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.
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
1. Crepes: whole wheat, sourdough, gluten-free (pictured above), grain-free (recipes in The Healthy Lunch Box).
3. Dosas: double fermented, rice and lentil Indian ‘pancakes’ – like a cross between a too-thick tortilla and a pita bread
4. Sliced vegetables: cucumbers, sweet peppers, carrots, and more
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.
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.
8. Salad: dark green lettuce, spinach, or even sprouted lentils (pictured above)
9. Sliced apples (photo courtesy of Momables): Apples sliced crosswise also make super cute peanut butter sandwiches.
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.
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.
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.
More Cool Sandwich-Free Ideas
I’m not the only one with fun no-bread ideas for lunch:
- 10 Non-sandwich Lunch Ideas from Momables
- Lunchbots Breadless Sandwiches on Pinterest
- My Pinterest board for Healthy Lunch Box Ideas
- Slow Cooker Freezer Cookbook AND Grain-free Baking Cookbook from Mama Baby Love
What’s your biggest healthy lunch packing challenge?
The Eat Well, Spend Less ladies are talking back-to-school this week:
- Shaina from Food for My Family
- Amy from Kingdom First Mom
- Carrie from Denver Bargains
- Jessica from Life as MOM
If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.
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.