Kick Off the School Year with Healthier Sandwiches

With a new academic year dawning, it's time to revisit that favorite lunchbox staple: the sandwich. Here’s a primer for busy parents on breads and other sandwich bookends, plus several possibilities for creative fillings. You may want to print this list out. On hectic mornings, it's easy to forget the full range of possibilities.

The Bread
Many parents reach for the sliced bread when strolling the grocery aisles, but it may be time to expand your, and your child's, horizons. Think pita bread, naan or other flatbread, whole grain crackers, bagels, flour or corn tortillas, or even frozen waffles. Keep in mind that whole grain varieties of all the above items pack far more nutritional punch that their refined flour counterparts, and that the words "multigrain" and "enriched" can be misleading. (They simply mean the product contains a mix of flours and added vitamins, not that whole grains are present.) Zero in on the word "whole," and make sure it's the first item in the ingredients list. Look, too, for at least 4 or 5 grams of fiber per serving.

Beyond PB&J
With more and more schools going peanut-free, you'll want to have a handy list of favorite sandwich fillings. Think hummus and vegetables; tuna and cucumbers; cheese and apple; bean and bell pepper burritos; or leftovers from dinner (roast chicken and dried cranberries make a nice sandwich). Invite your kids to brainstorm other combinations with you, too. Some of their favorite combos might sound weird—my sons love ham with dried apricots— but go with it. If you need more ideas, check out these lunchtime recipes, like the delicious tuna pinwheels shown above.

Most important, keep your wits about you, and share ideas. Sometimes all it takes is a chat with a fellow parent to spark new sandwich combinations, and possibilities.

Get more ideas for kid-friendly lunches!


Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule. Read all of Cheryl's iVillage posts here.

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