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Jan 13, 2008 09:42 AM

Non-smelling, non-refridgerated lunches

The fridge at work is the size of a dorm room fridge, and with around 50 ppl sharing it, I don't feel like fighting for space. With no lunch room of any sort, most of us ending up eating lunch at our desk, and since we're in cubicle land, smells travel easily.

Does anyone have any non-[offensive] smelling lunch ideas that require little refrigeration? (I do have a little insulated lunch pail thing that will keep things cool, just not cold.) The trick here, though, is that, with a good chunk of the office doing this biggest loser challenge thing, I think even the smell of butter is somewhat offensive - which means the pocket pies, which requires a brief turn in the toaster, I made for lunch in the last week aren't great ideas when there are tons of hungry people about.

I might have to start resorting to sandwiches soon, and that would be sad since I'm not a big fan of the standard American cold cuts. (It's going to be great when spring comes, and I can eat outside without worries of traveling smells.)

Please help. (And much thanks in advance.)

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  1. Hmm this one is touchy. I agree that reheating stinky foods in communal setting is unpleasant, however, I don't really think you should refrain from heating things up just so that others who are on a diet won't be tempted.
    I think that some low sodium canned soups may be a good choice. I think sandwiches can be fun if you keep the fillings interesting. You don't have to limit yourself to basic cold cuts.... you can do grilled chicken with goat cheese and a nice chutney. Or some grilled veggies on good bread with some pesto... that is fine at room temperature.
    You can also make gazpacho.
    Good luck!

    3 Replies
    1. re: HungryRubia

      I think you have confused me with someone much nicer. When I brought the buttery smelling pies, I got descended upon by unhappy folks trying to smell my lunch and ask what it was. I'm usually happy to share (recipes or otherwise), but these people just wanted to...I've no idea.

      I think I might give a try to these ideas, especially the onigiri since I rather like making those. (Pasta salad is wearing on me.) Thanks, folks!

      1. re: Ali

        "but these people just wanted to..."

        Make you feel guilty for not depriving yourself when they're starving themselves. :)

        I'm firmly of the opinion that if there's something like that going on in the office, it's not -my- problem and I shouldn't have to deal with it on my own time.

        That being said, I recently sorta came up with this recipe that I really liked, and it'd work with any sort of sliced meat, really, though I use deli roast beast for it.

        Sliced roast beef
        cream cheese
        chopped green onion
        matchstick cucumbers (or other veggies as desired/tolerated)

        Nuke the cream cheese VERY LOW for about a minute, to make it really soft but not liquid. Spread on a slice of meat, sprinkle with green onion, add a couple matchstick veggies on one edge, then roll up into a tube. Put in the fridge to chill and become more firm, then slice into whatever size bites you want (I usually just slice them in half).

        This should keep fine in a cooler lunch thing for the few hours before lunch.

        1. re: Ali

          LOL!!! Ok now I see your logic! Good luck with the vultures!

      2. I tend to look to Mediterranean foods when I want something that doesn't have to stay all that cold before I eat it. Hummus, baba ghannouj, stuff like that is still delicious room-temp, and not very likely to turn on you. Yogurt sauces to go with it are good, too, since yogurt has already kind of gone bad, so how much worse is it going to go in the four hours before you eat lunch?

        1. One of my favorite lunch standby's is rice balls (onigiri), which can be filled with not-too-strong-smelling things (pickled plum, etc.), wrapped up in plastic and stay at room temperature.
          (Before someone chimes in about the unrefrigerated rice and food poisoning thing, let me just say that it's a calculated risk :) I eat it pretty much every day, with no adverse consequences!)

          1 Reply
          1. re: another_adam

            I make onigiri with rice left on the counter in the rice cooker overnight. Have never had any problems. Refrigerated rice tastes awful!

          2. Quiche should be fine if you keep it in your cooler. Also, I help things like sandwiches out by bringing the individual parts, and assembling at my desk. That means I don't end up with soggy smushed messes.

            Also, what about a mix of cheese, crackers, olives, etc? add some heartier dips (like hummus) and you have a meal!

            1 Reply
            1. re: aletnes

              what about the old fashioned thermos to keep soup warm? Also you can put ice packs in your lunch pail so you don't have to use the community fridge.
              Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or PB and bananas pretty non offensive in smell but you might get teased a bit...

            2. If there is no microwave or toaster oven to reheat, I would resort to a sandwich and soup (from a thermos). But make the sanch on the spot, with fresh ingredients, or open a small can of fish or meat. I have even done sardines this way, and put up with the complaints, "You're having fish again?" It's the same when I'm able to have leftover sole or lobster, so I ignore them.