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Adult Lunchables

Hi all

I pack my partner a lunch most weekdays, typically there is some fruit, yogurt, a green salad, and turkey sandwich (with pesto mayo and roasted red peppers). He hasn't complained yet but I would be totally sick of that turkey sandwich by now if I were him.

In my case I often bring left overs to work but he isn't a fan of this and prefers a sandwich.

Just wondering if any other chowhounds out there are prepping sandwiches for take out by any of the adults in their lives (partner, parent, older kids). Not to say that he wouldn't like PB and J, but I don't think that is the route I want to take ha ha.

Thoughts anyone?

He isn't vegetarian but a veggie sandwich is ok. He has a fridge so the sandwich can be kept cool, and he isn't partial to fish. Thanks in advance for any great ideas.

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  1. Some great ideas here...

    Cilantro chutney or pesto with cream cheese with or w/out cucumbers on sliced bread of choice.

    Grilled/sauteed veggies w/ pepper jack on wheat tortilla

    4 Replies
    1. re: ceekskat

      Thanks ceekskat

      There are a whole lot of suggestions in that thread. I wonder how roasted veggies would fair if the sandwich was assembled several hours before it was eaten.

      1. re: delys77

        Why not pack them separately and he can slap the veggies on the bread just before eating? I did that for years when I was working.

        1. re: delys77

          a vegetarian version of a muffaletta would only get better by sitting and marinating :)

        2. re: ceekskat

          You can do mix and match condiments and proteins. Firm tofu that's been marinated in soy, honey and rice vinegar and then grilled with a wasabi mayonnaise. Grilled vegetables with a green goddess sauce in a pita. Thin slices of pork tenderloin with chutney. Roast beef with horseradish sauce. And then mix up the veggies - red onions, arugula, spinach, mesclun mix, leaves of little gems.

        3. How about other meats/proteins? Egg salad, chicken salad, sliced ham come to mind.

          Wraps are always a good change, using tortillas or lavash. You can put all sorts of fillings, even leftovers. I love making chicken curry wraps when I have leftover chicken curry.

          Crackers, cheese and sliced meat is always a great adult Lunchable. Add some grapes and sliced apples to make a nice box of munchies.

          5 Replies
          1. re: boogiebaby

            How do you find the wrap holds up if you pack make the sandwich in the morning then pack it for lunch.

            1. re: delys77

              You need to prethink your assembly order. It is best to have cheese, lettuce, or solid meat as the first thing atop the flatbread, which you've spread with mayo or other thick, nonwatery spread, if desired. Keep the chicken salad, relishes, and the like cushioned that way. It doesn't matter so much if the bread touches it at the inside of the roll, but keep the exterior as dry as possible, and wrap well in foil or plastic wrap that can be peeled away as the wrap is eaten. If he's clumsy, remind him not to remove the foil completely, or include a thick napkin to use as a bib if he's a white collar worker.

              1. re: greygarious

                Very thoughtful post, thanks greygarious.

            2. re: boogiebaby

              respectfully disagree with sending a premade egg salad sandwich for lunch.
              the mayo in the filling does bad things to the bread, not to mention that often the egg salad will start to smell after that many hours.

              1. re: westsidegal

                I've both brought egg salad sandwiches to work and also have seen premade egg salad sandwiches at stores and cafes before. I'm not sure what you mean by it does bad thing to the bread (makes it soggy?) but I don't use much mayo in mine -- it's not liquidy or anything like that. If that's a concern, you can simply spread a thin layer of butter or margarine on the bread slices to prevent the moisture from seeping into the bread. Also, if you keep it wrapped in a bag or plastic wrap in the fridge, it's ok smell wise. I wouldn't recommend keeping it at room temp. unless you've got a couple ice packs or something.

            3. Plenty of people choose to eat the same lunch every day, so I would ask him, in a nice way, if he'd like some variety. If so, he may have some specific requests. Just be sure to make it clear that you won't feel he's imposing to want some changes. Or buy some deli meat you'd like for your own lunches, or make something like egg salad or chicken salad, ostensibly for yourself, and casually ask if he'd like that, or the turkey.

              1. I have the same issue. My SO seems fine with it. I have nothing exciting for the sandwiches, other than throwing a pickled pepper or carrot on top! Some additions to sandwhiches I have used are:

                smoothies (with a good cup, you can just shake before drinking) or a lassi
                soup, sometimes homemade, sometimes out of a can (get a good small thermos and a plastic bowl if needed)
                grain salads, such as quinoa, farro etc.
                chicken salad (only if there are leftovers of chicken from something)
                fruit mixed with yogurt
                cottage cheese
                baby bells and crackers
                trail mix, chips or pretzels
                sweets: chocolate pretzels, cookies etc.

                1 Reply
                1. re: cleopatra999

                  I think grain salads are a good place to switch things up. Change the grain, add in whatever left over veg you have, maybe some left over meat or canned beans, toss with some olive oil or salad dressing and you're good.

                2. Just had a thought, I know my SO would not like, but it is one of my favourites.
                  Falafel, served in pita with hummus/tahini/hot peppers, onions, lettuce, tomatoes and tatziki. (Hopefully he does not need to breath too close to people)

                  1. For a while I was making my own "adult lunchables" to take to work. In my mini bento box I'd include ham or mortadella, havarti or brie, Akmak or other good crackers and some olives. Definitely an improvement over the original.

                    I actually thought this is what you were looking for when I saw this topic!

                    The women in my office really liked the idea but most of the men were unimpressed so your SO might not be either.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Pwmfan

                      We are both men (same sex couple) and I'm definitely impressed by your adult lunchables.

                      1. re: delys77

                        I apologize for my assumption. Clearly you have better taste than my coworkers!

                        1. re: Pwmfan

                          No worries on the assumption, it is a very reasonable one.

                        2. re: delys77

                          It is the thought that counts and you are a nice young man for preparing his lunch daily.He is lucky!

                          1. re: Lillipop

                            Ah that is sweet to say, thank you very much! If I didn't make him lunch he'd likely just eat something terrible.

                            1. re: delys77

                              Is he open to healthy options or all-veggie ones? Sigh, I once sent Mr. Pine to work with a whole-grain bread sandwich, filled with home-ground almond butter and sprinkled with sunflower seeds. That evening, he brought it back home, minus one U-shaped bite, saying "what on earth was this supposed to be?" Hope your partner is more willing to try something new!

                              1. re: pine time

                                He is pretty good for that sort of thing. I don't expect he would complain unless something he hated made a reappearance. At least Mr. Pine gave it a try, even if ony a small one ha ha.

                      2. I usually buy a slice of pizza or bring a sandwich for lunch. The sandwiches I make are usually from leftover meat from previous dinners, egg salad, chicken salad or tuna salad. I use whatever bread I have on hand - preferably wheat if I go and pick some up.

                        1. mine goes on kicks... right now we're in a grain salad phase... Trader Joe's has these bags of quick cooking (10 minutes) farro, bulgur and barley. i will pick one, cook it up, then toss in a bunch of stuff and some dressing... right now the combo of choice is grain + diced marinated artichokes + diced roasted peppers + pimento olives (cut in half) + diced fresh mozzarella + homemade lemon white wine vinaigrette. it gets better sitting for a while. he likes it right out of the fridge, slightly heated, or right off of the stove.

                          if you want to go a mock "lunchable" route, you could do an antipasti platter... some smoked meats, cheeses, broccoli rabe al limone, chickpeas, olives, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, etc.

                          things that taste better or function well as leftovers--
                          -chinese food like chicken chow mein (homemade or not), dumplings, etc.
                          -polenta allowed to set overnight in the fridge, cut into cubes/squares and served with pesto/tapenade/tomato sauce
                          -chilled quiche/frittata

                          for deconstructed sandwiches to be reassembled, the pita works well, as it's easy just to stuff things into on the spot.

                          is there a microwave at work? if not, any interest in sending a thermos with hot foods?

                          good man you are, and i'm sure he appreciates it and all the effort you go to...

                          1. I had a coworker at one point who would bring the exact same lunch every day for years. Rolls with sliced ham lunch meat, a banana, some cookies, a drink box. He was totally happy with it, but I'd get bored after a week.

                            The simplest thing to do would be to vary the protein. Buy roasting meat (pork loin, beef, ham, etc) when they're on sale, roast them up, and slice thinly - you can freeze them to store. Or some good salami or other cured meat, or some bacon. Add in a slice of cheese - cheddar, havarti, a spread of cream cheese, smoked gouda, etc.

                            For other toppings - mustards, wasabi mayo, Indian lime pickle (really good with turkey), horseradish, sliced pickled hot peppers or sliced cucumber pickles, etc.

                            And try different breads - white bread, dark bread, bagels, rolls, croissants...

                              1. Do you think he would eat leftover homemade pizza? It's kind of like a sandwich. At least it has bread! I put a wide variety of toppings on my pizzas and they are delicious the next day, even served cold. Two of our favorites are fig, caramelized onion and goat cheese on a white crust and smoked mozzarella, broccoli and walnut on a whole wheat crust. They're easy to pack and would go well with his green salad and yogurt.

                                You're lucky your partner eats what you send. My son is served a healthy, homemade meal every day at school, but if it seems too "weird" (how is roast pork loin stuffed with fruit weird?), he'll buy the crap out of the vending machine instead.

                                1. salami and cream cheese on a bagel would be nice to me. I think hummus or olive cream cheese on a bagel would be nice too. Peanutbutter and honey on an english muffin would be a change. You could make a Asian style chicken salad with a bunch of crunchy veggies and send lettuce to make wraps. Braunschweiger on pumpernickle would be another different option. A nice muffaletta made up in advance to let it marry by lunch would make me very happy. There are alot of great suggestions here to give a try. Oh, curried chicken salad would work also

                                  1. All wonderful suggestions, thanks so much all.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: delys77

                                      I like emmethaler & garlic mustard on wheat. Sometimes, I add some baby spinach.

                                    2. When I pack tuna salad or egg salad or anything like that for my hubby to take to work I pack the "salad" in a screw-top tupperware type container and then put the bread in its normal sandwich bag. As long as I include a spoor or something he can assemble his own sandwich and the mayo based salad doesn't sog the bread up.

                                      Oh and I quite frequently pack PB&J's because he likes them. Who cares if its "adult" or not, he likes them. Sometimes I do them with jalepeno or other hot pepper jelly just to spice things up.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Ariadanz

                                        This, IMHO, is unneeded. I often make chicken, egg or a tuna salad sandwich for my lunch. Between the time I assemble the sandwich (usu. around 8 am) and the time I eat it (usu. around 1 pm), I never notice any sogginess. Maybe it's the bread - I almost always use some type of wheat bread -, and maybe it's because I usually refrigerate the sandwich upon arriving at work, but assembling the sandwich at my desk has always seemed an unnecessary (and slightly dorky) step to me.

                                      2. I pack bento style lunches for the hubby. This started as a way to cut carbs. I use the bento techniques but usually don't do things that require lots of rice or bread. Not everything I put in them is Asian anyway. The packing and selection lends itself well to adding more unusual things and variety into a lunch.

                                        I do deli meat rolls frequently that are usually some sort of thin sliced meat rolled around things like baby corn, pickle spears, mixes of veggies and something to hold them together. Some other things like hard boiled eggs, tamagoyaki and cut veggies work to fill out.