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Sandwich Fatigue

In my quest to find a cheap but nourishing lunch option to take to work, I’ve gone through several phases – the salad phase, the frozen burrito period, the age of re-heated soups – but I’ve always eventually come back around to sandwiches.

Now, before I get into the meat (ha?) of the entry, let me boast:  my sandwiches are epic.  Where once I was content to eat a slice of cheese and a slice of meat with some mayo’d (and possibly mustarded) bread, I now scoff at any sandwich with fewer than six ingredients.  On a normal day, my sandwich consists of bread, mayonnaise, mustard, spinach, red pepper, onion, mushrooms, two slices of cheese, and turkey.  At work, we have a George Foreman grill, which I use as my own personal panini press.

It’s a tall, messy, and involved sandwich…but therein lies the problem:  in coming to believe that more = better in terms of sandwich ingredients, I have set myself up so that I must always have every ingredient, and thus I have grown tired of eating the same delicious sandwich every day.  Sometimes, yes, I’ll switch it up –  I’ll use goat cheese instead of condiments, or I’ll spend half an hour before work painstakingly caramelizing the onions – but then we’re getting into a territory of diminishing returns where cost and effort stack up against improvement in flavor.

What I need in order to keep myself from going the Thai carry-out route (which, as I’ve mentioned before, is a daily temptation greater than any vice I’ve ever known) is a drastic re-imagining of the packed lunch.  I need to work risotto-crafting and vegetable stir-frying into my nightly routine, so I might have leftovers copious enough to last days.  (This is another problem…split between two people, our dinner leftovers never stretch past two snack-sized portions for lunch the next day–snack-sized portions which I usually end up supplementing with a sandwich.)

The universe of frugal people is filled with meal-planners and sacked-lunch experts…what do these people typically do for their sandwich fatigue?  Mine is becoming unbearable.  (I’m writing from my lunch break at work, where my sandwich has been devoured and I’m still left yearning for some Pad Kee Mao.  Somebody, please, send help.)

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