Everyone's packed a sandwich before, so is there really a best way to do it? Depending on the sandwich, there probably is if you want to keep it from getting soggy or falling apart as it travels. While it's certainly not rocket science, here are a couple of guiding principles that will avert possible sandwich disasters.
Choose Your Sandwich Wisely
Before we even get to packing sandwiches, we've got to talk about the sandwich choice itself. First, think about timing: When will you eat the sandwich, and how long will it be sitting around? Then think about temperature: Will it be traveling in sweltering heat or be tossed around in a backpack, or will there be ice packs or even refrigeration?
All these things should factor into what kind of sandwich you make. If you know that you can't keep the sandwich cold and it'll be a hot day, stay away from egg salad, mayonnaise, or fresh cheeses like mozzarella packed in water since they're highly perishable. If the sandwich will be consumed soon, the sky's the limit.
Now that you've picked the right kind of sandwich to pack, here are a few tips on the best way to construct and layer it:
Bread: If you hate sogginess, choose rolls or crusty bread. For sliced sandwich bread, consider toasting it to keep moisture out.
Condiments: To keep the bread from getting soggy, spread condiments into the middle of the sandwich, between the slices of meat or cheese.
Produce: Make sure your lettuce is nice and dry. Place tomatoes or other juicy produce in the center of the sandwich.
Chicken, Egg, or Tuna Salads: Consider packing chicken, egg, or tuna salads in separate containers from the bread and constructing your sandwich at the last minute. If you want to make the sandwiches ahead of time, though, add a layer of lettuce as a barrier between the bread and salad.
Wrapping It Right
If you're dealing with a warm or pressed sandwich like a panini, pack it in foil to keep it warm. A foil-wrapped sandwich can also be thrown into an oven as-is to warm up later.
Parchment paper is great when you want to wrap and keep a sandwich tightly together - there's a reason why this is the preferred method of wrapping at the deli counter! Plus, a sandwich wrapped in paper will stay together better as it's being cut into pieces.
For most sandwiches, though, a resealable plastic bag will work just fine, especially if the sandwich is fragrant and you don't want it smelling up your bag or annoying your neighbors. You might even want to consider placing a foil or paper-wrapped sandwich in a plastic bag to have some insurance against possible leakage or moisture that might come from contact with ice or other damp objects.
For a more environmentally-friendly option, you can wrap a sandwich in a cloth napkin and secure it with string or ribbon - this also can double as a napkin while you're eating!
If you're packing for a crowd, remember to label so that each sandwich gets to the right person, especially if you have picky eaters or those with dietary restrictions in the bunch.
Unless you've got a sturdy sub on a crusty roll, most sandwiches are delicate creatures that need to be treated gently. Make sure they don't get crushed by packing them on top of heavier items, or better yet, place them in a hard-sided container so that they're completely protected.
Now that you know these basic principles, you can choose and pack your sandwiches wisely, confident that they'll be in prime shape when it comes time to chow down.
Bonus Tip! When I'm packing and traveling with a variety of sandwiches, say, roast beef and a BLT, I like to mix it up and pack a section of each in individual sandwich bags. That way, when someone gets hungry, they just grab one bag and have both at the ready!
What tips do you have for packing sandwiches?
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