It should be noted that there is no better time to eat a grilled cheese sandwich than immediately when it comes straight off the stove, with the gooiest melted cheese and crackly, buttery bread. But that does not mean you can't make it in advance and pack it for lunch. You certainly can — it's just a matter of knowing the best way to wrap it up so it's still warm when you pull it out at lunchtime. Here's how to do it.
Start with a Thermos and Boiling Water
Yes, that's right, a thermos. That trusty thermos you have stashed away in the back of a cabinet somewhere is good for a lot more than toting hot soup, chili, or oats to work. It is also the best way to pack a grilled cheese sandwich so it's still warm hours after you pull it off the stove. The promise of a thermos is holding in heat, and keeping food warm, and that's just what happens here.
What to Expect from Make-Ahead Grilled Cheese
Until I tried this several times myself, I was hugely skeptical that grilled cheese could remain warm (and taste legitimately good) hours after it was cooked. So, what does it taste like?
I want you to keep your expectations in check, because the result, while still totally delicious and comforting, is not the same as a grilled cheese fresh off the griddle. Cut in slices and packed in a thermos, the sandwich will stay warm for hours, with a cheesy center that's extremely soft, although not quite as oozy as when it's first cooked. The bread does lose its initial crispiness, but is firm and not soggy, with the same buttery, toasted flavor you'd expect. So if you must have a grilled cheese sandwich with your tomato soup (and own two thermoses!) this will get you there.
Here's How to Do It
Fill your thermos with boiling water and set it aside while you prepare your grilled cheese sandwich. Let the sandwich cool on a cutting board for a few minutes, until it's warm but no longer hot. Empty the water from the thermos and dry thoroughly with a paper towel. Do make sure the inside of the thermos is totally dry. The metal interior retains the heat from the boiling water, and is what keeps the sandwich warm.
Slice the grilled cheese into sticks, either in thirds or quarters, depending on the size and width of your thermos. Place the pieces of sandwich inside the thermos, and seal tightly until lunchtime.
Your turn! Have you ever packed a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch? Have you tried this method?