Sunday, April 20, 2014

FUN sandwich-free lunch ideas

Do your kids like sandwiches? Sandwiches are neat, portable, and nearly a no-brainer, aren't they? My little guy likes sandwiches, and he would eat them every day if that's what I packed for his lunch. Z is a good eater, and will eat just about anything that I put in his lunch. So I admit, it's easy for me to fall into the 'sandwich, pretzels, fruit, done!!' rut. When Z started first grade last year, I decided to change up his lunch a couple times a week to break the monotony of a sandwich lunch every single day (um, yeah, I know, this is probably more for me than for Z). 

Many of you, however, have kids that don't like sandwiches, or that tire of them quickly in the lunch box. So, today, I've pulled together 12 of Z's favorite non-sandwich lunches that I've made. Yes, we're liberating ourselves from bread and breaking free from the monotony and boredom of the sandwich lunch.

Below this collage, you will find the links to each sandwich-free lunch numbered 1-12. Click on the link to find out more about each individual lunch. 

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1.     Egg Muffins-  The recipe for egg muffins can be found under my "Recipes" tab above. These are great in a lunchbox because they are still very tasty at room temp.
2.     PB&J Rollups-  Tortilla roll ups are a great lunch idea. You can fill them with PB&J, meat and cheese, veggies, chicken or tuna salads, or whatever fillings you like best.
3.     Quesadillas-   Quesadillas are good in the lunchbox if your kids don't mind them room temp.
4.     Leftover pasta-  I like to send a Thermos in Z's lunchbox for items that need to be served warm. The possibilities are endless with a Thermos.....leftover spaghetti, lasagna, macaroni & cheese, soups, stews, dinner leftovers all work great in a Thermos. Z even likes to have oatmeal in his Thermos for lunch.
5.     Hotdogs-  OK...what kid doesn't like hot dogs! I buy either Natural Selects or Applegate brand nitrate and preservative free hotdogs and lunch meats so I don't feel so bad about sending these in Z's lunch often.
6.     Pasta dippers-  This was an idea passed on to me from another lunch blogger...sending pasta and sauce separate in order to allow for dipping. Z loved this in his lunch.
7.     Pizza Rolls-   Z loves the store bought pizza rolls, so on occasion, I will send them for his lunch. He likes them fine at room temp.
8.     Potstickers-  Potstickers are a new item that I've recently sent in Z's lunch. I can't say that he was overly thrilled with them. But, if your kids like potstickers, they are great in the lunchbox with a side of dipping sauce.
9.     Pancakes-  Pancakes are always a hit with Z in his lunchbox. Served with a container of real maple syrup, they are always a winner.
10.   Pizza stuffed biscuits-  I bought these little biscuits stuffed with pizza sauce, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese at the grocery store. These would be easy to recreate using a can of crescent rolls.
11.   Tuna salad-  Chicken, ham, tuna, and egg salads are all great in the lunchbox.
12.   Corn dogs-   Z loves the mini corn dogs. These are the Morningstar Farms brand veggie corn dogs.

Here are some other great sandwich-free lunch ideas:

**Diced rotisserie chicken or turkey, lunch meat roll ups
**Rice or Pasta salad
**Chicken nuggets-  My kids don't mind them at room temp.
**Savory muffins-  There are all kinds of yummy recipes on Pinterest for pizza muffins, ham and cheese muffins, and chicken pot pie muffins. I have not made any of these, but they sound delish!
**Boiled eggs-  Z is not a fan of boiled eggs, but they are great in a lunch, especially if you mold them into super cute shapes with an egg mold.
**Oatmeal-  Oatmeal is great in a Thermos.
**Milk and cereal- Yes, you can send cereal with milk for lunch if the milk is sent in a Thermos to keep it cold. Send the dry cereal in a container that will allow for the milk to be poured in.
**Slice of pizza
**Macaroni and cheese-  Who doesn't love mac & cheese for lunch?? It's great if sent in a Thermos.
**Tacos-  Z is not a huge taco eater (what!! A kid that doesn't like tacos?). He will on occasion eat a chicken taco if I send the meat, cheese, and other fixings separate and he gets to "build" his own.

Here are 5 great lunch packing tips to keep in mind.
  • Pick the right container. I typically use the Easy Lunch Boxes which are divided into three sections or the Munchkin Mealtime Bento box which also has three different compartments with lids. Fun and unique Bento boxes would be great, too.
  • Be sure your lunch boxes are BPA-free and are microwavable and freezable (if you think you’ll be reheating or freezing the food). 
  • Maximize your leftovers. Leftovers are a beautiful thing! Dinnertime leftovers are great in the lunchbox because they make lunch packing quick and easy. I often plan my family's meals so that I can have leftovers for lunches. A Thermos is a great investment to add to your lunch making arsenal. 
  • Mix up the lunchbox. So what if certain foods don't "go” with each other. Kids don’t care! PB&J with pasta salad? Why not?
  • Go for convenience. You don't have to pack a gourmet lunch to have a healthy and nutritional lunch. Many convenience food items now are very healthy and are great choices for kids. My kids love the on-the-go fruit and veggie pouches and portable fruit snack cups. They’re high fructose corn syrup-free and taste great. My kids also love the packages of freeze dried fruit. They're 100% fruit and are preservative and additive free. 

I'd love to know what your favorite sandwich-free lunch foods are. I'm always looking for new food ideas for the lunchbox.

This lunch post is linked What's for lunch Wednesday


  1. I love all your lunches. They just full of colors. I bet you can make the pickiest eater eat all their food. Yum!