Good Food Blog
Homemade sandwich heavenPosted at 2:27PM, 31 July 2008 by Karyn Miller - Journalist
Do you remember when those who took homemade sandwiches into work drew pitying looks from colleagues? The days before Pret a Manger when soggy bread, watery ham and sweaty cheese were the order of the day? Well, it seems that we are now rethinking our lunchtime habits.
This week Sainsburys reported that sales of plastic sandwich boxes have rocketed by more than a third compared to a year ago. Sales of its sandwich bags have risen by a quarter during the same period. The supermarket giant has concluded that the credit crunch in full swing, people are economising by making their own lunches out of leftovers. Those savings can be substantial: around £480 per year, according to one newspaper article.
At the same time the sandwich industry - worth £5 billion a year in Britain - is coming under increased scrutiny. Channel 4's recent Dispatches: Sandwiches Unwrapped documentary went behind the scenes at one London factory. Unhygienic practices captured on film included workers scooping up fillings from the floor.
The programme also raised concerns about the nutritional quality of pre-packed sandwiches. A meatball sub from the Subway chain contains as much salt as 18 packets of ready-salted crisps. A chicken and pancetta sandwich from Marks & Spencer has more fat than a Big Mac and fries. Perhaps it is little wonder that more of us are choosing to make our own.
At lunchtime you would find in us in the hip sandwich shop next door. Now the shop is empty and our fridge is full, with homemade sandwiches jostling for space.
At my own office the communal fridge used to be empty, save for a bottle of milk and a mouldy yoghurt. At lunchtime you would find in us in the hip sandwich shop next door. Now the shop is empty and our fridge is full, with homemade sandwiches jostling for space. I've noticed that these bear little resemblance to the squashed, unappetising triangles of yore. Instead there are ciabattas , rye rolls and more, all prettily wrapped and filled with delicious cheeses, meats and chutneys.
Here are my five top tips for getting the most out of your office lunch:
- Try a variety of fillings. If you have your favourite filling every day, you will swiftly tire of it.
- Stale, day-old crusts are another no-no. If you are using shop-bought bread, slice it and chuck it in the freezer overnight. When you make your sandwich the next morning, the bread will defrost in minutes and will still taste fresh.
- If you don't want your sandwich to go soggy, be sure to butter your bread to the edges. Alternatively you can pack 'wet' ingredients such as beetroot, lettuce and tomatoes separately, then add them to the sandwich just before you tuck in.
- Try thinly-sliced fennel in place of lettuce. It stays crunchy.
- Take your sandwich out of the office fridge half an hour before lunchtime. Most ingredients taste better at room temperature.
What are your sandwich-making secrets?