Not Sad Desk Lunch

4 Ways to Make Sure Your Lunch Survives Your Commute

July 28, 2015

As a defiant response to sad desk lunches, the Food52 team works to keep our midday meals both interesting and pretty. 

Today: Learn how to safely transport your lunch from your countertop to desk-side.

Let's have a moment of silence for all the lunches lost due to packed subway cars, unexpected car jostles, and poorly chosen containers. Lunches can be tricky to pack and transport—we have the stained purses and cracked containers to prove it. To add to the difficulty, not all lunches pack alike—brave is he or she who packs that Sloppy Joe the same way they packed last week's grilled cheese. Here are some simple tricks for packing lunch—and making sure it gets to your desk-side in the shape it left your kitchen counter—no matter what the meal:

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1. Last night's dinner

To pack leftovers (things like pasta, chicken, or rice dishes), either pack each component in a separate airtight container, or use a tiffin box to layer them in one easy-to-carry cannister.


2. Large, drippy sandwiches and burgers

Cut out the middleman and eat your sandwich out of a bowl. Place the bulk of our sandwich in an airtight container, packing crisp ingredients like lettuce and potato chips, and toppings like mayonnaise, in a separate container, and turn the bread into croutons. At work, pile the whole thing into a bowl and enjoy.


3. Sandwiches with soggy components (like pickles and tomatoes)

Cookbook author Andrea Nguyen suggests packing sandwiches that have a lot of tomatoes, cucumbers, or other crisp vegetables (like banh mi) tightly wrapped in parchment paper, with the crispier, delicate components in small containers on the side.


4. Soup

A big container of liquid is a recipe for a spilled lunch disaster. If possible, put all of the soup components together at home, then add boiling water at work.

What tips do you have for packing lunch? Tell us in the comments below! 

Top two photos by James Ransom; photo of banh mi by Andrea Nguyen; photo of soup by Mark Weinberg

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1 Comment

702551 July 28, 2015
I suggest using waxed paper instead of parchment; the former is more moisture resistant than the latter. Also, the paper-wrapped items should go in a plastic bag which pretty much guarantees that no liquid will get into whatever container is holding the items (like the brown paper bag illustrated above).

My soups are all broth-based, so "add water at the destination" doesn't work for me. The best alternative is to get a thermos and be careful that it remains upright in transit. Growing up I had no problems carrying soup to school in an old-school thermos in an metal lunchbox.

I use the cheap pint containers from the hardware store for some things. I also have a small collection of glass jars, as well as Mason jars in various sizes.

Lastly, put your food in a carrier that is meant for carrying food (it could be as simple as a paper bag), not your purse/backpack/daybag/whatever. There's a reason for the existence of lunchboxes: if there is an accident, it doesn't get all over your stuff.