If you and your family tend to brown bag it for lunch every day, you probably feel stuck sometimes as to what to serve. No one wants to eat the same old things all the time. A couple of simple twists can add all-new excitement to your sandwiches, so you can be sure your children will look forward to them and actually eat them instead of throwing them away. Or even worse, swapping them for something unhealthy.
The secret to a healthy sandwich is the bread. Aim for whole grains. Whole wheat and multigrain breads pack a lot of fiber and healthy B vitamins. If your kids don’t like the crusts, trim them off and use for homemade bread pudding.
There is white whole grain bread if they really refuse to eat brown bread. Another good option is multigrain wraps. Look for whole grain pita pockets for a nice change. Or, skip the bread and pack some really nice crackers.
The protein is what will keep you feeling full until (hopefully) dinner time. Cold cuts are a quick and easy option, but unfortunately, they are packed with salt (sodium) and preservatives. If you really can’t avoid them, ask for low sodium varieties. Buy if you do, only buy as much as you are sure you will use within a couple of days because the lack of salt (also a preservative) means the meat will spoil faster.
One of the best ways to save money is to roast a chicken or buy a rotisserie one. You can use the meat sliced, or chopped in a salad with celery and a small amount of mayo and yogurt dressing.
Roast beef is another excellent option if your family eats red meat. Slice thinly and add mayo, mustard and/or horseradish.
Most people cook a ham at the holidays. But there’s no reason you can’t make one any time and use the remaining meat after dinner for hearty ham sandwiches. Add a smear of mustard and serve as is, or chop it up to use in your favorite ham salad recipe.
Vegetables and Fruit
Coleslaw makes a great crunchy topping for most sandwiches and adds moistness thanks to the dressing. Use green or red cabbage to vary the tastes.
Lettuce and tomato are two popular choices of veg. There is a wide array of salad greens available these days, so you don’t just have to stick to iceberg or Romaine. Arugula is a popular choice because of its peppery taste.
Pickled vegetables are another good choice. People put sauerkraut on their Reuben sandwiches for some crunch and acidity. Korean kimchi is becoming more popular, especially with barbecue. Pickles are always a favorite – try dill or sweet and sour. Italians use giardiniera, an assortment of pickled carrots, zucchini and so on. It and cold cuts are the two essential ingredients in a muffuletta from New Orleans.
As for fruit, try thinly sliced pineapple, apple, pear, or apple slaw. Some people like to add julienned carrots, which go well with raisins.
What you put on the bread and atop the ingredients can make or break your healthy sandwich. Most condiments like mayo and creamy salad dressings are high in fat and calories. Water them down, so to speak, with some low-fat Greek style or regular yogurt.
You don’t want your sandwich to get soggy, so you could toast the bread and/or spread the dressing on it to act as a barrier to things seeping everywhere.
Popular dressings to add to sandwiches include Thousand Island with roast beef, and Caesar for a chicken Caesar salad sandwich.
With these ideas, sandwiches need never be boring again.