Help me think of a portable, filling lunch

I eat lunch on the go (read: while driving, or while pulled over in my car) every single weekday. I’ve been eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, because they’re tasty, cheap, and easy to eat while on the go, but they’re not very healthy. But I can’t seem to think of a good replacement. Any suggestions? Here’s my list of criteria, in rough order of importance:

(1) Must be self-contained/portable/easy to eat on the go. What I mean is, I can’t microwave anything, assembly must be at an absolute minimum, and I can’t refrigerate anything.

(2) It must be filling, both physically and psychologically. I can eat lots of baby carrots, and I know that they’re filling up my stomach, but it doesn’t feel like a meal to me, if you know what I mean. I guess I want a lunch, not a big snack.

(3) It’d be great if it’s healthier than PB&J. If it’s not, I still might work it into the rotation, for the sake of variety.


Sandwiches of many types - egg salad, tuna, salmon, made on frozen bread so they stay fresh until lunch (the frozen bread works beautifully - easy to work with, and it’s just right come lunchtime).

Hard-boiled eggs.

Cold pizza.

Pre-made salads from Safeway/local deli.

Soup in a Thermos[sup]TM[/sup] with crackers. Put it in boiling and it’ll still be hot at lunchtime. Nothing too chunky, so you can simply drink it. No need for spoon (or fork). Add some individually wrapped cheese sticks and a piece of fruit and you have a complete meal.

What, they don’t make lunch coolers and blue ice where you live? Invest in one, and your lunch options will soar.

I love me some cheese sticks (which actually don’t need cooling) and a mix of cashews and raisins (also no cooling). Ok, maybe you don’t need the lunch cooler.

Use large whole wheat tortillas (greater tensile strength than plain white) to wrap whatever sandwich innards you want (turkey, cheese, lettuce, mustard, etc. Squeeze the seeds out of tomatoes before you add them to the wrap, so they don’t soak through). Wrap the botom half of the wrap in parchment paper and tape it to form a "grip for the first half of th eating process. Then wrap the whole thing again for transport. A great eat and drive meal.

Throw leftovers into a tortilla. Instant wrap with infinite variety.

Pocket pies/ Cornish pasties. They can sit at room temp for a few hours without spoiling. I’m eating some for breakfast this week!

I second this one (it’s what I do, mostly because I don’t trust leaving my food in the work fridge).

You can do sandwiches of all kinds, a cold bento box, salad, use a thermos for soups. Sometimes I take just a buttered roll with cheese and sausage. Sausage rolls alone can be good, pair it with some fruit and/or cheese and something to drink and you’re good.

Make hummus sandwiches, using pita bread or tortilla’s. Put in some hummus and various veggies. If in a tortilla roll it up, or put it in the pocket of the pita.

Fajitas left from the previous night’s supper taste good cold, as does pizza.

Granola bars/trail mix are both very filling. Add a banana or an apple to complete the meal.

Into a largish plastic food container, put the following:

Half a drained can of chick peas
Ditto of tuna
Some whole pitted black olives
Fresh cracked pepper
A bit of chopped onion
Tablespoon or two of wine vinegar
Quarter of a cup of olive oil

Put the top of the plastic container on, shake it up and voila, instant tuna and garbanzo salad, which should keep two or three hours with no refrigeration. It’s very filling and good for you. Add an apple and some carrot sticks and you’re good to go.

If you make it with all natural peanut butter and whole grain bread, PB&J is not that unhealthy. There’s still some fat in it, but it’s unsaturated and you get a good bit of protein with it. It beats the heck out of a BigMac™.

Thanks–I hadn’t heard that tip before.

If you trust Rachael Ray, she claims that salads made with non-mayo dressing don’t have to be refrigerated and are safe to carry around for a few hours. Is pasta salad an option? Make a big bowl with filling ingredients (tuna, olives, cheese) and have a portion each day?

I eat the same lunch pretty much every day: turkey sandwich (fixed the way I like it) and a gigantic apple.

Gigantic apples always seem to fill me up and stick suprisingly well. Plus they’re portable, self-contained, reasonbly sturdy, require no refrigeration and have lots of water. YMMV.

A banana with just about any kind of lunch will fill you up.

Even better are the whole grain wraps they sell in most grocery stores. And in place of fresh tomatoes, try sun dried. They are absolutely delicious and no leakage!

You can do any meat and cheese combo or just veggies and wrapping is easy. It’s also a snap to eat and drive.
I eat in the car most days too. I have a coller with the blue ice thing and usually do lots of fruits and veggies as snacks too.

Probably unhealthy as all hell, but some of my favorites for on-the-go consumption:

  • Cube salami and cheese, drop in a plastic container with a lid and add some de-pitted olives. A side of crackers will fill it out (and fill you up). Add lettuce or spinach if you’re planning to pull over and eat that day and you’ve got a full-fledged salad. Italian dressing (or plain oil and vinegar) will keep very well, and will help keep the greens from wilting.

  • Frozen sammich. Make your favorite – mine’s bologna and cheese with mayo – the night before and stick it in the freezer. Take it with you the next morning and by lunchtime it’ll be thawed, but still cold enough to have been safe. I don’t recommend leaving it in your car in the sun, though; stick it under the seat at the very least. :slight_smile: I personally use insulated lunchbags, which do the trick nicely and don’t take up as much space as a mini-cooler.

  • Stuffed 'maters. Take a few Roma tomatoes (or large cherry tomatoes, I suppose), core them almost all the way through (leaving a bit on the bottom, so there’s only one hole in the tomato), and fill it with whatever sounds good that will keep. I like to roll a bit of thin-sliced ham or turkey around some cheese and stuff that in the middle. Trim off the bit that sticks out and use it in another. Two or three of these is all it’ll take, you can eat them one-handed on the go, and they don’t require refrigeration (as long as they’re chilled when you start out for the day, that is). Other fillings: tuna salad mix, cottage cheese, pepperoni slices, crumbled day-old garlic bread (yum!), etc.