5 Sandwich hacks to reinvent your workday lunch

May 12, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. ET

By now, your taste buds probably hate you for having turkey on wheat every day of the week. But there is hope for you yet — you can jazz up a lackluster workweek by packing a little something special in your lunch.

Sandwiches are great. I know we can all agree on that. Why else would there be a Subway on every corner and a sandwich in every sack lunch in the office refrigerator? Sandwiches are easy, filling, nutritious and sometimes delicious. But you can have too much of a good thing.

There's no reason to pack the same sandwich in your work lunch five days a week. Here's how to brown-bag it to save on cash and calories from eating out while still keeping it interesting:

Meatless Monday

egg salad sandwich

Meatless Monday is exactly what you need to start the workweek right after a weekend of eating, eating and more eating. Rachel Vdolek, cookbook coach and author, says that packing a delicious office lunch is still easy if you are going vegan for a day (or longer) or have food allergies. Vdolek offers a few simple substitutions to pack a meatless lunch in moments. "[Use] flavored mustard as a spread or mashed avocado instead of mayo. Hummus is [also] a great spread for a sandwich."

If you're ready to put in a little more prep work, try author of LeBootcamp Diet's Valerie Orsoni's eggless salad recipe.

Eggless salad recipe

Serves 3


  • 1/2 cup pure water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups raw macadamia nuts or cashew nuts
  • 1/3 cup green onions or scallions
  • 1/3 cup celery stalk
  • 1/3 cup red pepper, diced


  1. In a high-speed blender, combine the water, lemon juice, turmeric, garlic, salt and nuts, and blend until smooth.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the contents from the blender with the scallions, celery and pepper. Mix well, and serve.

Taco Tuesday

fish taco lettuce wraps

If I've learned anything from watching The LEGO Movie a hundred times with my kids, it's that Taco Tuesday is worth waiting for all week long. Kevin Geary of Rebooted Body says that one of the easiest, not to mention healthiest, lunchtime subs you can make is by turning a regular sandwich into a wrap. Geary recommends using non-GMO corn tortillas, which he considers "much better than wheat tortillas and still portable."

Dr. Mike Fenster, America's Culinary Interventionalist and author of The Fallacy of The Calorie, adds, "People often go with a wrap to cut down or eliminate modern bread wheat. A great idea, except when the flour tortilla is made with flour made from modern bread wheat. Next time you're wrapping things up, try a steamed Swiss chard leaf, greens or even the standby lettuce leaf. Going green was never so easy or delicious!"

Hump day classic

Club sandwich

Image: Pixabay

Sometimes it's just so soothing to have an old favorite waiting for you in your lunch bag on Wednesday, what is arguably the longest day of the week. If you're a roast beef fan, David Venable, QVC's resident foodie and host of QVC's In the Kitchen with David, will do you one better. Venable shares his "exciting" roast beef club recipe with SheKnows to make enough for two sandwiches — one for you and one for your cubicle mate, if you're feeling generous. (For vegetarians, this meatless club sandwich looks pretty good too.)

Roast beef club sandwich recipe

Serves 2-4


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
  • 6 slices whole-wheat bread, toasted
  • 4 lettuce leaves (romaine or green leaf)
  • 8 thin slices tomato
  • 16 thin-sliced deli roast beef (approximately 1/2 a pound)
  • 4 slices horseradish-cheddar cheese
  • 12 slices bacon, cooked
  • Sandwich toothpicks


  1. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and mustard. Spread about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the mixture over 1 side of each slice of bread.
  2. Place 1 lettuce leaf, 2 tomato slices, 4 slices of roast beef, 1 cheddar slice and 3 slices of bacon on top of 2 slices of the prepared bread.
  3. Place 2 more prepared slices of bread mayonnaise side down on top of each sandwich.
  4. Top both sandwiches with another 1 lettuce leaf, 2 tomato slices, 4 slices of roast beef, 1 slice of cheddar and 3 slices of bacon.
  5. Top each sandwich again with the remaining bread slices, mayonnaise side down.
  6. Pierce the sandwiches with toothpicks along each side of the bread, creating a cross shape. Slice the sandwich diagonally from corner to corner, creating 4 triangles.

Toasted Thursday


Believe it or not, you can make a delicious toasted sandwich the night before (or use your office toaster) to enjoy as a workday lunch. According to Chef Daryl Shular, CMC, Le Cordon Bleu chef instructor, toasting or grilling can revive any basic sandwich, even a good ole PB&J. "A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a childhood favorite for many — now try it with a New Age twist. Toast your choice of bread on a warm griddle with a touch of butter… Yes, butter! Make sure the pan is hot and the butter has fully melted.

"Stack 2 slices of bread together, and place in a hot pan or griddle with the melted butter. By stacking the bread, this would keep the center moist, which prevents dry-out and can take away from the finished product. Once 1 side of the bread is browned, add some more butter, then flip it, and brown the other side. Now take this classic to another level by combining creamy peanut butter with a few small pieces of your favorite nut, like toasted pistachios, cinnamon-spiced walnuts and even caramel salted pecans."

Casual Friday

Mandarin bread

Image: Tastefully Simple

Finally, finally, it's Friday — the day you get to wear jeans to work and let it all hang out. One interesting and appetizing way to get your kicks is by packing something unexpected in your lunch. Swapping wheat or white bread (aka the most boring part of the sandwich) for flavored bread, like beer bread or mandarin orange bread, might make the weekend come that much quicker. Try sweet mandarin bread in a savory sandwich combo with chicken salad or grilled chicken, spicy mustard and tomato.

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