Chances are, you’ll start the school year with a desire to get creative and leave the boring old sandwich behind. But you’ll end up packing them anyway because they’re easy to make and more likely to be eaten. And that’s OK – I do it too!
But … if you are searching for some sandwich alternatives, I have some ideas.
5 easy alternatives to sandwiches
1: Choose different bread
Use a different bread such as pita pockets or naan folded in half much like a soft taco shell and fill with a grated salad (try a carrot, cucumber, cheese and lettuce mix).
Or pack a Greek-style salad and a dollop of yoghurt dip so they can stuff a salad pita themselves. Or they could just tear the pita into strips and eat along with the salad.
2: Breakfast for lunch
There is nothing nutritionally amiss about an individual container of bircher muesli with grated apple and a serve of yoghurt. By the time lunch rolls around it’ll be nice and soaked up and ready to eat. Perfect for those kids who like to spend lunchtime standing up playing handball while taking great mouthfuls of their lunch.
Simply measure out around half a cup of bircher muesli (nut-free if you need to) into a portable soup container (or other suitable container). Then top with milk to cover over the level of the muesli by about 5mm (to allow for soaking). Grate over an apple, then add a couple of tablespoons of yoghurt. If your child prefers their muesli with more crunch, just pop the milk into a non-spill container for them to add when they’re ready. Don’t forget to pop in a chilly pad to keep it cool.
3: Make pancakes healthy
For a really healthy twist on pancakes, use wholemeal, spelt or oat flours with yoghurt or coconut cream added to the liquids, as well as some mashed banana or diced berries thrown in. You can make these the night before, then butter and stack up inside a sandwich box. Include a piece of fresh fruit or some chopped vegetable sticks for a lunch that’s sure to be gobbled up.
4: Pasta salad
Pasta salads are perfect served cold and can include a variety of chopped raw vegetables as well as cubed feta or fried haloumi. Again, these can be prepared the night before then topped with salad dressing before going into lunch boxes.
5: Mexican wraps
Prepare a vegetarian Mexican mix using cannellini beans and red lentils (combining plant protein sources ensures a complete protein profile) in place of meat, then spread onto a piece of Lebanese bread, or other wrap, along with some sour cream and grated cheese. Roll tightly in waxed paper then cling film for easy and less messy eating. This could be a ‘leftovers’ lunch if you make Mexican for dinner.
Keep it simple
Not every day has to be an exciting and different lunch day – there’s so much else to get on with day to day. But a couple of times a week a little extra effort can be factored in with some forward planning, just to jazz things up a bit.
I try not to stress over lunch boxes – if they’ll happily eat a Vegemite sandwich, a muesli bar and a couple of pieces of fruit, then stick with it as they can eat their protein and vegetables at home. There are times to push and there are times to opt for peace.
Here’s to empty lunch boxes returning home!