Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

10 Bread-Free, Packable Alternatives to Sandwiches for a Healthy Lunch on the Go

August 7th, 2013 · 13 Comments · Kids in the Kitchen, Tips

Sandwiches without bread for a healthy packed lunch

My mom packs a half peanut butter and jelly sandwich and an apple just about every time she needs to take a lunch to work.

I guess she doesn’t get tired of it, but for a lot of people – for plenty of different reasons – that lunch packing system just won’t work. People are clamoring for easy, healthy packed lunch ideas this time of year, and I have lots of thoughts after two years packing lunches to go – without sandwiches.

Sandwich (n): A way of getting proteins and vegetables to one’s mouth using two pieces of bread.

ThinkOutsideTheSandwich (action verb): Finding other creative ways to deliver proteins and vegetables to one’s mouth without any bread.

Whether you’re cutting down on bread, cutting it out completely, get sick of sandwiches, or you’ve simply run out of bread and (a) can’t get to the store before morning or (b) homemade bread takes too long, here are some sandwich alternatives to get your creative juices flowing for a healthy packed lunch.

Packing healthy lunches when you’re short on time and out of bread is mind-boggling. Is there such a thing as a lunch without a sandwich? Is it possible for it to be healthy too?

The Healthy Lunch Box: Sandwich-free Secrets to Packing a Real Food Lunch is loaded with strategies to streamline your packing process, stock your pantry with emergency backups for your backups, and send healthy, delicious food in the lunch box, no matter how old your eater is. Read more and start packing healthier, processed-free lunches today.

Transportation Vehicles: To carry other foods to one’s mouth

Salmon Crepes for Lunch  Turkey and cheese and avocado crepes for lunch

1. Crepes: whole wheat, sourdough, gluten-free (pictured above), grain-free (recipes in The Healthy Lunch Box).

Homemade Whole Wheat Tortilla

2. Tortillas: homemade whole wheat (pictured above), sourdough, traditional corn, gluten-free or grain-free

Here's some honesty:  no one like these except me!  But if you like Indian food, they're definitely worth a try.

3. Dosas: double fermented, rice and lentil Indian ‘pancakes’ – like a cross between a too-thick tortilla and a pita bread

Sandwiches without bread for lunch

4. Sliced vegetables: cucumbers, sweet peppers, carrots, and more

stuffed peppers

5. Vegetable “boats”: half sweet pepper (above), blanched zucchini, tomato “bowl” (scoop out the juicy part and put it in soup or sauce) and more – fill them with typical sandwich fillings or hummus, guacamole or even savory seasoned Greek yogurt in the tomato.

chickpea wraps

6. Greens wrap: large leaves of lettuce (shown above with chickpea wraps), Swiss chard, bok choy, collard greens or cabbage

Very dense leaves like cabbage may need to be lightly steamed before wrapping.

Homemade Whole Wheat crackers and cheese

7. Crackers: homemade whole wheat (pictured), sourdough, gluten-free (GF flour blends work in the whole wheat recipe!), grain-free.

summer sprouted lentil salad

8. Salad: dark green lettuce, spinach, or even sprouted lentils (pictured above)

affiliate link to Momables

9. Sliced apples (photo courtesy of Momables): Apples sliced crosswise also make super cute peanut butter sandwiches.

adult lunchcom

10. A fork. ‘Nuf said.

Why No Bread?

For our family in particular, we have a gluten sensitivity, and gluten free bread is just more complicated to make – and hard to get sandwich quality – than other bread. And in fact, before that, I made homemade sourdough bread, which is fabulous as toast but leaves something soft and supple to be desired as sandwich bread.

Making tortillas or dosas or crepes is so much easier than bread for our gluten-free (low gluten) lifestyle, so I default to a bread-free household. Also, crepes for example can be made in 10 minutes, whereas bread needs some serious hours – not possible if you’re in a bind in the morning because you forgot to pack lunches the night before!

If foods for lunch, especially packing a healthy lunch on to go, is a nemesis for you, you’re not alone.

The Healthy Lunch Box: Sandwich-Free Secrets to Packing a Real Food Lunch has a plethora of tips, recipes, and encouragement for the real food lunch-packer in your house. Consider this post your preview! I may have just let the best tips in the book out of the bag for free here, but I can’t help it – packing lunches without bread is tricky, and I want to help you guys out as much as I can. I give away content for free every day, and I guess it’s just a habit. Winking smile

Here’s one of my old favorite lunch packing posts which is packed with lunch food ideas: Packing a Healthy Lunch to Go and a supplementary post with Gluten-free School Lunch Ideas.

Healthy School Lunch Packing Ideas

Pictured above: a quad Lunchbot; also found on Amazon

If you’re ready for more lunch-packing inspiration, tips to streamline the process and save your sanity, and some favorite simple recipes that we pack for school lunches, be sure to sign up for the KS monthly newsletter and get a free mini eBook, currently a beginner’s guide to cooking gluten-free.

Also put your shopping hat on and enjoy my comprehensive reusable sandwich bag review and the every-growing all-out comparison of as many “bento style” lunch boxes as I could get my hands on.

laptop lunch box (1) (317x475)

Lately we’ve been trying out our new Squooshi food pouches (a July sponsor, thank you, Squooshi, for helping me provide free content every day!), shown above with a Laptop Lunch Box (on Amazon) They are my kids’ new favorite thing, and I think what mom loves best – besides the fact that they’re much easier to wash than they look – is that my kids can finally feel like “regular kids” at lunch.

A friend visiting said, “Whoa, those look just like Gogurts!” He probably actually used the word for Gogurt’s version of the food pouch…but I can’t remember what those are called. Hazard of the real food life, I guess. Winking smile

More Cool Sandwich-Free Ideas

I’m not the only one with fun no-bread ideas for lunch:

What’s your biggest healthy lunch packing challenge?


The Eat Well, Spend Less ladies are talking back-to-school this week:

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Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Amazon, Lunchbots, Mama Baby Love and Momables, from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. See my full disclosure statement here.

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13 Comments so far ↓

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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Squooshi reusable food pouches