You can pack a good cold sandwich for lunch and keep it fresh with the assembly and packing tips below.
You’ll also learn how to avoid soggy sandwiches and keep them cold and at their best!
Sandwich Packing Tips
Whether it’s a classic PB&J sandwich, a sandwich with deli meats, or a tuna salad, you’ll want to make sure it’s packed properly in the lunch bag so you can enjoy it hours later.
Here are the top tips for packing cold sandwiches for later:
Keep “wet” ingredients away from bread
If your sandwich includes sliced tomatoes, tuna salad, or chicken salad, add a barrier like lettuce or a slice of cheese between the moist ingredient and the bread so the bread doesn’t get soggy.
Less is more
For peanut butter sandwiches, for example, spread the same amount of peanut butter on both slices of bread and distribute the jelly in the middle. This helps the texture of the bread be consistent and avoids the soggy jelly side.
Avoid zip bags
Zip bags, while convenient, don’t protect the sandwich from the other items in the lunch bag and can lead to squished sandwiches by lunch.
Avoid excess room in the container
Make the container fit the sandwich by selecting one that doesn’t leave a lot of room on the sides for the sandwich to move around and the ingredients to fall out. Kids are notorious for not being gentle with their sandwiches.
Pack spreads and liquids separate
If your sandwich is heavy on a dressing, like a salad sandwich, pack that in a separate small lidded container.
How to Assemble a Sandwich So It Stays Fresh
Did you know that the order you assemble the ingredients when you make a sandwich for later is almost as important as how it’s packed? Yes, you heard that right!
From the bottom up here is how to build a sandwich:
- Bread: your base of the sandwich.
- Spread: a thin layer of mayo, hummus, pesto or mustard helps the bread stay moist and adds flavor. Pick one, the other goes on the top slice.
- Barrier layer: whether it’s sliced cheese or a lettuce leaf, this layer protects the bread from a moisture-containing ingredient.
- Deli meat or filling: this is the heart of the sandwich (main ingredient) it can be deli meat, tuna salad, egg salad, chicken salad, etc.
- Wet ingredient: tomatoes, pickles, and the usual suspects that lead to soggy sandwiches go here.
- Barrier layer: another ingredient like lettuce or cheese not used below to protect the bread from the wet ingredient.
- Spread: an optional thin layer of an ingredient goes here. Ex: if you like mayo and mustard, use one here the other in the top layer.
- Bread: your top layer to close the sandwich.
How to Pack a Cold Sandwich
After making a sandwich and placing it inside an air-tight container, pack it inside an insulated lunch bag for optimal freshness until lunch. Sandwiches with perishable foods or whose quality can be impacted by changes in temperature should be packed along with an ice pack or a gel pack.
You can also freeze a juice box or water bottle for this purpose and place it inside the lunch bag. If the bag will be outside in hot temps, it’s recommended you place two cold sources inside the same bag.
Do You Need an Ice Pack for a Sandwich
You’ll need an ice pack to keep sandwiches fresh if the lunch bag is not insulated, if the environment’s temperature isn’t stable or cool, if the lunch will be outside for a long time, or if the change in temperature will impact the taste and texture of the ingredients like with egg salads, tuna salads, and chicken salad for example.
How to Keep a Sandwich from Getting Soggy
Sandwiches tend to get soggy from excess moisture-containing ingredients near the bread and improper storage. Ensuring that wet ingredients like tomatoes or pickles don’t touch the bread is important and using the right container to keep it fresh as well.
In this short video you’ll learn how to keep a sandwich from getting soggy:
How Long Can a Sandwich Stay Good in a Lunch Bag?
If you’re 30 years old or older, your parent probably didn’t think much about this, and “we turned out fine.” And while you’re probably correct, generally speaking, the USDA recommends that perishable foods be inside a paper bag for no longer than 2 hours. And that sandwiches and lunches inside an insulated bag will stay good until lunchtime.
How long a sandwich stays fresh depends on the type of sandwich, if it’s packed inside a paper bag or in an insulated bag, and the environment the lunch bag will sit in until lunchtime: outside, in a classroom, or refrigerated.
Here is a chart to use as a guide for how long foods can stay good:
|up to 4h
|up to 4h
Now that you know the facts, choose one of these sandwich ideas for kids and get packing!