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.
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.
ThinkOutsideTheSandwich (action verb): Finding other creative ways to deliver proteins and vegetables to one’s mouth without any bread.
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).
2. Tortillas: homemade whole wheat (pictured above), sourdough, traditional corn, gluten-free or grain-free
(Recipe available in The Everything Beans Book)
3. Dosas (Recipe available in The Everything Beans Book): double fermented, rice and lentil Indian ‘pancakes’ – like a cross between a too-thick tortilla and a pita bread
Here’s a link to the too-cute panda toothpicks in case you’re interested: panda toothpicks
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.
7. Crackers: homemade whole wheat (pictured), sourdough, gluten-free (GF flour blends work in the whole wheat recipe!), grain-free.
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.
One of my favorite posts is packed with lunch food ideas: Packing a Healthy Lunch to Go and a supplementary post with Gluten-free School Lunch 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!
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.
15 thoughts on “10 Bread-Free, Packable Alternatives to Sandwiches for a Healthy Lunch on the Go”
These are great ideas. My biggest challenge is nut free school. We use Sneaky Chef’s No Nut Butter, it’s made from peas. Also, my little guy has a hard time opening a lot of the containers and is resistant to asking for help.
My daughter dislikes sandwiches and bread and we’ve made it through two years of sandwich free lunches so far. Here some some things she enjoys instead of PBJ:
Hummus with pretzel thins
Ham slices wrapped around cheese
Homemade soft pretzels
Homemade tortillas with cheese and refried beans
Crackers with spreadable cheese
Pancake or waffle “sandwich” with peanut butter or Nutella
Do you heat up the soft pretzel in the morning before packing? My son wants soft pretzels, but I was holding out for a thermos to keep them warm. Tips for packing them would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance =)
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Mom’s preference: honey and peanut butter half-sandwich, not jam…and it’s local honey!
Thanks for all the great bread-free ideas. 🙂 For our family, it’s actually the summer where we need lunch ideas for day camp. I’ll be tucking these away for next year.
A couple of bread-free, main-course lunches I’ve used are: chips for dipping in burrito filling or guacamole and cut veggies with a hearty hummus.
Great ideas! All great transportation vehicles 🙂
Great List, I’ve been itching to get some of those bento boxes.. I’ve also seen people using those silicone muffin wrappers to create compartments. My biggest challenge is doing it the night before, so the mornings go smoother. I should really cut and prep things way ahead.
Are you reviewing the planet box range? We just got one and love it!
They sent me the Planetbox Shuttle…it’s kind of small, first impression. 🙂 Katie
We have the Rover, which is a lunch box size. The Shuttle is just for a snack I think.
You should ask them for the Rover!