I gave this some thought today. I don’t often give contributions for recipes on my own blog. (I think I’ve already covered the many reasons for that, here and elsewhere.) But I was thinking about back-to-school ideas and how I always loved to pack a lunch or actually, how I looked forward to whatever was my packed lunch. And though I have to admit, there were times that my lunches were as dull as anyone could figure a dull lunch could get, I also had a few interesting lunches to my memory. Most of most of the interesting lunches were left overs redistributed for packaging reasons, to the next day’s lunch — like lasagna, baked chicken, mac & cheese, dinner salad, spaghetti and meatballs, panini.
I thought I would return a bit to the creative side of lunch for sandwiches.
So a few thoughts. Choosing for wheat bread, or white bread, or pita bread pockets (or a pita sliced in two to make two pockets), or sub rolls (long or short, soft or hard), or kaiser rolls, ciabatta, or even hamburger buns (that’s something someone besides myself might like for making sandwiches) — this will be the bread to use, any of these choices.
Choosing for toasted or un-toasted (bread), with sides cut off or sides uncut — also personal choices, but something to consider.
Choosing for the insides — deli salads or cold cuts or cutlets — we’ll discuss some choices shortly. That is all of our discussion for sandwiches.
It’s not that creative really, but it gets things moving.
Now we have to talk about filling out the bag to making the sandwich experience worthwhile. I think that this is making a bag lunch (or a box lunch; whichever it actually is, is beside the point of necessary discretion), is the selling point of making the sandwich lunch experience worthwhile. I compare it to being able to eat out. If your sandwich bagged lunch is something that compares to the same bag lunch you get from a professional restaurant, even if it isn’t a famous local burger and fries, it has the greatest of potential to be a happy experience.
What kind of appetizers sides might be the best to pair with sandwiches? Needless to say, children of all ages crave a cessation to the sweet tooth tug they feel all day long. It’s safe to make assumptions about pre-bagged sweets or homemade sweets. Let’s just be general and accept that our sandwich homemade “carry-out” bag includes a sweet. My suggestion is not something most people will be happy hearing from a blogger, probably — it is store bought sweet cakes, like Little Debbie, Hostess, Dolly Madison — or Pepperidge Farms (as for instance a couple of large chocolate chip cookies bagged), or a bag of mini-Nabisco chocolate chips.
(It seriously sounds like I am trying to advertise for commerce in this post and that maybe I am making the post for that reason…. Nope!)
If that’s no good, then the other idea I would use, would be to prepare a box cake of choice, like Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker (or of choice), or for instance, any bagged cake, like the kind you find at King Arthur Flour Co., and cut it into pieces for zipper bagging and inclusion in the bag.
Otherwise, with the very excellent creativity you find on the internet (that I am used to sharing), you could always find a way to prepare a “healthy” dessert. All the same, I would include a daily “sweet”. It breaks up a lot of stress and tension in the middle of the day and helps make things brighter.
Ethically, everyone assigned with making someone else’s lunch, parents or others, are interested in preparing something healthy primary goal. Have we covered that? Not especially. So far I have suggested, what might be your average run of the mill salami and ham with mustard and mayonnaise with lettuce leaves on kaiser rolls, maybe even to receive a rude rejection; (especially when I add the suggestion of Swiss or provolone cheese to it). That is why I haven’t suggested that yet. (Maybe someone would like it…. It can surely be altered. It was just my off the top.)
So let’s think healthy and when we do, let’s think lunches that complete to a happy resolution that lunch is a good time of day!
Vegetables. This is what is on everyone’s mind. The sandwich is good, the sweets are good, but the vegetables keep seeming to go bad, because nobody wants them. Is this true? How would that carry-out place do it? (Besides excluding vegetables?)
I suggest preparing cooked, as in steamed for easier travel, vegetables earlier and in time, that can be transported easily by plastic container and plastic utensil in a bag or box and that makes the meal a better one by being a reason to indulge and enjoy a bag of chips! This is my vegetable alternative. Or otherwise, a plastic box packaged vegetable plate, which does not have to be salad, but which includes the combination of several uncooked vegetables, without the lettuce, (which some people don’t seem to like for lunch for some reason); for instance: celery, carrots, cauliflower, radishes, peas, chickpeas, broccoli … I might have gone to far. An uncooked salad, without lettuce anyway. It’s a little radical, maybe I should have left it out and left it at cold steamers.
This portion goes directly to the chips (of any kind).
Let’s return to the sandwiches and review our deli: salads and cold-cuts and cutlets. Boneless cutlet sandwiches, also need to be prepared ahead of time and so might be a bit too much work and nevertheless, should be something to consider — pan-frying the boneless cutlet (chicken or beef) the evening before and leaving it overnight to use first thing in the morning or else microwaving the same from frozen, including fish filet, in the morning — might be too tedious. But it’s something to consider.
Deli salads, are easy to find in the grocery store. Of course, homemade deli salads are also something easy for some people to make. (I offer no suggestions.) Among the favorite, there are ham salads, tuna salads, egg salads — that make good sandwiches. Potato salad, we’ll have to leave out of course; but for the record, there might be someone who thinks that coleslaw sandwiches are good, like me, and so I will include that as well. Also thinking that, you can add cheese to coleslaw and make it a cheese and coleslaw sandwich — easy peazy.
Finally, cold cuts are always plenty and the best ones are best with each other and cheese — so we hope to build something with cold cuts that is two slices of meat and one slice of cheese (two slices of cheese to be extravagant and all 3-4 slices being cheese if we’re making a cheese sandwich). Let’s review some great cold-cuts — ham, of course, who could doubt I’d say ham sandwiches by the end of this post? So, let’s begin there and notice that there are so many different types of ham available, it’s something to look out for. And basically then in addition to ham, also, roast beef (yes I said it! it should be put under consideration despite the expense), turkey, salami, chicken loaf, turkey bologna; (I’m am a complete un-fan of bologna so I am trying to leave it out, but I include turkey bologna and for that matter suggest, some people might like something like olive loaf or pimento loaf which is easy to find, cheap and much healthier than bologna. Being Italian I also would love to suggest something like mortadella as a bologna alternative however, some people might think the fat in it is controversial; it’s still healthier than bologna.)
Now for cheeses — provolone, mozzarella, Swiss, Munster, brick, yellow, cheddar, cream cheese. Those are my basics for the cold cuts. There are others and feel free to call cheese cheese for your own discretion; I’m making the basic suggestion composition for lunch box/bag assembly.
What are we going to call finishing the sandwich? Condiments and vegetables. There is the word vegetables again. Condiments are rather individualistic — ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, sandwich spread, dressing, nothing at all — is something people have to work out for themselves; I completely respect that, let’s move on to vegetables. Should we add vegetables to the sandwich or not? This is pretty much a restauranteur’s question if we are comparing the homemade “carry-out” to ourselves. What would a restaurant say about adding vegetables to sandwiches? I think there are many diverse answers, but I’m going to go with the fast food industry and assume we are going to add a possible group of options in the area of onions, lettuce, tomato and pickle. So I will say a few vegetables under negotiation — or none if that is what the customer negotiates.
Discretion, always discretion. As with the next step. I believe it is the bag chips that will make this lunch. People say that that is the least part of any bag lunch experience, but I think it is the central part. So actually, choosing whatever will be — hopefully a larger bag, opposed to a smaller bag — of chips — will lead the sandwich, vegetable, dessert compilation, into the future of itself with satisfaction of it’s consumption.
This is my idea of back-to-schooling lunches.
It’s pretty basic I admit.
Thought I would try it.
People say I don’t write here much. So I did.
Sheet Pan Shrimp & Sausage Jambalaya