Lunch ideas that aren't leftovers


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Ever since my pregnancy, I have had a major gag reflex to microwaved leftovers. If I reheat food in the oven or stovetop, I can eat it. But microwaved meat tastes super funky to me and if I try to eat too much of it, I will actually vomit. Maybe it's just a mental thing. Either way...

This is posing a small problem for lunches, since I don't have a range at work. My "cold" lunch ideas have always been limited to salad, which I get bored with after a few days, and sandwiches, which are out. Before Whole30, I ate lunch at nearby restaurants several times a week for this very reason.

I've been bringing leftovers, but I'm having a hard time choking enough food down to keep me satisfied until I get home. Any ideas for lunches that don't need to be heated (other than salad...)?

side note: Anyone else out there get that "ick" feeling from microwaved food? Or am I a total weirdo? :P

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I wouldn't put you quite in weirdo category. I'm not a fan of microwaved food either, though I don't go all the way to gag reflex, it's just not appealing to me. I might be able to handle a certain amount of reheating, but only to be polite at my in-laws house. I think this one might fall into the realm of the Luxury Problem.

Regarding your real question, though- I'm in the same boat at work, so I've been cultivating an appreciation for foods that can be served cold or at room temperature. Like canned fishes, mostly salmon and sardines, that I was never fond of before my first Whole30. I'll serve it on some (cold) mashed sweet potato or squash, or sauteed veggies. But those would count as leftovers to you, since they're pre-cooked.

Is it leftovers themselves, or just the microwaving of them that turns you off? Because I would have different suggestions depending on the issue. For example, soup in a thermos would stay hot for hours and not need microwaving, but it's still leftovers.

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I actually love leftovers, but I sympathize with the lack of a microwave problem. I eat all my lunches cold because I work in a crowded graduate student office and I'm a little self-conscious about making the entire office smell my lunch for the next two hours if I use the microwave. But, if the idea of cold leftovers turns you off too, have you considered just getting more creative with your salads? Tuna mashed with avocado makes a good, quick, tuna salad. You can vary your protein to flank steak, shrimp, smoked salmon... try different dressings and different vegetable bases. Or you could do a sandwich "wrap" in a collard leaf and bring raw vegetables with zucchini hummus or baba ganoush?

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A few things that I do involve homemade mayo.

1. bagged cole slaw, can of tuna, chopped cucumber, chopped tomato, maybe some olives, apples or grapes all mixed with mayo

2. similar to above with smoked salmon. I really love to mix in some roasted tomato with this.

If hard boiled egg would work for you then I'd suggest 3 eggs cut up and mixed with guacamole.

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A few things that I do involve homemade mayo.

1. bagged cole slaw, can of tuna, chopped cucumber, chopped tomato, maybe some olives, apples or grapes all mixed with mayo

2. similar to above with smoked salmon. I really love to mix in some roasted tomato with this.

If hard boiled egg would work for you then I'd suggest 3 eggs cut up and mixed with guacamole.

Some of my favorite lunches and they are all awesome wrapped in a butter lettuce leaf. :)

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  • A waldorf-ish chicken salad with chicken, apples, walnuts, celery, chives, and mayo. Sometimes I use grapes or dried fruit instead of apples.
  • Shrimp salad or shrimp cocktail (for cocktail sauce you have to make your own ketchup and mix in lemon and horseradish).
  • Deviled eggs.
  • You can roll up sliced meat (or chicken/tuna/turkey salad) with vegetables in a collard leaf (cut out the main stem).
  • Roasted or grilled salmon is a leftover that can be eaten cold or at room temperature.
  • Steak tartare (now I am stretching! :) )
  • Smoked salmon and avocado on slices of cucumber or on a salad or in a collard leaf roll
  • Some people don't mind cold leftover sausage
  • Quiche (crustless) cold or at room temp

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The Thermos brand vacuum sealed food containers definitely keep food hot for hours, so that might be one option. Alternately, there's apparently a Crockpot brand lunch container that reheats your food slowly using what is essentially a very compact, low temperature Crockpot.

I do eat a lot of things that are ok cold. Many of the foods listed above are favorites of mine.

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