12 Alternatives to a Lunch Box Sandwich

Much as my mother was an excellent home cook, her talents were never applied to our school lunches. The staple of our mid-day meals was always a sandwich, with a limited rotation of fillings. Perhaps it’s the influence of cuisines from around the world, the proliferation of inspiration on Pinterest, or a desire to switch things up in the kitchen, but lunches seem more creative than ever before. And why not? Making a PB&J day-in, day-out can get as tedious as eating one. Along those lines, here you’ll find 12 alternatives to a lunch box sandwich. Click on the recipe name to get to each of the recipes.

Mediterranean Turkey PinwheelsMediterranean Turkey Pinwheels

Layer turkey, hummus, vegetables, and olives onto whole grain flatbread, roll, and slice into colorful pinwheels.

Chicken Salad in Lettuce CupChicken Salad Lettuce Cups

Embellish chicken salad with apples and walnuts and pack alongside lettuce leaves for lunch box “tacos” instead of traditional  sandwiches.

Peanut Butter and Raspberry Toaster Tarts

Smoked Salmon Tartine

Smoked Salmon and Avocado Tartine

Top mashed avocado with cucumber slices and smoked salmon, all piled onto dense rye or other favorite bread.

Nutty Chocolate Banana Wraps

Nutty Chocolate Banana Wrap

Onto a piece of whole-grain flatbread, spread your favorite nut, peanut, or seed butter along with just enough chocolate hazelnut spread to make it count. Add a banana, roll up, and go. Yum!

Bagel on a stick

Lunch Box Bagel Kabobs

So Easy Lavash Pizza

Prosciutto Arugula Lavash Pizza

A simple pizza built on store-bought lavash instead of traditional dough. Easy enough to make in the toaster oven. Photo credit: Jennifer Martine

Thai Beef Wrap

Thai Beef Wrap

Layer roast beef with veggies, lime juice, and other Thai flavors for a savory wrap that’s a little on the exotic side. Recipe and photo thanks to Cooking Light.

Crispy Applewich

Crispy Applewich

A satisfying twist on a nut butter sandwich. Instead of bread, crunchy apple slices hold the fillings in place.

Waffle Iron Panini

Waffle Iron Panini

Use a waffle iron to make a cheese and greens panini. Add ham or turkey, too, if desired.

Tuna Salad Snack

Superfood Tuna with Crackers

A combo of tuna AND salmon makes this salad extra nourishing and just as tasty spooned onto crackers as into a sandwich.

Bunny Rabbit Rolls on Mom's Kitchen Handbook

Bunny Rabbit Rolls

Consider this a salad, only piled onto a tortilla spread with cream cheese. Sunflower seeds add crunch. Photo credit: Christine Chitnis.

 

What are your favorite non-sandwich school lunches?

small best lunchbox cover

For more school lunch ideas, head here to check out my cookbook, Best Lunch Box Ever. You can also find loads of lunch packing tips and ideas in the School Lunch Section of my blog, which you’ll find here.

 

Comments

08.11.2016 at 12:09 PM #

Hayley

You caught me just as I was inwardly groaning at the thought of another school year of packing lunches! We all read through this post and have marked up several new possibilities for both kids. Thanks!

08.11.2016 at 12:09 PM #

katiemorford

Oh good, Hayley! Thanks for the comment.

08.12.2016 at 3:35 AM #

Kim-NutritionPro Consulting

My kids will be excited to try these. They’re not big on having a sandwich every day!

08.12.2016 at 3:35 AM #

katiemorford

Mine either, Kim, and it’s fun to mix it up.

08.16.2016 at 1:38 PM #

Dana Wakefield

my teen won’t take a lunchbox, so no ice packs/refrigeration! Any suggestions?

08.16.2016 at 1:38 PM #

Dana Wakefield

Any suggestions for non sandwich lunches that don’t need refrigeration?

08.18.2016 at 7:39 AM #

Kate

We were just discussing the lunch box yesterday. This is perfect timing, Katie!

08.18.2016 at 7:39 AM #

katiemorford

Thanks Kate. Nice to hear from you!

11.08.2016 at 8:42 AM #

Fandy Show

my son 12yr. he is very thin and not average height (13+cm) but he can eat normal meal still never see any improve of put on weight and height. any advice for breakfast / lunch /dinner.

11.08.2016 at 8:42 AM #

katiemorford

It’s tricky to provide advice for you without more information. I do know that there really is a wide range of healthy when it comes to kids weights. I can give you some good resources. First, two websites with lots of information about child nutrition: Jill Castle http://jillcastle.com/blog/ and Maryann Jacobsen http://www.raisehealthyeaters.com/ They’ve also written a great book on feeding kids called Fearless Feeding. If you are really worried you could also consider talking to a registered dietitian in your area. You can find one by going here: http://www.eatright.org/find-an-expert

08.12.2019 at 1:45 PM #

Colleen

I love all of these ideas but most of them still have some type of bread. Any ideas for a kiddo who all of a sudden can’t do gluten? All my ideas (fruit, veggies, yogurt) seem to leave him with a lunch of “sides” rather than a main course.

08.12.2019 at 1:45 PM #

katiemorford

Hi Colleen, that is definitely an extra challenge when it comes to packing lunch. That said, the options for GF breads and wraps are improving. I’d suggest buying a good bento, such as the planet box or lunch bots one. I find these easy to pack and are great for things like rolled up turkey slices, cheese cubes, GF crackers, dinner leftovers, and so forth. I also think soups, pasta, and other leftovers work well in a thermos and are often GF. You can also peruse this page https://www.momskitchenhandbook.com/category/recipes/lunch/ where you’ll find tuna salad, chicken salad, ramen soup, thermos beans, and wraps that can be made with GF tortillas. Hope that helps!

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