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What to make for packed lunch???

I make my bf lunch every day - he has access to a fridge and microwave but all I can come up with is pb&j, the occasional rice and chicken, pasta and veggies, pasta and chicken, fruit, etc. PLEASE I need lunch ideas - he's getting sick of the same thing and I want to make new, delicous food. A few things-

-must be able to make it the night before (or assemble in the morning, but no actual cooking)

-must have at least a bit of protein

-cannot contain any creamy sorts of sauces, pork, or fish

Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated! Thanks!

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  1. One idea is to make wrap sandwiches. Turkey, chicken, spinach, lettuce, walnuts, thin sliced apples, bacon, ham, sprouts, cheese.....the possibilities are endless. Toss everything in a bowl with oriental dressing and then wrap. Healthy, filling and good.

    1. You're lucky your b/f will let you put things like rice and pasta in his lunch. My SO has a mini fridge in his office for storing his lunch, but he refuses to use the communal microwave. He is a bit weird about germs. This limits me to packing him only things that are good cold or room temp. He also refuses to eat most leftovers, the whole germ phobe thing again.
      For his lunches I do a lot of wraps. Nothing terribly exciting, turkey, ham, chicken etc, but I do play around with the different flavored wraps like spinach and roasted red pepper to keep it mildly interesting. I also occassionally stuff a pita. Today it was a whole wheat pita with a sliced italian balsamic chicken sausage left over from dinner last night(one of the few leftovers he will touch). Also instead of the usual condiments, mayo and mustard, I sometimes sub an herb or veggie cream cheese.
      I try to include at least one fresh fruit and vegetable. Depending upon the veggies I will include hummus on occassion for dipping.
      Sometimes instead of a sandwich or wrap, if i have varieties of cheeses and crackers on hand I wll pack him an assortment of those which he really likes because he is definitely a cheese guy.
      I always put a yogurt in his lunch which he typically saves for the inevitable mid afternoon munchies. I also try to include a treat which varies depending upon what I have made. This week it was a big batch of granole which is one of his favorites.
      I am lucky he does not get bored and actually prefers simple fare to anything terribly different. Food wise he has never overcome his farm raised MI roots which is just fine by me. It definitely makes my job incredibly easy.

      8 Replies
      1. re: ArikaDawn

        My fave is salmon teriyaki and rice, with whatever side veggie--edamame is nice. I leave cooked Japanese rice in the rice cooker overnight (this is safe to do) and add it to a tupperware containing the salmon and veggie in the morning (I eat this Japanese style--at room temp, but it can be reheated. I just hate the texture of rice when it's in the fridge.

        1. re: ArikaDawn

          Thanks for the good ideas - I may be lucky in that way ArikaDawn but this is also the man who will not touch deli meat with the exception of sliced cheese and roast beef and only once in a while - which leads us to more pb&j, roast chicken, and cheese sandwiches - I like the idea of wraps - I do the hummus things as well though he doesn't like baby carrots or celery - he also doesn't seem to eat yogurt anymore - loves granola as well and we do granola bars and/or a piece of chocolate sometimes. He doesn't want any kinds of crackers or chips anymore so that makes it a bit harder as well.
          He's really a simple guy actually but lunch does get boring and since there's only certain things he'll eat, I feel like I'm making the same thing over and over again! I am going to the store today so I will deifnitely get some wraps and more hummus - also I like othervoice's idea of oriental dressing with stuff - hadn't thought of that-
          Additional ideas? Thanks!

          1. re: sushieat

            Alton Brown has very good recipes for granola bars and mix at the Food Network or at his site. I believe it's been a while since the episodes aired, so you might have to just search it. Google would likely pull it up.

            I used to bring a lot of leftover pasta dishes with chicken or sausage and a side of some freshly cooked greens like kale or chard. Put in a lemon wedge to squeeze over, to brighten the flavor. Cook's Illustrated has had some very good pasta salads and dishes, etc. that are even better the next day after they've been chilled. Would he eat something like that cooked the night before? You could reheat chili or stew in the morning, and put that in a preheated thermos, along with a piece of cornbread. Tabouli, wheatberry salad with cranberries and walnuts, or roasted veggies are all good sides to chicken or turkey. If he likes Italian arancini (rice balls stuffed with cheese and panfried) or Japanese style onigiri, those both keep well and improve in flavor overnight. At Japanese groceries you can find little packets of nori to pack with onigiri separately from the rice, so the nori stays crisp. A small frittata made the night before with fontina and veggies he likes could work if he likes eggs. Pack that with a muffin or some focaccia. I used to pack my husband homemade cinnamon rolls, which made him popular at work!

            One thing that always makes lunch more special is a homemade dessert, a couple cookies, a bar cookie, a piece of applesauce cake, gingerbread or something similar. Roasted spiced nuts are a good snack to pack along with a piece of fruit.

          2. re: ArikaDawn

            She is LUCKY he LETS her include rice and pasta? No no no...these GUYS are both extremely lucky to have you ladies preparing their lunch with such care. I hope they appreciate it!!! I just had to say that...

            1. re: prunefeet

              I gotta agree, though not with caps. My SO packs his own lunch every night. I cook dinner and there are always leftovers, so he has plenty of ammo. He cooks too, so he'll make curries, pastas and chilis to take as well.

              Last week we cooked a white bean chili together that came out great. Lots of cumin and cilantro. We made a big batch, and he alternated between that, some pasta with red sauce and sausage, and sandwiches. He's not picky at all.

              1. re: mojoeater

                Maybe the caps were over done. I think it's nice that they are making lunch for their guys. I love to make food for people I love. I just feel that the guys are the lucky ones! :)

              2. re: prunefeet

                I pack lunch for my wife. I wouldn't do it if she were picky of if I had to be "lucky" to get it right.

            2. Salads are always good. Include his favorite vegatables. great with leftover steak or chicken. I usually cook up chicken or turkey breasts, and use them in either sandwiches or salads during the week.
              Today for lunch I have egg salad- in nice rainbow shades from our easter eggs. Also have some broccoli which i blanched, then quickly sauteed in oil and garlic.THis can be eaten cold or heated up.
              Tomorrow will probably be left over sweet potato ( from tonights dinner)with chicken breast.

              3 Replies
              1. re: macca

                Macca what do you do with the chicken breasts? As far as toppings in the sandwich? I just add mustard and cheese which I think is a bit boring after a while - also do you just saute the chicken breasts? Broccoli sounds good - hadn't thought of giving veggies like that-
                Foodslut - salmon teriyaki sounds so good! He would love that but it's really ok to eat the salmon at room temp? He'd have a fit I'm sure :-)

                1. re: sushieat

                  I usually poach them in chicken stock, or toss them on the grill. If I grill them, I usually marinate them first 9 with whatever is handy!). I use the poached breasts wither on the salad as is, or I make a chicken salad for a roll up or sandwhich.
                  If you get tired of broccoli, eggplant is great, too. Sautee with a bit of brown sugar, soy sauce and garlic. This is also good cold or heated up.

                  1. re: sushieat

                    I lived in Japan and people would always take lunch and eat it at room temp so I'm used to it. I've never had problems, especially since the salmon is cold when you add the rice and it's eaten a few hours later. Also, the salt in the soy sauce does act as a preservative. If he's worried about it, you can refrigerate it, but then the whole microwave thing becomes an issue. We usually pack our own lunches--mostly leftovers from the night before. I admire your perseverance--I don't think I'd have the patience to deal with someone that picky.

                2. I usually make a grain dish--like wheatberries or quinoa with veggies -- or couscous. They travel well, you can eat them at room temp (or heated), and it's easy to either dress them at home w/ olive oil, or bring a little container with you.

                  1. would he eat veggie/non fish sushi?

                    You could wrap them the night before if you make the rice that night, and use teriyaki chicken, avocado, etc for fillings.