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What shall I eat for lunch?
March 10, 2009 6:52 AM   Subscribe

What else can I keep at my desk for making sandwiches? I'm bored of peanut butter and jam.

I keep PB and jam at my desk in the office. That way, I can just grab some bread on leaving the house in the morning, and make a sandwich at my desk when I get hungry at lunchtime.

PB and jam are nice, but I tire of them. What other sandwich fillings can I keep *at my desk* without refrigeration. Sweet and savoury both good. I'm vegetarian, but I doubt that's relevant here (meat not being shelf stable, and all that).
posted by Tapioca to Food & Drink (31 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Nutella!
posted by glider at 6:57 AM on March 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Marmite!
posted by Jinkeez at 7:06 AM on March 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I completely 2nd the Nutella recommendation.

Also, some like honey and peanut butter sandwiches.
posted by Brettus at 7:06 AM on March 10, 2009


I love tomato sandwiches when tomatoes are in season; one smallish tomato per two sandwiches. Avocado sandwiches!! Also, banana and peanut butter is yummy, but you might want to try some other nut butters for variety. These would all require keeping produce at your desk (in a tupperware container, say) for a couple of days (a small avocado or banana would probably be enough for two days of sandwiches, a tomato could be one or two), but most offices seem pretty chilly to me. At least as chilly as a cellar, where people used to keep most of their produce.
posted by taz at 7:07 AM on March 10, 2009


This may sound rediculous, but I do it.

Keep a toaster at your desk and cinnamon and sugar and butter/margarine packets and make cinnamon toast. You could also make peanut butter toast or toast with jelly. This is basically the same thing you have been eating, but toast always tastes better to me.
posted by Brettus at 7:09 AM on March 10, 2009


Its not cheap, but cashew butter is very very good.
posted by Dave. at 7:10 AM on March 10, 2009


Vegemite of course or Honey. - but you don't actually just eat that sort of thing everyday do you? Doesn't sound particularly healthy.

Also there are quite a few vegetable / Fruit options that would be ok

- Tomatoes will generally keep at least a week or so (and do not need refrigeration)

- Bananas I used to like Peanut Butter banana and honey sandwiches

- Avocadoes don't need refrigeration until you have 'opened' them.

- technically whole cured salami's would keep ok in a coolish place they doin't actually need refrigeration. you might want to get good quality ones though.

- you could boil and egg in the morning while you grab the bread?

- tahini (Sesame seed paste keeps much like Peanut butter I think)

- 'butters' made of other nuts? I used to get this Cashew Nut Butter from somewhere that was quite delicvious. And I've seen Macadamia Nut Butter as well somewhere.

- Cold canned Baked Beans.. I used to eat them like that as a kid but I'm not sure now.

- Canned Tuna or other Canned Fish / sardines, herring, rollmops. etc they actually come in Sandwich sized portions.
posted by mary8nne at 7:11 AM on March 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Butter (yes, it will keep)
Sugar
Fruit - Bananas, pears, etc
Cheese
Vegetables - Peppers, tomatoes,
Spreads - PB, jams, nutella, honey, preserves


(PS. You're wrong about meat. Cured meats should be fine. Some Salami for example can sit around for a long time. Also small cans of tuna or sardines. Also hard-boiled eggs.)
posted by vacapinta at 7:14 AM on March 10, 2009


Vacapinta, sugar sandwiches? Really?
posted by Tapioca at 7:17 AM on March 10, 2009


I dont' actually eat it myself but there are some processed cheeses that will keep out of the fridge. The iconic one being the French laughing Cow:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Laughing_Cow

it comes in little triangles that are perfect for smearing across toast with a little tomoatoe and freshly cracked pepper.

- A full Pepper Cracker! - I used to keep one of those in the work kitchen
posted by mary8nne at 7:17 AM on March 10, 2009


There are a lot of sandwich ingredients that don't have to be refrigerated until the package is opened. (e.g. Cheez Whiz, mayonnaise). You could probably get single-serving packets of these at a restaurant supply place.
posted by winston at 7:31 AM on March 10, 2009


mayonnaise needs to be refrigerated - as its made of raw egg.
posted by mary8nne at 7:41 AM on March 10, 2009


pumpkin butter

apple butter

sunflower butter (similar to peanut butter, but better)
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:42 AM on March 10, 2009


Tomato and a hard cheese won't keep as long as pb&j but it will last a couple of days at least depending on the climate in your office.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 8:03 AM on March 10, 2009


dulce de leche

mayo packet + small plum tomato + black pepper = mmm

For borderline perishable items like cured meats and cheese, look into the quality Italian versions of items, as suggested by Mary8nne & Vacapinta. When I was drooling over this book every Italian butcher seems to be crowded with salumi swinging from the ceilings. Italian "salumi" is the same as French "charcuterie;" these sausages are salted, cured, and dried. The salt kills microbes, the nitrates prevent botulism, and the lack of moisture gives bacteria no food to grow on. The layer of white mold (on most storebought salami this is peeled off with a paper wrapper, don't get grossed out, it's no worse than mold on brie) prevents harmful mold from growing.

So, yeah, Hickory Farms salami lunchmeat is a no go, but a quality artisanal salami or pepperoni or some Spanish chorizo* will be fine.

Historically, salami has been popular among Italian peasants because it can be stored at room temperature for periods of up to a year, supplementing a possibly meager or inconsistent supply of fresh meat.

*Not Mexican chorizo! As much as I love it, you can't eat it without cooking, much less keep it your desk.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:20 AM on March 10, 2009


It doesn't answer your question directly, but I'm in the same boat as you. I recently started keeping a plastic Glad bowl in my drawer with a couple packs of ramen noodles for those days where I couldn't stomach one more PB&J sandwich.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 8:40 AM on March 10, 2009


The poster is vegetarian - read the whole question!

Salted butter will keep adequately without refrigeration - unsalted will go rancid really quickly.

If it doesn't have to be a sandwich, there are various hard cheeses (aged asiago, three-year gouda) that keep fine for a couple-three days without refrigeration; some cheese, an apple, and a hardboiled egg make a pretty good lunch.

If you grab a tomato and/or avocado and some cheese - even a decent, aged, sharp cheddar - you've got yourself the makings for a great sandwich. I promise that leaving the cheese unrefrigerated for a workday will not hurt it (I am a former cheesemonger), unless your office is 80 degrees, and even then, your cheese will just get kind of soft. Keep it in a ziplock bag or small tupperware so you don't have to carry plastic wrap with you.
posted by rtha at 8:46 AM on March 10, 2009


Canned Tuna works well for this sort of thing, not sure if you're ok with that.

mayonnaise needs to be refrigerated - as its made of raw egg.

While mayonnaise is made with raw egg, it is also made with vinegar. It is more or less pickled scrambled egg with some oil. I have seen squeeze bottles of mayo that have 'no refrigeration required' on the side, with no special preservatives in the ingredient list. The important part being that it was a squeeze bottle, so that you aren't introducing contamination by sticking your knife in the jar.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 9:01 AM on March 10, 2009


My fiancee finds this totally gross but I love it - condensed milk and sprinkles/jimmies.

Or butter and sugar.

heh....I need to cut back on my sugar intake :)
posted by 7life at 9:11 AM on March 10, 2009


I'm sorry that this is a sideways answer to the question, but have you considered getting a $5 insulated lunch bag? I pack my lunch in one every day, and I commute by bus. There are no issues with it being too heavy/bulky, and I haven't gotten salmonella even once.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:26 AM on March 10, 2009


Tofu? Might be kinda bland on its own, but if you drain the water and combine it with some sort of spread or veggies, it'd probably be doable.
posted by anderjen at 9:32 AM on March 10, 2009


Cheese in a spray can. No fridge needed.
posted by exphysicist345 at 9:58 AM on March 10, 2009


Thanks for all for the varied suggestions. Tomorrow I'm going to eat a cheese-tomato-nutella-marmite-ramen-tofu-sugar-sprinkles-apple sandwich.

Everyone who passed the reading comprehension test and suggested veggie-friendly foods gets a best answer.

Mudpuppie: I have one of those lunchbags, and use it on mornings I'm organised enough to pack a lunch. The question was really for the (far more frequent) mornings when I just grab some bread on the way out the door.

Bretta: I do love cinnamon toast, but unfortunately toasters are out - I'd worry about setting off fire alarms and / or annoying my colleagues with the smell.
posted by Tapioca at 10:19 AM on March 10, 2009


Definitely tomatoes and avocados, in season. My favourite lunch used to be a couple slices of toasted sourdough bread, a half avocado mashed on each, and a diced tomato on top, sprinkled with salt and pepper, eaten open face. *drool*

Also good, if strange-sounding upon reading: cabbage and peanut butter sandwiches. Cabbage keeps for quite a long time, and if you do like in the photo and just take a cross-section, there's minimal drying. You can mix it up with Nutella, other nut butters, spicy stuff like chipotles, olive tapenade, etc.

A friend of mine used to swear by tahini-honey sandwiches, if you're not worried about calories and the sugar rush.

I've had those Laughing Cow spreadable cheese wedges, and I'll attest to their being pretty good as well.

You could keep some pitas around, and some slightly hardier veg (broccoli and cauliflower florets, carrots, mushrooms, olives, and avocado would be a good 'emulsifier' without using mayo or other fatty things of questionable preservational status), and then drop the veg in the pitas.

Depending on the type of veggie you are, some hard-boiled eggs? They'll keep for a while, and can be sliced up pretty easily and tossed in a sandwich.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 10:24 AM on March 10, 2009


If you want to keep butter unrefrigerated, get a butter bell (something like this). You fill it with cool water every few days, and the butter will last for weeks without going rancid. As a bonus, it's nice and soft!

On the other hand, butter isn't the most healthy ingredient for sandwiches.
posted by wyzewoman at 10:31 AM on March 10, 2009


I have started making my lunches the night before, and wraps keep particularly well (and maybe improve with an overnight in the fridge) These Flat-Out Wraps (annoying flash, sorry) are pretty tasty and high in fiber. A fave: a spread of hummus or pesto, roasted red peppers (roast them yourself with a little olive oil, salt & pep @ 400 °F, I make extra when I have them for dinner, or from a jar) or other roasted veggies, fresh veggies such as lettuce, spinach, shredded carrots, whatever you like. It should keep ok until lunch time unrefrigerated (especially if you keep it in the fridge the night before) or toss it in your lunch bag with an ice pack or a can of soda to keep cool.

If you'd like to give salads a shot this salad bowl has a little ice pack built in and a cup for dressing. I keep a bowl of salad greens in a salad spinner at home, and cut up enough veggies for 2-3 days worth of salads. I keep the veggies separate until I make the salad since cucumber and peppers can get a little watery. I keep a bag of croutons in my desk drawer. You could also pack a small container of hummus and some pita for a nice side. If you have a microwave, toss the pita in for 10-15 seconds, or a toaster also works if you have that.
posted by sararah at 12:05 PM on March 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Peanut butter and Banana.

Cut the banana in half and then cut each half lengthwise into strips. Add peanut butter and miracle whip. I don't think that mayonnaise would work here, it really has to be miracle whip. If you can find miracle whip in those little aluminum packets you'd be all set. The banana and condiments would be portable, and the peanut butter can remain in your desk.

sounds weird, but trust me
posted by clearly at 12:53 PM on March 10, 2009


It's not quite as quick as a jar of peanut butter, but what about keeping some instant hummus around? It just needs water. And then you can add all kinds of herbs/spices (red pepper flakes, basil, etc.) to vary it up a bit.

Hummus sandwiches are my usual I'm-too-tired-to-actually-make anything meal.
posted by darksong at 3:02 PM on March 10, 2009


this might sound weird, but is unnaturally delicious: tahini and honey. especially mixed together into a paste.
posted by timory at 6:25 PM on March 10, 2009


I just thought of some other possibilities: sundried tomatoes in oil, some pestos, some chutneys, roasted red pepper strips in oil. Check labels about refrigeration. Any of this with thin sliced cucumber would be delish!
posted by taz at 3:46 AM on March 11, 2009


A lot of fruits go well with the harder cheeses mentioned above, or perhaps even some nut butters (I haven't tried it, but I could see it being good). This would be a great no-brainer approach--just buy a bunch of unripe fruits (peaches, pears, plums, avocados, tart apples) and keep in a brown paper bag in your desk drawer. Lunchtime rolls around, you reach in, grab whatever's ripened in the interim, and have a surprise sandwich.

If you want to go all fancy, try keeping an herb pot on your desk, like rosemary or basil. They smell great, are "festive", and you can then have a plum sandwich with rosemary and cashew butter, or peaches (and tomatoes!) with shaved parmesan and fresh basil leaves.

A small batch of pepper puree or tomato jam could be a good condiment as well, especially to mix things up a bit .
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 1:37 PM on March 11, 2009


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