Packed lunches, the English way

We took some days off last May and visited a few outdoor places. The last episode of lock-down at the time hadn’t quite finished yet, and thus places weren’t fully “functional” either. So we decided to play it safe and take our food with us rather than go empty handed and attempt to buy something on-site, only to find the café closed.

And since we were holidaying in England, and it felt a bit like going on a school trip, I thought: “we should prepare packed lunches like the English would do for their kids!”

Devvers wasn’t super thrilled about this extravagant idea of mine, but still agreed to share with me tips and tricks for making sandwiches “the English way”.

This is very important because since I did not grow up in the UK, if left to my own devices, I would put olive oil and a slice or two of tomato on the sandwiches… the anathema!

So here’s the secret, for all of the Spanish people out there who want to pretend like they’re in England, or want to surprise their English partners with the thrilling sight of a Proper English Sandwich! 😆


  • Sandwich bread. Preferably soft white. Avoid any healthy ideas such as wholemeal, 50/50, sourdough, etc. Just plain soft white (although we kind of weren’t quite truthful to this here, but bear with us). Embrace the Chorleywood process!
  • Butter at room temperature (for spreading), or margarine or some sort of spreadable thing.
  • Mustard.
  • Some sort of pickle or jam-like thing.
  • Sliced ham.
  • Sliced cheese (preferably cheddar, but “someone” was not super keen, so we ended up with Jarlsberg).


Start by spreading butter on both pieces of bread.

Note: if you are more dedicated to the craft than we were, your butter will be at room temperature and will be easier to spread on the bread than ours. We just ended up cutting thin slices as you can see in the pictures… oh well.


For the cheese and pickle sandwich

Place a couple of cheese slices on the sandwich.

Place some pickle on the cheese and somewhat spread it.

Close the sandwich.

Butter, cheese and pickle sandwich
Butter, cheese and pickle sandwich

For the butter, ham and mustard sandwich

Place a slice or two of ham on the sandwich.

Place some mustard on the ham and spread it. As to exactly how much mustard, ask yourself: how much do you want to live life to the limit? how much do you value your taste buds? You decide!

“Close” the sandwich, putting the two parts together.

Butter, ham and mustard sandwich
Butter, ham and mustard sandwich

Completing the set

An English packed lunch is not complete without some extravagant confectionery.

Do include as well:

  1. A packet of crisps; the weirdest the flavour, the better: salt and vinegar or chilli prawns could do, but pickled juice of fermented ginger and spiced smoky paprika extract from fiery chorizo farms in Lancashire with a hint of caramelised salted honey infused with Kent hops would win by leaps and bounds. We’re a bit less exciting so we just got a 5-packet set from Kettle, and I ate all the plain crisps and Devvers had the salt and vinegar ones.
  2. Something sweet: traditionally, the stickier and sweeter the better, so that dentists are kept in business. Think: Snickers with caramel, Kit Kats with caramel, and other gooey things I have never tried, preferably in XL sizes. In the interest of keeping our well maintained teeth nice and intact, we opted for something old-fashioned called a Penguin, which does not have caramel, hence did not stick to our teeth and is more like a chocolate biscuit.
  3. A can or bottle of fizzy or sickly sweet drink: coke, energy drinks, ribena, concentrated orange juice, that kind of things. But we don’t drink those, so we replaced this with a thermos and our v60 coffee that I brewed in the morning. I felt so smug all day.

I reckon we “failed” on this part, but we need to enforce our limits!

The (unwritten) rules of the game

I found out that there apparently is a set sequence for consuming this!

In my ignorance, I thought that you would eat the sandwich while snacking from the crisps, but I was told that is not right.

The sequence is: sandwiches first, then crisps, then sweets. I suppose the fizz can be consumed throughout, but since we did not have proper fizz, we just had coffee with the sweet.

I find it quite interesting how something that sounds so simple in principle can have so many unwritten rules when you examine it closely!

Revelation: how would I have made sandwiches otherwise?

If I were to make the sandwiches without having seen this recipe, I would put the cheese and the ham together in the same sandwich. I would also add tomato slices, maybe lettuce, maybe cucumber slices. As to whether to use butter or olive oil… I suppose I’d decide based on the texture of the bread, but I would maybe use butter if it did not seem very absorbent. Otherwise, olive oil so it soaks up.

And it’s entirely likely that I would choose a more consistent type of bread so I can put more substantial filling in it 😇

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