I pack my own lunch while I prepare my daughter’s. Hers goes in a purple lunch sack with kittens on the front. Mine simply goes back into the fridge for me to eat later. I work from home, so having it ready to go saves me time and helps me stay focused. I was in a sandwich rut for a while, but have broken free!
Here are some alternatives to packing a sandwich every single day.
Make your own “lunchable”
Slice your favorite deli meats and cheeses into cracker size pieces. Add crackers and a piece of fruit. I’ve used left over slices of chicken, steak or kielbasa in place of the lunch meat.
Wrap it up
Tortillas are a fun alternative to bread. You can fill them with whatever you’d put on a sandwich. Roll them up tightly and either leave them whole or cut them into spirals. My daughter loves peanut butter, honey and banana inside a whole wheat tortilla.
Use a pita, pizza crust (either store-bought or homemade), tortilla or hamburger roll to make your own pizza. Top it with sauce, cheese and anything else you need to use up in your fridge. I love to make mine with pesto, feta and leftover veggies.
I always pack lots of extra napkins for this one! Put a hearty, protein filled dip in a container. Turkey chilli, hummus or black bean dip are good options. Throw in veggie slices and tortilla chips for dipping.
Throw in leftovers
Some leftovers taste fine cold. Leftover slices of grilled chicken or steak are great lunch starters. Add yogurt, baby carrots and whole grain crackers to complete the meal.
Use the thermos
In the age of reusable water bottles and juice boxes, most thermoses go unused. My daughter’s lunchbox didn’t even come with one, but it was inexpensive to purchase. I fill it with soup or macaroni and cheese.
Food on a stick
Use a straw instead of wooden skewers for little ones. This is a fun way to use up leftovers. Put chunks of meat, cheese, veggies or bread cubes on the stick. I like to include honey mustard for dipping.
Use your fingers
Kids love being encouraged to eat with their fingers – and I do, too! Fill individual baggies with rolled up ham slices, chunks of cheese, grapes, a hard-boiled egg, Teddy Grahams and celery sticks.
This is another way I use up leftovers. I start with plain leftover pasta. Then I add in either leftover meat or slice up deli meat. I throw in whatever fruits, vegetables or cheese looks appealing, along with some salad dressing. Toss it together for a delicious meal.
Start with a container of lettuce or baby spinach. Add in baggies of other toppings, such as additional veggies, fruits, meats, cheeses or nuts. Include a small container of dressing. You or your child can add the other ingredients to the lettuce bowl at lunch time, put the lid back on and shake it all up to distribute the dressing.
My daughter’s friends are always jealous when she has something other than a sandwich in her lunchbox. There are still plenty of days I just throw in a PB&J sandwich, but mixing it up saves us from boredom. We’re also eating a great variety of foods, including vegetables.