Simple Alternatives to Sandwich Lunches

posted by Andrea | 05/19/2011

It’s nearing the end of the school year, and I’m guessing you’re probably sick of packing lunches every. single. day.

NEWS FLASH: I have a hunch your kids are sick of eating those boring lunches every. single. day. And if you pack a lunch for yourself — chances are you could use a few new ideas as well!

If you’ve fallen into a boring lunch rut, here are a few very simple ways to mix things up a bit.

1. Leftovers

Leftovers are my all-time favorite lunch option, and I almost always make extra food for dinner so we can take the leftovers for lunch the next day. We simply pack our lunches as we clean up the dinner dishes and then we’re done thinking about it for the rest of the night.

Obviously, you would need access to a microwave {or be willing to eat your lunch cold}, but nothing hits the spot when you’re hungry for lunch like hot soup, stew, pasta, casseroles, baked potatoes, or whatever else was for dinner last night.

2. Pizza

I’ve mentioned it before, but Dave and I are big pizza fans. We pretty much like any type of pizza — especially homemade pizza — which is a great alternative to boring sandwich lunches and can easily be eaten cold and without any silverware.

3. Salad

I LOVE a good salad in my lunch — and even kids can appreciate a salad if you give them kid-friendly toppings like chopped up meat, cheese, croutons, bacon bits, and their favorite dressing. I like to load my salads up with dried fruits, nuts, and veggies; Dave still prefers meet and cheese!

And if you don’t want a lettuce salad, you could always make chicken/tuna salad, pasta salad, avocado salad, or this Improvisational Michigan Salad.

4. Wraps


I know, it’s practically the same thing as a sandwich, but there’s just something about eating your meat, cheese, and veggies on a tortilla instead of between bread!! Wraps are a great way to mix things up without a lot of extra hassle.

I also like wrapping up refried beans, cheese, and salsa in a tortilla to make a mini burrito {warm or cold}

5. Meat, Cheese, and Crackers

Again, kind of the same general concept as a sandwich, but isn’t it more fun to stack your meat and cheese on  crackers instead of eating it with boring bread??

And if you’re really creative, you could cut the meat and cheese into shapes for the kid’s lunches!

6. Muffin Tin Lunches

Ok, so these might take a bit more creativity, but aren’t they fun!!!


The idea is to take a bunch of different finger foods and put them in the individual muffin compartments. Then use the muffin tin as your plate. Seriously, what kid {or adult} wouldn’t LOVE this?  It’s also a really great way to get the proper amounts of fruits, veggies, dairy, protein, etc.

You can click here to see more photos of really creative muffin tin lunches.

And if you want to take your muffin tin lunch on the go — you can use these fun Bento boxes for a simliar concept to the muffin tin lunches.


7. Random Finger Foods

On days when I’m really struggling to come up with lunch ideas, I go with a variety of finger foods.

  • Fruits {I especially love apples and peanut butter}
  • Veggies and dip
  • Muffin or slice of quick bread
  • Yogurt
  • Granola Bar
  • Cheese cubes
  • Pretzels
  • Etc. Etc.

You can tailor these finger foods to each person’s individual tastes — and clean out your fridge in the process!

More Ideas:

Here are a few more lunch ideas {especially good for at-home lunches} from my friend Racine over at Flavor and Freedom.

Mandi from Life…Your Way has nine Healthy and Fun Lunch Ideas

I love this blog — all about Healthy Lunch Ideas…tons of great info there!

So with only a few more weeks of school left, make an effort to be creative and “think outside the bread”!

{top image credit}


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  1. Healthy Alternatives To Sandwiches For Lunch « Healthfood Tips


    […] Simple Alternatives to Sandwich Lunches – Andrea Dekker – Simple Alternatives to Sandwich Lunches posted by Andrea | 05/19/2011. It’s nearing the end of the school year, … Your Way has nine Healthy and Fun Lunch Ideas. I love this blog — all about Healthy Lunch Ideas … […]

  2. Julian


    I’m very like homemade pizza.
    I think it healthy and delicious.


  3. keri m.


    While I love these creative ideas for lunches, I feel I have to mention the option of getting creative about how we choose to package our lunches. Yesterday’s simple bagged lunch can make a whole lot of trash when multiplied by hundreds of students. At our house we’re trying for ‘trash-free lunches’ and I was surprised at how far a water bottle, sandwich pack, and cloth napkin can go. Here’s a recipe for granola bars to eliminate that bit of trash as well:


  4. Sue


    These look great.. the only challange for the kids to keep it cold until they get to school.
    Sue in NJ


    Andrea Reply:

    We always take ice packs on our lunch bags…everything stays super cold until lunch. Or you could always freeze a water bottle and stick that in their lunches — it will keep lunch cold and be mostly melted in time for lunch.


  5. Alana of Taylor Made Home


    Thanks for this post. I am a SAHM to a two year old PICKY eater. These ideas seem easy and can add variety to both of our lunches. I especially love the muffin pan idea. Makes lunch a little more fun!


    Andrea Reply:

    Aren’t the muffin tin lunches such a great idea. Seriously, I think I would even enjoy lunch more if it was served to me in such a cute way!!

    I might just have to go stock up on some extra muffin tins 🙂