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May 1, 2011 07:00 PM

Portable Work Lunch Ideas

I've been packing the same lunch for my husband for past five years now. Cashew/almond butter and jelly sandwich, egg sandwich or boiled eggs, chopped carrots and celery. Sometimes I throw in a piece of fruit or a Clif Bar. Well, today he came home and declared he's finally sick of eating CB/AB&J sandwiches and his "staples" in general. So I need to come up with a couple other options, and I thought - I must ask the hounds at Home Cooking board!

I'll admit I'm not much of a cook. So I need something simple and easy. It should also be easy to assemble - I usually don't have much more than 10-15 minutes in the morning to do this. I could make a large batch of something in advance and assemble it each morning, if need be.

It also has to be something he can eat with no utensils. He works at an ER so there's almost never enough time to sit down and eat. Also something that will keep fine at room temperature for hours and be fine to eat at room temperature as well since fridge/micro access seems to be rather limited.

All I could think of was making rice balls (onigiri) with various fillings inside. But I'm not even sure how long it would hold up though at room temperature.

Any ideas?

Thank you so much in advance, as always.

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  1. This is always tough, isn't it - I have the same problem with lunches for my two boys at school every day! The most obvious thing is to have a wider range of types of bread and fillings that you can mix and match to stay interesting - wraps, seedy bread, rolls, slices of french bread, crusty white sliced, rye for the sandwich 'outside' to go with fillings like cheese and marmite (yes, I'm English!), cheese and pickle, tuna, ham, chicken, salami, pastrami etc etc. It's also fun to include plain slices of artisan bread with ready-sliced cold meats, cheeses and pate so that he can make his own combination with his fingers.

    Tiny pots of hummus or taramasalata with breadsticks and veg dippers like pepper or sugarsnaps are good, as are pastry things like pork pies, pasties, sausage rolls. Cold pizza's always popular in our house for lunchboxes, and you can even do cold mini Indian snacks like onion bhajis or samosas, perhaps with a raita.

    If these are not removed from the fridge until the last minute they should all last until lunchtime at an ambient temperature; I've never poisoned anyone yet! Hope some of these ideas help.

    3 Replies
    1. re: flashria

      Pasta salad with oil-based dressing is good. I make a greek orzo salad with cucumber, cherry tomatoes, chopped olives, red onion, mint and feta cheese. It's great.

      1. re: flashria

        I second the hummus idea. I take it to work we me at least twice a week. You can easily make your own, or buy at the store if you don't want to make it. My store carries Sabra brand hummus, which I like when I don't feel like making it. You can vary the type of hummus for variety. Dip it with carrot sticks, peppers, cucumbers, Jicama, snap peas, etc. for variety, or bring a few pieces of pita bread, or slices of crusty sourdough. Whatever you can think of to add variety. Or, you can take the pita bread and use the pockets to stuff with hummus, cuke slices, and thinly sliced onion. I tend to switch it up with hummus to add some variety, or use what I have in the fridge.

        1. re: flashria

          I second the wrap idea. I do wraps with scrambled egg, sweet potato, cheese, chili, chicken salad....just about anything I have ready or quick to prepare.

          Crepes or Socca made with garam masala in the batter make a great alternative to wraps, too.

        2. Good suggestions. I would get him an insulated lunch bag and put a cold pack in or a frozen juice box. Should keep well the whole day.

          1. Macaroni and cheese keeps well as long as it's refrigerated until morning. Pack him a plastic fork to eat it with. He doesn't need to sit down to eat it.

            1. Same sandwich for 5 years? Your husband's a saint!
              I always pack leftovers or a sandwich for my dh. I try to incorporate nuts and fruit too, and sometimes something for dessert.
              I love my Martha Stewart containers I bought from Macy's.
              I also got him an insulated lunch bag from Land's End.

              1. Stromboli! On Sunday, roll out a batch of pizza dough (prepared from the grocery is fine. Layer with meat and cheese (pepperoni and mozzarella would be the most common, but there's no need to stick with Italian. Ham and swiss would be delish!), roll it up and bake it. WHen it's cooked through and cooled, slice it and wrap the slices. He can just grab and go each morning.

                1 Reply
                1. re: katecm

                  This is my suggestion, too. It keeps, it's self-contained (ie, not messy to eat) and delicious.