Sandwich-Swapping Bobby Flay Dishes on School Lunches

Remember swapping sandwiches back in school? A peanut butter and jelly could be traded up for a turkey hero, or a tuna sandwich could be swapped for bologna—and no one would even talk to the kid with pimiento loaf. The sandwich swap made life a little easier to digest when Mom packed the same old lunch day after day.

Chef Bobby Flay did the same, but on a much larger scale last year when he and actress Lori Loughlin teamed up with Hellmann’s Mayonnaise to arrange a worldwide sandwich swap on Facebook, called the virtual Sandwich Swap ’n’ Share. Flay also created a number of recipes for the campaign that are perfect for both school lunches and after-school snacks, and, of course, they incorporate Hellmann’s Mayonnaise. For videos, tips and recipes, go to Hellmanns.com. Hellmanns.com.

Flay took a few moments to chat with us about his experience with school lunches.

iVillage: What’s your strategy for making dishes that even the pickiest eaters will like?

Flay: I was just talking to a friend of mine whose kid only eats white foods. I don’t know how it gets to that point, but I think you just have to keep putting different foods on the table in front of them. You can’t give up—that’s such a huge mistake. You’re the parent; you’ve got to be firm and not give in to what they want. Because they’re kids, they don’t know what’s best for them. You do. I feel like if you just pack everything with a lot of flavors and expose them to that, they’ll eventually get used to eating different things.

iVillage: Speaking of picky eaters, how were you as a kid?

Flay: I’ve asked my mom about this, and she says I was pretty good. Of course I complained here and there, but overall, I was good about eating.

iVillage: What kind of school lunches did she pack for you?

Flay: I had a phase of my childhood where I had an obsession with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I think I ate them every day, and I never got sick of them. I was a big fan of the crunchy.

iVillage: So no pimiento-loaf horror stories?

Flay: No [laughing]! Definitely not. Luckily my mom never did that to me.

iVillage: Do you think it’s worth the effort to pack school lunches every morning just to avoid making kids eat in school cafeterias?

Flay: Of course, that stuff is awful. I can’t even believe what they’re serving. My daughter keeps asking me, “Dad, can’t you come to my school and redo the lunches?” But there’s nothing I can do. There are too many rules and regulations that make it impossible to implement any change. It’s really too bad.

What was your favorite (or least favorite) childhood sandwich? Chime in below!

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