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?

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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.