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Non Refrigerated Lunch

Hi all
Looking for some suggestions for brown bag non refrigerated options. My partner is attending preparatory classes for an important exam over the next few weeks and he doesn't have access to a fridge so my usual lunch prep won't work. He heads out around 8 and usually eats at around 1. I've done some sandwiches with mustard instead of mayo, but I'm just finding them dry and boring. Any suggestions my friends. Btw he has a peanut allergy.

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  1. Can he bring a somewhat larger lunch cooler with ice packs? I use frozen 500 mL water bottles to keep lunch cold; as they thaw they become something to drink (I'm aware that some folks are concerned about chemicals).

    1 Reply
    1. Using commercial mayonnaise is no problem for brown bag lunches. It's really only a problem if you use home made mayo with raw eggs. In commercially prepared mayo, there is not the same danger.

      2 Replies
      1. re: wyogal

        Totally agree. Can't tell you how many tuna salad sandwiches--made with mayo--that I ate while going to school in Southern California with bologna with mayo and mustard my second favorite. No refrigeration and never caused a problem.

        1. re: wyogal

          That's right. Modern commercial mayo is full of preservatives and it actually acts as a preservative now.

        2. Most cooked meats, deli meats, and raw or cooked vegetables will keep several hours without refrigeration. And most non-mayo salads hold up pretty well too, especially if they are thoroughly chilled and made with enough vinegar and/or lemon juice. Maybe a turkey-pesto sandwich? A bean/grain and herb salad, like tabbouleh? Pasta? If he has access to boiling water, those instant couscous and bean soup cups are OK in a pinch, too.

          I like DuchessNukem's suggestion about the frozen water bottles. Another thing that freezes well and works nicely as an ice pack is yogurt in single-serving cups. They'll be just thawed enough to eat by lunch time.

          1. These are all fabulous suggestions. Most especially the comments about commercial mayo being ok at room temp for a while. I always thought that was big no no.

            2 Replies
            1. re: delys77

              It was a big no-no back in the day when it was homemade.

              1. re: delys77

                You can always purchase the little packages of mayo and mustard at places like Smart & Final, too. Even though I don't worry about mayo so much I worry about soggy sandwiches.

              2. Rice with some stir fried veggies, hard boiled egg, a thick slice of Spam. Yum.

                1. Another idea similar to the water bottle one- I load up my stainless steel water bottle with ice cubes and my drink (strong tea usually) and it keeps everything next to it pretty cool almost all day.

                  I take protein spreads with crackers and pickled veggies often. I like hummus or bean spreads with savory crackers, olives and pickled veg go into a small glass jar.

                  I also like various nut butters ( I don't eat much peanut butter either) and I make a nut mix with various nuts and a chopped up protein bar. Nut butters and spreads with crackers or carrots and celery goes well in lunches with cold soups like gazpacho or cucumber.

                  I also like noodle salads with fresh veggies, oil and rice vinegar.

                  1. This thread also has some super ideas

                    I need to have some protein at lunch; I'm a huge fan of hardboiled eggs; bean/chickpea salads lightly dressed with olive oil, minced red onion, s&p (I carry a couple of lemon slices to "freshen" the salad just before I toss and eat). As a treat, I like to take an assortment of my fave cheeses, cubed (I love salty romano and sharp sharp cheddar), some pepperoni slices and some good crackers with a few olives (black, kalamata, tuna stuffed, you name it).

                    1. I have a reusable nylon lunch bag to which I sometimes add a "blue ice" thing to keep it cold. I have packed lunch in it with a drink, etc. I think I got it from Target or similar.

                      I have done Cheese Ploughman's sandwiches on baguette, baguettes with sausage meats (salami and friends) and I keep the dressing or mustard separate so the bread isn't soggy, tortilla wraps, empanadas, cold fried chicken, cold barbequed baby back ribs and sometimes just some pieces of ham and some sharp cheddar. Easy is my watchword for packed lunch.

                      1. A lot of people I know enjoy the shelf tuna in the foil bag and eat it right out of the bag. A frozen bottled drink keeps the foil pouch cool (if you prefer cold tuna salad) until lunch time.

                        When I run into this dilemma I take whole apples & pears with a nut butter and enjoy slices at lunch and granola, mixed nuts and frozen grapes in a bag.

                        1. I have made rice/bean/veggie burritos and frozen them. They are thawed and ready to eat by lunch.

                          1. Agree with all the comments about mayo not being a problem, but if he leans towards peanut butter-and-jelly-type sandwiches, there are lots of other nut butters available these days: almond, cashew, soy, for example.

                            1. I brown bag Soba Noodles & Edamame with either tahini or herb pesto. I got the idea from reading the "Just Bento Cookbook".

                              Another option might be veggie burgers on whole wheat English Muffin or bread. Nasoya can be used as a mayo substitute.

                              1. Salad in a jar -

                                Also, I have a thermos jars that will keep food warm, but also do a good job at keeping it cold. You could use this for chicken salad or the like. Bread can always be packed on the side if you want a sandwhich.