How to make a Christmas Day packed lunch

Not everyone gets to spend Christmas Day on the sofa. Pack a lunchbox full of traditional Christmas food that’s been adapted for those who’ll be spending their day hard at work.

Picture the scene: a roaring fire, presents being passed around the tree, raising toasts at the big family meal and enjoying a snooze on the sofa. A dream Christmas for some, but for others their Christmas Day will be compromised somewhat by having to work.

From transport and hospitality workers to the emergency services, there are many who can't stop grafting because it's the 25th December. Salute their services with a portable piece of traditional Christmas that they can enjoy at their workplace…

Something for everyone

Sausage minestroneOur ideas are based on there being nowhere to heat up your packed lunch, but if you do have access to a microwave, invest in a good piece of Tupperware and take along a rustic wintry soup. Our sausage minestrone will keep you going through the afternoon, or dip into the cheeseboard early and make a classic broccoli and stilton blend.

Stews also work well reheated and often taste better the next day. Go vegetarian or add chicken, beef or sausage to your casserole, take extra care to ensure the meat is steaming hot throughout.

The ultimate Christmas sandwich

SourdoughThe ceremony of eating a full roast dinner is the focal point of Christmas Day for many, so a sandwich is going to struggle to compete. Hopefully you’ll be returning home to a plated up portion of dinner, so keep lunch light and festive in a seasonal sarnie with some serious layering action.

We love a sandwich at BBC Good Food, and relish the chance to practice our assembly skills. Firstly, choose your bread wisely. As you want to pack your sandwich full of wintry layers, a flimsy slice of white isn’t going to cut it. Try sturdy sourdough or a crusty ciabatta and toast the inside to create a seal to prevent sogginess.

Turkey burgersGo the whole hog and assemble a full Christmas dinner. If the joint hasn't been roasted, buy a small amount of turkey mince and make thin burgers the night before. This recipe contains very festive carrots and apricots, but ramp up the seasoning with some sage or parsley. If you prefer slices of meat, pick up some ready-roasted chicken breast as buying a whole turkey breast to roast might be excessive.

Winter slawMake up a winter slaw to add crunch. Use a small amount of the vegetables being used for the Christmas dinner. Even shredded, raw sprouts would work – they have a lighter texture than sliced cabbage. If stuffing balls are waiting in the fridge for the big day, you could nab one, flatten it and roast it, or make up a portion of shop-bought stuffing if you want an easier life.

Cranberry relishWhen it comes to garnishes, there are plenty of chutney choices. However consider the fact that some of them might leach water and ruin the bread. Try spreading cranberry jelly or relish between a meat and vegetable layer. Pick up some vegetable crisps to serve on the side.


Other great Christmas sandwich combos...

Cranberry and chestnut falafelsDig into the smoked salmon and team it with rye bread, capers, lemon zest and cream cheese.

We love these Christmassy chestnut & cranberry falafels. Serve in pitta bread with some feta cheese, houmous (homemade if you have time), grated red cabbage and fresh coriander.

Cold cuts

Christmas hamPut your ham in to roast a day early and make it your Christmas Eve meal. We have plenty of recipes and tips to help you with this. The next day, assemble a Christmas Ploughman's platter in your lunchbox: Thick slices of ham, a winter slaw (the maple candied nuts are optional), slices of strong cheddar cheese, crusty bread and some pickled beetroot sealed in a food bag.




Chicken and ham pieGet cooking in the lead up to Christmas Day and make yourself a lunchbox pie. Shortcrust or filo pastry work best here, as they keep their shape better than puff pastry, and are less likely to go soggy.

Our four & twenty chicken & ham pie is a savoury sensation, but is one for those with time on their hands. Our butter pie is another crowd-pleaser, or try a pork pie filled with pistachio and festive cranberry.

If you don’t fancy rustling up a behemoth of a bake, try making individual pies, or make use of versatile sheets of filo pastry and make a batch of samosas. Swap the Indian spices of these tikka samosas and flavour the mince with festive cinnamon, rosemary and cranberries. 

Go slow on Christmas Eve

Pomegranate lambCreate a Christmas Eve supper to remember and have enough left over for your pack-up the next day by slow-cooking a large joint to be shared with friends and family. Lamb shoulder with seasonal pomegranate will be just as tender and soft the next day. Serve with that trusty lunchbox favourite couscous, jazzed up with apricots and crispy onions.

Pulled pork will also work served chilled in a tortilla wrap the next day. Red cabbage and pickles make delicious crunchy accompaniments.

Don't forget dessert 

Earn brownie points with your colleagues and take a batch of mince pies. This recipe also contains chocolate chips, so should keep everyone happy. Failing that you could always share your selection box. Christmas is the season of giving after all.

Are you working on Christmas Day?  When it comes to your packed lunch is it business as usual, or do you try and inject some festive sparkle? Share your ideas with us below…

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