The daily drama of the brown-bag lunch

I hate sandwiches.

I came to this realization while running through my mental checklist last night. What are you wearing tomorrow? Blue top, gray pants, new scarf. What jewelry are you wearing? No necklace, stud earrings. Do you have to get up early to shower? Nope. Did you feed the cat? Yes. Is the TV off? Yes. Have you finished your grad school apps yet? No, okay, no, I am working on it. What about that job you were supposed to apply for? I’m getting there. And do you know where you’re getting married yet? Maybe! Leave me alone. What are you going to have for lunch? Uh…

(My mental checklist is a real downer.)

Yesterday I had leftovers, and we didn’t have any more of those. The noodle bowls are a little pricey so I try to limit those to one per week. Which meant…sandwich.

I don’t hate all sandwiches – BBQ pork sandwiches, panini, anything from Sandwich Express, those are all great. Post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce and post-Christmas ham & cheese sandwiches are the best. The sandwiches that make me cringe are the sad, soft, brown-bag-lunch sandwiches.

Good sandwich

Sad sandwich

Awesome sandwich

I don’t know where this sandwich-phobia started, but boy, is it deep. It seems like no matter what condiments or lunch meat you use, your sandwich is always going to taste pretty much the same. I feel like I’ve been eating the same sandwich since 8th grade. Plus the prep time for a sandwich is somewhat longer than your average Cup O’ Noodles:

1. Get out bread
2. Slice cheese
3. Pick up flung scraps of cheese from floor before the cat eats them
4. Arrange feeble cheese slices on bread
5. Throw useless cheese slicer in dishwasher
6. Add deli meat
7. Rinse meat juice off hands
8. Extract single leaf of lettuce
9. Rinse lettuce because it had a scary dead bug on it earlier
10. Shake lettuce dry thoroughly to avoid making sandwich any squishier (note: this should take approximately 82 seconds)
11. Shred lettuce into sandwich-sized pieces
12. Slice sandwich in half
13. Put sandwich in Tupperware
14. Watch the unrestrained sandwich slide apart in its container
15. Drop in lunch bag anyway because now you’re late and you haven’t brushed your teeth yet

So how can you make your sandwich more awesome, or at least less soul-killingly boring?
-Bring a panini press to work
-Use 42-grain, cinnamon-raisin, or unleavened bread
-Drizzle with hot sauce instead of mayonnaise
-Fill it with french fries

Okay, how about some realistic suggestions? I’m thinking more ciabatta and more exciting cheese, and maybe a dollop of creamy Caesar dressing every once in a while. What do you guys do to improve your lunch routine?


10 thoughts on “The daily drama of the brown-bag lunch

    • Yeah, it’s very tempting to just go out for lunch instead. There’s a Starbucks right there! And a Fred Meyer! Nooo problem! But when a homemade sandwich costs less than a dollar, and lunch out costs $7, it’s pretty hard to justify.

  1. Here’s my sandwich of choice. Ready?

    *Flat quarter of a bell pepper (any and all colors)
    *Cream cheese
    *Tasty veggie like onion or lettuce or spinach
    *Liberal amounts of lunch meat
    *Hearing-loss-inducing amount of seasonings

    It’s open-faced, so I have to bring all the fixins and assemble it during lunchtime, but I don’t need a full half-hour to eat lunch anyway, so it ends up saving me time in the morning. Plus, the pepper acts as the bread, getting rid of a few unnecessary carbohydrates. I’ll eat at least two of these “sandwiches” per lunch. Sometimes I’ll switch it up by substituting avocado or a great sauce for the cream cheese. Yeah, I get funny looks, but it’s simple, quick, and DELICIOUS.

  2. I like wraps better than sandwiches. I take a spinach tortilla, cut up, pre-cooked chicken breast, romaine lettuce, and caesar dressing and make it there. Or you can do rice and teriyaki chicken, or anything else appetizing. Of course, this requires having cooked chicken on hand, but I just make extra when I make dinners and use that. Same with rice.

    As for actual sandwiches, I like to use barbeque, sweet chili, or other kinds of strong sauces, and once again take the elements with me instead of making it ahead of time to avoid sogginess.

    • Wraps are great, but yeah, they do depend on the presence of chicken. I tried to make a wrap with deli turkey once and it didn’t go so well.

      BBQ sauce is a good idea! I can see that being really good with roast beef.

  3. I know you said the hot sauce thing instead of mayo, but if you add a little sriracha in there with the mayo you get a pretty wonderful, spicy, creamy effect. Also, avacado. I’m a firm believer that avacado makes the perfect sandwich. That is, if you like avacado, of course.

    • Heehee, I had to look up sriracha – it looks like it’s similar to sambal paste? If I had a higher spice tolerance, that would be totally delicious!

      I’m still not wild about avocado. There are maybe two kinds of guacamole in the world that I will willingly eat, and one of them is from Chipotle. But I’m trying to work on that. 🙂

  4. Try alfalfa sprouts! I like the texture of those in a sandwich, it’s a good alternative to lettuce which can wilt in a sandwich if left too long. You can also make a batch of chicken, salmon, or egg salad in the weekend, and just scoop it on bread and top it with tomato or onion when you’re ready for a sandwich. Also try getting kaiser and hoagie rolls or pita bread once in a while so you don’t get sick of bread. Hand sliced deli meat and cheese from the deli counter is always better too (less meat juice) and surprisingly not as expensive as you think.

    • Ooh, I didn’t know that about the deli counter. We’ve started getting the sad little packets of Buddig lunch meat that cost about 50 cents and only last for about two sandwiches. Quality meat and bread would make a huge difference.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s