Miriam wrote to me with a really tough question!
Do you have any suggestions for easy to share, economical meatless dishes? My hubby just started a new job at a huge County Emergency Room, and he often works from 3 PM - 3 AM, with virtually no time to eat. Once a month, I'd like to provide a meatless (since it would be non-refrigerated), yummy, healthy dish with wide appeal to place in the staff breakroom so that my husband and his coworkers have something besides vending machines to eat from. Any suggestions?
Honestly, I am having difficulty coming up with any sort of substantial dish that wouldn't require refrigeration after 2 hours. Meats aside, dairy, eggs, and cooked vegetables (basically low-acid foods, unlike tomatoes or fruits) should be left at room temperature for a maximum of 2 hours.
So unless the food is definitely going to be consumed within two hours, I wouldn't recommend any "main dish" sort of meals that contain vegetables, rice, beans, cheese (like cottage cheese; some hard cheeses can be at room temperature longer, I believe), milk, or eggs...
But I don't think you want to make everyone peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. So here are some other suggestions... they may not all be healthy, or particularly "complete" as a meal, but surely they'd be more enjoyable than food from a vending machine! :)
Breads -- There are a variety of options here, from sweeter quick breads like pumpkin spice bread or pineapple banana bread, to "regular" homemade wheat bread, which is fabulous served fresh with butter.
Homemade bagels are hard to beat... we love them plain or with butter, and there are so many different flavors you could make! Bagels are easy to eat, and you could even make smaller ones, so people didn't have to try a huge one to start with.
Quick and easy breadsticks are also delicious cold ("leftover"), as is regular garlic bread/garlic toast (at least, we think so!). There are also many, many kinds of muffins, which are easy to eat and yummy! :)
Snacks -- Here are a couple snacks that might be suitable for your situation. Energy bars are a handy snack that contain a bit of fiber and really do hold off hunger. Homemade trail mix is also a healthy snack (depending on what you put into it!) that has some protein.
Does anyone else have any ideas, food suggestions, or general tips for Miriam? :)
As a side note, my husband also works at a job where he has very little time to eat. I pack him a lunch (using frozen cold packs) of a couple sandwiches, some fruit, baked goodies, etc... (His lunch time usually lasts 15 minutes or less.)