Day in and day out, we brave subways, traffic jams, and crowded sidewalks to make our way to work, and it seems that as soon as the last drop of morning coffee is gone, lunch is on the brain. Whether it’s something we’ve called in for delivery, picked up from the place we seem to be instinctually rushing off to, made special for yourself before work, or are reheating from last night’s dinner, lunch at work doesn’t always stack up to be the midday culinary reprieve we desperately need.
But you don’t have to get stuck in a rut. We’ve assembled a list of globally-inspired, shelf-stable condiments that will cheer up any lunch situation you find yourself enduring, whether it’s rice, salad, or even just sliced fruit. Keep these favorites stashed in your desk drawer and you’ll find yourself looking forward to concocting a new way to upgrade lunch.
Furikake Japanese seasoning mix
A savory blend of toasted nori, sesame seeds, and smoke-dried skipjack tuna, furikake is a Japanese seasoning mix traditionally used to flavor rice and fish dishes. Beyond rice, furikake will add a welcome umami to simple buttered pasta, soups in need of spice, and even your afternoon bag of vending machine popcorn. Urashima
Mike’s Hot Honey
Hailing from Brooklyn in 2011, Mike’s Hot Honey has become a staple in new-age pizzerias and will quickly become an important part of your daily lunch ritual. The honey is infused with chiles and vinegar, which makes it a deliciously balanced sweet, spicy, sticky condiment. In addition to pizza, it stands out wonderfully in salad dressings, on every type of hot or cold sandwich and, of course, with fried foods. Mike’s Hot Honey
L’Estornell Olive Oil
A good quality olive oil is a staple in every kitchen, but it should also play a prominent role in your at-work condiment arsenal. While the SAVEUR test kitchen opts for a milder variety to keep near the stove for cooking, we keep a more poignant, peppery version tucked away at our desks. It’s the perfect option for topping off a tupperware full of roasted vegetables or reheated pasta and it adds a great zest to just about any deli sandwich you find yourself biting into for lunch. L’Estornell
Sarsons malt vinegar
A few shakes of malt vinegar, fish & chips’ classic tangy partner, will both tone down the fried food you’ve splurged on and liven up the healthy but slightly wilted salad you lugged from home. Made by over-fermenting malted beer, this vinegar is perfectly shelf-stable without refrigeration, making it a fantastic desk condiment choice. Sarson’s
Tajín Clásico Seasoning
Tajin Clasico is an all-natural mix of roasted chiles, dehydrated lime juice, and salt that is hugely popular in Mexico. Known there as ‘salsa en polvo,’ or powdered salsa, it adds a surprisingly delightful balance of tang, salt, and spice to crisp salads, simple sandwiches, soups, and even fresh cut fruit. Tajin