Tired of throwing away my lunch.

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Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby gametaku » Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:33 pm UTC

In the morning, I pack myself a lunch as follows

Use a lunch cooler similar to this one (mine is gray)

Put in an ice pack at the bottom.
Wrap up a couple of slices of lunch meat and place that on the ice pack.

Put bread slices into sandwich tupperware, and place on top of lunch meat.

Next to those go a small container that has a bit of mayonnaise. As well as a knife.


Now when I get to school, I eat my lunch as follows
1. Take out bread, and notice that it's now soggy.
2. Throw away lunch
3. Go to Wawa and buy a hoagie


Any ideas on how I can pack a better lunch? I have no access to a fridge or microwave, and the food needs to last 6 hours. I'm getting up around 5:30 so I would prefer not to get up any earlier.
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Re: Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:53 pm UTC

When I had packed lunches at school, I'd wrap my sandwiches in tinfoil and that seemed to stop them getting soggy.
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Re: Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby Yakk » Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:32 pm UTC

Air tight containers with bread in them can result in soggy bread, especially if the temperature drops.

The ability for air to hold mosture goes down when it gets cold, which is why you get condensation on cold surfaces, and foggy breath when you breathe out in the cold.

The moisture content of the bread and the air in the container was below condensation at the temperature you packed it in, but when cooled down by proximity to your cold pack, it condensed.

So you can see how you got soggy bread, right?

A two-chamber lunch cooler would help, because you can separate the extreme-temperature stuff (be it cooled meat, or warm stuff) from the room-temperature stuff.
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Re: Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby Роберт » Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:06 pm UTC

gametaku wrote:1. Take out bread, and notice that it's now soggy.
2. Throw away lunch
3. Go to Wawa and buy a hoagie

Here's my modified method:

1. Take out bread, and notice that it's now soggy.
2. Eat it anyway
3. ????
4. Profit

Edit: seriously though, you could keep a bag of bread separate from the fixings.
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Re: Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby PAstrychef » Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:53 am UTC

Buy better bread! If you are using the air-filled sliced cheap bread, it will become soggy as soon as it gets out of the wrapper. A denser loaf will help, is better for you, is more filling and tastes better, too.
Try wrapping the bread in a paper towel or napkin and see if that helps.
Toast the bread before packing it, driving out much of the moisture.
I have made up my sandwich, packed it in a sandwich box and put it in a bag, and eaten it hours later with no noticeable sogginess.
Or you could move to crackers or crisp breads.
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Re: Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby Nath » Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:34 am UTC

If toasting, you probably want to let the bread cool to room temperature before sealing it away.

Since you are separating the bread from the filling, I'm surprised at the sogginess. I wonder if the ice pack has something to do with it (condensation?). The meat, cheese and mayo could probably use the cooling, but maybe the bread should be separated from the ice pack by some insulation -- say, crumpled up paper.
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Re: Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby gametaku » Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:57 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:Buy better bread! If you are using the air-filled sliced cheap bread, it will become soggy as soon as it gets out of the wrapper. A denser loaf will help, is better for you, is more filling and tastes better, too.
Try wrapping the bread in a paper towel or napkin and see if that helps.
Toast the bread before packing it, driving out much of the moisture.
I have made up my sandwich, packed it in a sandwich box and put it in a bag, and eaten it hours later with no noticeable sogginess.
Or you could move to crackers or crisp breads.


Hmm, I'll see what I can find something besides sliced bread.

Yakk wrote:
Air tight containers with bread in them can result in soggy bread, especially if the temperature drops.

The ability for air to hold mosture goes down when it gets cold, which is why you get condensation on cold surfaces, and foggy breath when you breathe out in the cold.

The moisture content of the bread and the air in the container was below condensation at the temperature you packed it in, but when cooled down by proximity to your cold pack, it condensed.

So you can see how you got soggy bread, right?

A two-chamber lunch cooler would help, because you can separate the extreme-temperature stuff (be it cooled meat, or warm stuff) from the room-temperature stuff.


Роберт wrote:
gametaku wrote:Edit: seriously though, you could keep a bag of bread separate from the fixings.


Nath wrote:Since you are separating the bread from the filling, I'm surprised at the sogginess. I wonder if the ice pack has something to do with it (condensation?). The meat, cheese and mayo could probably use the cooling, but maybe the bread should be separated from the ice pack by some insulation -- say, crumpled up paper.



I've figured out the cold pack is causing condensation to form, and I need to better isolate the bread from the cold items. Since I'm gonna have to order something off amazon, is it worth looking at bento boxes? Sandwiches will probably be my main thing I take but it would be useful to be able to make something else when I do have the time. (and I can see about making stuff the night before)
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Re: Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby roband » Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:42 pm UTC

Cheese and crackers. Sorted.
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Re: Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby Enuja » Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:09 pm UTC

Toss the ice pack. If you're eating your lunch within 6 hours of packing it, the lunch meat isn't going to go bad. Just make your room temperature sandwich, and keep it at room temperature. Don't put mayo or mustard or butter on the bread, and pack the meat separately if you want to, but the ice pack is at the root of your problem.
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Re: Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby jimsfriend » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:44 pm UTC

I agree with Enuja to just not use the ice pack. I ate a sack lunch all through grade school with nothing to keep the sandwich cool, and never had a problem. Even mayonnaise and tuna were fine.

If you want to keep the ice pack, based on Yakk's explanation about condensation maybe you could refrigerate (or freeze) the bread in the bread container during the night with the lid off (but also refrigerated). Then the ice pack shouldn't make the air in your bread container colder because it's already pretty darn cold.
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Re: Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby AvatarIII » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:05 pm UTC

I make my sandwiches with frozen bread, which is not absorbent, until it defrosts, I put them in a not-air-tight bag, to hold them together, then that bag goes in a tupperware box to prevent them getting crushed, never soggy.
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Re: Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby Eheu » Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:35 pm UTC

I'd say to ditch the ice pack and just make the sandwiches at home, then wrap them in foil / plastic wrap / whatever.

People have already mentioned the issue of the temperature drop causing condensation in the box, and the cooling really isn't necessary for the lengths of time in question. When I know I'm not going to have much of a chance to go and buy lunch at work, I'll make a sandwich at home, wrap it up in foil, put it in my bag, and it's fine by lunchtime even if it's tuna or similar. Doing that I do have to be careful to put them somewhere where they won't get crushed, but it's not hard just to use an empty pocket in the bag.
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Re: Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby Yakk » Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:44 pm UTC

jimsfriend wrote:If you want to keep the ice pack, based on Yakk's explanation about condensation maybe you could refrigerate (or freeze) the bread in the bread container during the night with the lid off (but also refrigerated). Then the ice pack shouldn't make the air in your bread container colder because it's already pretty darn cold.

Bread in fridges goes stale fast. (I suspect this is because Fridges are massively dry -- if Fridges where not dry, they would have condensation problems, so something is drying out the air (I'd guess the air conditioning technology that is used to keep them cold also dehumidifies?).
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Re: Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby Argency » Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:35 pm UTC

Most staleness doesn't have anything to do with how dry the bread is. Staleness happens when the starches in the bread crystallise. This is why heating the bread in a microwave often seems to return it to freshness - the starches melt into a softness again. Cooling the bread, on the other hand, will always make the starches crystallise faster. If the sandwich has a few hours to warm before it's eaten this effect should be mitigated. Then again, it doesn't really bother me too much - unless the bread has been sitting in the fridge for weeks it'll still be pretty ok.
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Re: Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby gametaku » Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:08 am UTC

Enuja wrote:Toss the ice pack. If you're eating your lunch within 6 hours of packing it, the lunch meat isn't going to go bad. Just make your room temperature sandwich, and keep it at room temperature. Don't put mayo or mustard or butter on the bread, and pack the meat separately if you want to, but the ice pack is at the root of your problem.


jimsfriend wrote:I agree with Enuja to just not use the ice pack. I ate a sack lunch all through grade school with nothing to keep the sandwich cool, and never had a problem. Even mayonnaise and tuna were fine.

Eheu wrote:I'd say to ditch the ice pack and just make the sandwiches at home, then wrap them in foil / plastic wrap / whatever.


I actually did try bringing sandwiches without the ice pack for the first week of school but stopped that once I had lunch meat that didn't taste quite right. That and a couple slices of lunch meat and some cheese without any mayonnaise isn't all that good.



Well I got myself a new lunch box, which should allow me to better separate the ice pack and cold stuff from the bread or anything else I pack.
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Re: Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Tue Feb 21, 2012 3:15 am UTC

Do you have someplace outside the lunch pack to store the bread, like a locker or a backpack (granted it doesn't get smushed)? You could try keeping the bread elsewhere, and still pack the lunch meats, condiments, and cold drink in the lunch pack, then when you're ready to eat, just grab the loaf of bread, and make your sammich right there.
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Re: Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby lucrezaborgia » Tue Feb 21, 2012 7:45 pm UTC

gametaku wrote:I actually did try bringing sandwiches without the ice pack for the first week of school but stopped that once I had lunch meat that didn't taste quite right.


The meat was probably already on it's way out. It's doubtful that a few hours of room temp was what made it go bad.
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Re: Tired of throwing away my lunch.

Postby Enuja » Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:07 pm UTC

And mayonnaise is widely availably in shelf-stable packets.

But if your new lunch box is working, you don't have to go the room temperature route.
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