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I'm not much of a cook but neither am I a complete stranger to the kitchen. I like to prepare sandwiches to take with me to work in a box. Since I do it often, I like to make them more "interesting" than just plain bread-meat-cheese. So far however I've only come up with the idea of putting in various off-the-shelf sauces/dressings/whathaveyou that I can buy in the supermarket.

Whenever I buy and eat pre-made sandwiches, they taste a lot better than what I make myself. I've tried to figure out why this is and I think it's because they contain vegetables. I like vegetables in a sandwich - cucumbers, lettuce, tomato, avocado, bell peppers, etc.

The problem with adding them myself is that it just takes too much time to do. I usually make the sandwiches in a hurry in the morning, so I have about 5-10 minutes to do it. Washing-peeling-slicing-storing - that just takes too much time. Sometimes I add pickles, but most of the time I consider even that too big of a hassle.

So I was thinking - if I could pre-slice the vegetables and store them for several days (ideally - up to 5 days), that would do it. I'd just have to grab them from a box and throw them on the sandwich. I'm afraid however that sliced vegetables won't keep so long, even in the fridge. I haven't tried it though.

Are there any tricks out there that could help me? Some way to make sure they last longer, or perhaps are much quicker to prepare in the mornings? We can skip tomatoes, I think a sandwich with tomatoes in it would be a mess after several hours in a box anyway.

Or perhaps other ideas to quickly give a sandwich an interesting taste? (Subjective, I know, but I'm not picky and will try different things)

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There’s a third option between storing the vegetables for a week and cutting them in the morning:

Cut just the amount you need for one morning the evening before. Storing overnight is not a safety issue (assuming basic principles like storing in the fridge are followed), and you still can “slap them on” as requested.

Another thought:
You describe cutting in the morning as too time-consuming, but my favorite tool in this context is a small cheapo vegetable slicer (like this one). I hold it right over the sandwich, shave a few slices of cucumber or similar right on it and am done. Thirty seconds, tops, including a quick rinse.

If you are interested in other toppings, I suggest you take a second look at the leftovers from yesterday’s dinner: Leafy greens like lettuce (sans dressing!) keep well for a few days and some roasted vegetables are also interesting: Either they are already spiced or a dash of lemon or mild vinegar plus an overnight stint in the fridge gives you a perfect sandwich vegetable - not unlike antipasti. Slice them right when you are packing them up, of course, for a grab-and-go sandwich preparation.

  • Well, I have a slicer like that already (not the cheapest either), however I don't think it's much easier than just using a knife. And extra washing up too. As for cutting the previous evening (or even making the whole sandwich?)... well... that assumes a fair deal of discipline which I may or may not have. ^^) But it's solid advice, no doubt about that. – Vilx- Mar 3 at 21:03
  • @Vilx- 5-10 minutes is a very long time to make a sandwich, unless you're cooking something. Even with the extra washing, you should have the time, if you know what you're putting on it. If you don't go with a mandolin like the one mentioned, a veggie peeler might be able to satisfy the need for quick veggie slices, they'll just be thin. :) – Jorgomli Mar 4 at 19:21
  • Well, true, 5-10min is pretty long for a single sandwich. I guess I didn't phrase that very well. The truth is I'm making at least 2 sandwiches for myself, one for my daughter, and another for my wife. And everyone wants different things in theirs, so I need to make at least two trips to the fridge every way just to get all the stuff. Unwrap and rewrap things. Slice a dozen cheese slices. Etc. It kinda adds up. About 10 minutes is usually what it takes and I usually do it in the last moment because we all want to sleep a bit more... – Vilx- Mar 4 at 20:56
  • So, yes, you're right - simply getting up 5 minutes earlier would probably be a much more simple solution. But also... much harder. For reasons entirely unrelated to the kitchen. 😳 – Vilx- Mar 4 at 20:59
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    But you do work assembly line style, right? Laying out everything you need in a handy order so that you can easily grab whatever you need for a specific sandwich without further wrapping/unwrapping of items or going back and forth a few extra times? That’s the real game changer for me (yes, I have kids at school and we adults sometimes pack lunch). – Stephie Mar 4 at 21:09
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It depends on your vegetable, but the best way to store most prepped vegetables is to make sure they stay moist. The best way to do this is to cover them with a damp cloth. Another thing you can do is to add lemon juice. The acid acts as a natural preservative and a flavor enhancer.

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    Wouldn't moisture also encourage mold? Lemon juice - interesting, I'll have to try that. – Vilx- Mar 3 at 20:34
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    in the refrigerator with an acid on it? You will get mold eventually no matter what but you should be safe. – AGirlHasNoName Mar 3 at 20:35
  • If your crisper drawer is clean and you keep the slices in a container just overnight, not really. It Depends™, but I’ve had to toss out “forgotten” veggies from my fridge now and then and they were usually withered, sometimes slightly rotting, very rarely moldy. I also use those perforated bags meant to keep vegetables fresh, as far as I know they work by keeping some amount of moisture and CO2 around the vegetable, and they work wonders at least for intact vegetables. (I once used a capsicum that’s been in that bag for two months or so and it was still crisp.) – millimoose Mar 5 at 14:16
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If your vegetables are wilting (especially about lettuce) then you should take a box with a lid (if it seals well, that's better, but normal does it too), put some water on the bottom, and put the vegetables raised above the water - either large pieces directly on something trivet-like, or smaller cut pieces in a second, smaller box sitting again on a trivet (or a makeshift trivet).

If your vegetables are going slimy or moldy, there is nothing you can do. The lifetime of a cut vegetable is 3-5 days in the fridge, just like any other perishable food, and it can be shorter in some unlucky cases (e.g. if your vegetables were older or already had some invisible stage of mold when put in the fridge). Short of preserving them (so e.g. using pickles instead of cucumbers on the sandwich), you can't really do anything.

The last resort would be to freeze them, but the texture will change so much that most people would not eat a sandwich with thawed vegetables, so it is very unlikely that this is a viable option.

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