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Home Cookin': Easy Sandwich Upgrades


Last year, when my son Cal was in first grade, he wanted a turkey sandwich with cheese and mustard packed in his lunch box every single day. I went along with this for a few months, eventually convincing him to let me add a few leaves of lettuce or baby spinach.

I always offered other options. He always insisted on his "usual." But I couldn't help but notice that most days the "usual" came back half eaten, at best. We needed a change, so I set out to come up with some new, exciting sandwich choices to break out of our turkey rut. 

If your kids are stuck on a boring sandwich,  these ideas might help them make a break from the usual.

Sweet Tortilla Rolls

1 whole wheat tortilla
cream cheese
strawberry jam (or your favorite flavor)

Lay the tortilla flat, spread with a layer of cream cheese, leaving about a 1/2 inch around the edges uncovered. 
Top with about a tablespoon of jam, spreading lightly. Starting at one side, roll the tortilla tightly, being careful not to squeeze out the filling. Cut in half and wrap in foil. 

Peanut Butter and Fruit

2 slices hearty, whole grain bread
peanut butter (or sun butter if your school is peanut-free)
thinly sliced fruit (strawberries, peaches, nectarines, plums, and apples work well) 
shredded, unsweetened coconut (optional)

Spread peanut butter on both slices of bread. Arrange fruit slices in a single layer on one slice; top with a sprinkle of coconut, if desired, then with the other slice of bread. Cut in half and wrap with foil.

Sandwich Slaw
This is a delicious way to perk up any savory sandwich. It pairs wonderfully with leftover cooked chicken or turkey, deli ham, tofu, even turkey and cheese! Try using bagels, pretzel rolls, or pack two mini sandwiches on dinner rolls.

(My trick: spread the inside of each piece of whatever bread you're using with just a tiny bit of butter (or margarine or mayonaise). It will keep the bread from getting soggy no matter what you pile on your sandwich!)

1 cup red cabbage, thinly shredded
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 carrot cut into thin matchsticks (you can buy these precut and bagged)
1/4 cup snow peas, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 Tbsp vinegar (I like rice wine or apple cider)
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Toss all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Use right away or refrigerate overnight. 
Makes about 2 cups. This will keep in the fridge for a few days, but then it will lose it's crunch.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.