ideas too.

                    1. Pasta salad is a good option and can be eaten at room temperature. An easy recipe is pasta of your choice, broccoli, olives, onions (or not), feta cheese and caeser salad dressing (I like Newmans but haven't experimented a lot).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: rkn

                        My favorite pasta salad is similar to yours - orzo, broccoli, feta, and lemon dressing. You can make your own dressing easily with lemon juice, olive oil, and a little garlic.

                      2. How about homemade whole wheat pita chips (just bake in the oven with olive oil and sprinkled salt) and a variety of homemade dips.

                        Sundried tomato dip -- process sun-dried tomatoes, nuts (almonds or walnuts), parmesan cheese, olive oil and a little garlic.

                        Spinach & cheese -- packet of frozen spinach with your choice of cheese (goat, hard, creamy) with various herbs or spices (curry, spicy, garlic).

                        Bean dip -- use a variety of beans with different spices and herbs. (white beans w/ thyme, black beans w/ tomatos & jalapenos, red beans w/ smoky chipotle)

                        Butternut squash dip, artichoke dip, red pepper dip, etc.

                        Also, lots of finger foods like chicken tenders, pigs in a blanket (use Pillsbury Crescent rolls for the blanket), homemade McDonald's style breakfast sandwiches (sausage on biscuit, ham & egg on English muffin -- very freezable), ham rolls (around cheese or melon), stuffed mushrooms, grilled vegetables.

                        1. When I was a kid, I needed similar food for in between dance classes. My favorite was vegetable curry over couscous in a thermos. You could easily add chicken or other meat to make it more hearty. It's quite easy, too, because the recipe actually calls for frozen veggies. It's quite a mild (not at all authentic) curry, too, so I imagine it would appeal to most tongues. Let me know if you'd like me to post the recipe. I think you could probably freeze the finished product (I'm not sure about the couscous) and then just reheat before it goes into the thermos.

                          Also, for your puff pastry--the current Everday Food has a recipe for what they call raspberry streudel. Basically, take 1/2 a sheet of pastry and cut into four squares. Mix up some fresh raspberries with raspberry preserves. Spoon a bit on to a pastry square, and fold the pastry around the filling into a triangle. Pinch to close, sprinkle with a bit of sugar, and bake on a cookie sheet until golden. The recipe mentions that these can be frozen before the baking step and baked off as needed.

                          I'll bet this would be good with different variations on the fruit + preseves theme (apples and apple butter, strawberries and strawberries jam), or pb&j, pb& bananas. You could probably also brown some ground beef with seasonings and use the same technique. Spinach and feta, the above beef with cheese and salsa to make a sort of taco, pizza fillings, etc. Like a homemade hot pocket!