Everyday Cooking

Your Best Lunch Advice

October 29, 2013

As a defiant response to Sad Desk Lunches, the Food52 team works to keep our midday meals both interesting and pretty. Each week, in partnership with Earthbound Farm, we'll be sharing our happiest desk lunches -- and we want to see yours, too.

Today: We bring you an end to sad lunches. 

Weekday Warrior on Food52

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This past Wednesday, triumphant lunch-packers everywhere gathered for a Twitter chat co-hosted by us and Earthbound Farm. Those who have mastered the art of BYO lunch-lore supplied tips and strategies for midday bliss. The creator of Sad Desk Lunch herself, Kira Fisher (@Kiixfish), even chimed in with tips as to how she prevents blue lunches. And thanks to everyone who participated, the #NotSadDeskLunch hashtag even became a trending topic on Twitter! 

Here are some of the most helpful tips and most enviable lunches we heard about during our chat:

Avoid sogginess at all costs.

  • @EatingMadeEasy: "Put greens on either side of sandwich fillings next to bread, & leave tomatoes separate!"
  • @kiiixfish: "Keep [salad] dressing in leftover small jam jars and toss when you're ready to eat!"

Keep it simple.

‏Practice safe transportation.

  • @tamurrow: "Transporting [lunch] in the proper vessel!"

More: Keep yourself stocked up with the best tupperwares and tiffins.

Lunch Cubes on Food52 Lunch Carrier on Food52

Keep your desk stocked like a pantry.

  • @tkretchmar goes the gourmet route with Fini balsamic, sansho, togorashi, sriracha, Ortiz anchovies, and pine nuts. Fini is critical for skyr yogur in the mornings.
  • Also: Everyone loves almonds! 

Save your salad from a bad dye job.

  • @kiiixfish onced mixed roasted beets with greens and it dyed her entire salad a horrible purple color. 
  • To prevent this, @earthboundfarm keeps them wrapped in some tinfoil atop their salads until lunchtime.

Use the large batch method (side note: this is the lunch of our dreams).

Veggie Chili on Food52 Avocado Cornbread on Food52 

Tell us: How do you keep your lunches happy?


We're partnering with Earthbound Farm to bring you always fresh, never sad lunch ideas. Because dinner shouldn't be the only time that you put care into what you're eating.

Listen Now

Join The Sandwich Universe co-hosts (and longtime BFFs) Molly Baz and Declan Bond as they dive deep into beloved, iconic sandwiches.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jennifer
  • saragrad
  • Katelinlee
  • cookinginvictoria
  • creamtea
Lactose intolerant cheese lover, who will walk blocks for a good cup of coffee. Recently escaped the corporate world, after discovering her favorite part of the job was ordering catering.


Jennifer October 29, 2013
If you eat at your desk--keep some good quality salt there. Just about anything on anyone's list will be happier with a littler saline perking up.
saragrad October 29, 2013
I do like sandwiches and salads for lunch (and dinner too) but if I don't get to have a hot lunch every other day, I will feel very sad eating yet another cold lunch. This is especially so in the colder months!
Katelinlee October 29, 2013
I always keep a good loaf of bread in the office freezer for emergencies or to add to a scant day of leftovers. With cheese, peanut butter, pesto, jam, avocado, nutella...
cookinginvictoria October 29, 2013
What a great Twitter conversation. My two favorite tricks these days to elevate sandwiches from the pedestrian to the sublime are the sriracha-laced mayo that vvvannessa writes about in her delicious Yum Dogs Recipe (http://food52.com/recipes/12425-yum-dogs) and the roasted onion technique perfected by Merrill in her tomato salad recipe (http://food52.com/recipes/23677-tomato-salad-with-corn-summer-squash-and-roasted-onions). I also do a fair number of grain salads (usually with leftover roasted vegetables) and lots of soups in the fall/winter.
creamtea October 29, 2013
Fig jam for sandwiches with good bread and cheese (current favorite, Eli's pecan and raisin bread with Beecher's cheddar or with Manchego)
Harissa or salsa for half a baked potato or a cheese sandwich or for leftover chick peas.
chick peas
baked potato (see above)
yogurt-based salads
plain yogurt + scallions/dill/parsley + sliced cucumbers
chopped salad + yogurt

AntoniaJames October 29, 2013
That was such a great chat last week! Although I no longer have to take my lunch to work, I still manage my kitchen in this respect as if I did. (I have a busy law practice, so although I always make time to sit down at a table for lunch, I typically have little time to prepare it mid-day.)

One of my favorite techniques is to double the non-lettuce/greens ingredients in the salads I make in the evening.

Then, after the salad has been dressed and tossed, I remove from the bottom of the salad bowl just the extras; I put them in a medium storage box. I put extra (undressed) greens gently on top -- and I rely on Earthbound Farms "baby" greens of various kinds regularly for this! -- cover, and refrigerate. Come lunchtime, I mix the dressed (now marinated veggies) into quinoa, cauliflower "couscous" and/or whatever beans cooked in aromatics I have, and then toss with the greens.

I keep on hand, always, a good supply of toasted nuts and seeds, so I typically toss on a handful or two of those, to give it a bit of texture.

This time of year, I also reserve chunks of butternut squash, sweet potatoes, roasted root veggies when I roast them for dinner, to add as well.

Lunch is never sad here. Ever. ;o)