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Brown bagging it

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Hi All,
My husband is starting a new job where he is going to need to brown bag it with no refridgeration (he'll take a cooler) but there will be no way to heat any food. He hasn't had to do this for several years due to the hours he used to work. Now, what other than sandwiches can be taken that won't require utensils or a minimum of a spoon or fork that will be easy to eat. He'll burn out on sandwiches. He'll be in new residential construction sites.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. --Hummus & pita or crackers
    --yogurt w/fresh fruit, granola & nuts packed separately to mix in
    --chicken salad, egg salad, or tuna salad on a bagel
    --mixed greens loaded with chopped egg, chopped chicken, nuts, and crumbled or chunked cheese, dressing on the side
    --bowl of sushi rice w/cold grilled salmon on top
    --lots of cut-up fresh fruit or fruit salad
    --pasta salads
    --good cheese, cornichons, brine-cured olives, and a baguette
    --cooked veggies like green beans or broccoli w/sesame dressing
    I don't really like brown-bag sandwiches myself, but if the bread is varied (rolled tortillas, pita, english muffins, bagels, croissant, kaiser rolls, etc), I don't mind the sandwiches quite so much.

    1. microwaves are so cheap these days, it might be worth it for him to buy a little one for $40 to make the experience better for him. That way, at least you can send soups and stews, or leftovers for his lunch.

      1. I'm not a huge fan of it myself, but how about pasta salad? Best served at room temperature and easy to eat. Or antipasto items like olives, hard boiled eggs, prosciutto, roasted red peppers, bocconcini -- stuff that can be nibbled at.

        1. Not sure what part of the country you are, but especially if he is working outside on cold days, you could get one of those thermoses for soups, stews, or chilli. They really do keep food hot for hours.

          1 Reply
          1. re: HWiley

            We're in Maryland. He does high end marble, granite and tile in multi-million dollar homes. So he's mostly inside installing and only going outside to make cuts on the wet saw.

          2. Salads work well, just put the dressing on the side so it won't get soggy before he eats them. The smallest size of Gladware or the Zip tupperware stuff is perfect.

            Invest in a good lunch bag with a mesh pocket for the gel ice. I used it during grad school to keep my lunch cold in my locker.

            1. Since it's winter (okay, the east coast hasn't been getting the cold blast the west has, but it will probably get chilly sometime!), a wide mouth thermos for soup and stew would probably be well used. There is nothing like opening a container and having the wonderful aromas stimulate your appetite (and everyone else's!). Braised beef with crusty artisan bread would go a long way on a busy day.

              Roasted or grilled vegetables (ala Mediterranean style) will grilled lamb can be served as a composed salad. Dinner leftovers sometimes make the best lunches. If he has a cooler, the blue ice stuff will keep most things at a safe temperature until lunch time.

              Since he hasn't browned bagged in a while, a pleasant surprise would be a personal note written on a paper napkin that he would use for lunch (harkens back to school days!). I bet that would bring a smile to his face! That and perhaps a chocolate brownie for dessert!?

              Our family never took sandwiches on picnics. We had a Japanese "jubako" - multilayered box for all sorts of goodies and condiments. Grocery stores sell the little plastic containers that can be used for just about any foods. We would take musubi (rice balls), grilled teriyaki beef or chicken (a family favourite is chicken wings Mandarin, sweet and sour yummy), sunomono, Japanese pickled radishes, crab potato salad, and fresh fruit. Kimchee can also liven up a meal, but you have to be a bit careful with the 'aroma'.

              1. When I was a kid, I hated sandwiches (still do in fact), so my mom used to pack me a thermos, and as another poster pointed out, they really do work. I used to love getting mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing all stacked up. Chinese leftovers. Pastas. Chili w/ cornbread.

                As for non-thermos recs, roast chicken, homemade potato or sweet potato chips, baked potato with fixings or a baked yam, baba ghanoush, tabouli, couscous salads, quiche, frittatas, steamed artichoke (if he likes it), deviled eggs, tostada salad w/ beans, cheese, meat, salsa, avocado and tortilla chips on the side, mac and cheese, meatloaf, salmon patties... all of these are good room temp... and just maybe if he's good, throw in some ants on a log :)

                ditto the idea on a loving note too!

                1. For years, my mom used to pack my lunch in a wide-mouthed glass-insulated lunch pail with a cork + metal stopper lid. The glass finally broke. Later, I used a all-plastic insulated lunch box with clamp-on lid-- she got it in an Asian supermarket. Both of these would keep spaghetti & meat balls, pasta primavera, fried rice, or beef stew hot until lunch time, and I would eat it straight from the container. Also I love my (newer) Nissan stainless steel thermos for carrying hot chocolate!

                  For cold lunches, I've been packing plastic containers of oven-roasted veggies with sliced roast meats, hard-boiled eggs, or leftover rotisserie chicken.

                  1. I bought myself a bento box lunch box from www.laptoplunches.com, and have filled it with things from tabbouleh to zucchini pancakes to mini pizzas. I've found a few very inspiring groups on www.flickr.com where people post pictures of their lunches that are very inspiring.