If you’re tired of packed lunches coming back home only half eaten, then it’s time to start thinking creatively about how you present food! Sandwiches are such a staple of the Kiwi kid’s lunchbox but, let’s face it, they can be pretty bor-ing, so I’ve put together some quick and easy ideas to get you started.
Thanks to the lovely people at Tip Top, I’ve been road-testing their new Hi-Protein bread. It’s a great option for school lunches because the extra protein keeps little tummies full for longer to fuel them through the school day. Just one sandwich (i.e. 2 slices) gives kids over 50% of the required daily intake of protein for 4-8 year olds. Add in some ham, chicken, tuna, egg or cheese to your sandwich and you’ll soon be up to 100%.
Tip Top Hi-Protein comes in “Oat” (no bits!) and “Soy and Linseed” (with bits!) and both got the big thumbs up from my kids. The Oat loaf provides 10.2g of protein per serve, while the Soy and Linseed has 11.2 g, which is over 5g more than Tip Top Supersoft White – and that’s more protein than in a 250ml glass of standard blue-top milk! I was also pleased to see that the fibre content of Tip Top Hi-Protein was significantly higher than my usual loaf. Best of all, the bread still has that lovely softness that Tip Top is famous for, making it very easy to cut, stamp and roll for my sandwich creations.
OK. Let’s get started…
Think Outside the Square
There’s no excuse for boring sandwiches when creating shapes is so simple! Haul out your cookie cutters to make simple circle, heart or flower shapes, or get hold of some of our specialist sandwich cutters to cut puzzle pieces, animals, robots, vehicles etc.
Try cutting a ‘peep hole’ in the top layer of the sandwich to reveal a little of the filling, or stamp out a message with our alphabet cutters.
[So there’s no waste, store your crusts and offcuts in a ziplock bag in the freezer. When you have lots, blitz them into breadcrumbs in the food processor and store the crumbs back in the bag in the freezer. They can be used straight from frozen!]
Change Your Fillings to Toppings
The filling doesn’t always need to go inside the sandwich! Deli meats, cheese, and veges can be cut out and layered on top of the bread. This owl was made with luncheon, cheese, cucumber, carrot and grapes, and a series of circle cutters. To create ovals for the wings, cut a circle of luncheon, then use the same sized cutter again to cut off one side of the circle. The ‘cupcake’ is topped with cheese and a cherry tomato, held together with a leaf food pick. (The gorgeous bunny egg shaper is available here.)
These ‘apple’ sandwiches have ham and cheese with flaxseed ‘pips’, and the little clocks are topped with cheese and tiny details in red pepper and cucumber.
‘Filling’ offcuts can be stored in a container in the fridge and tossed into a salad or stir-fry for dinner. If you’re worried about the toppings falling off while the lunchbox is in transit, you can use a little spread (butter, mayonnaise etc.) to ‘stick’ the fillings on, or use some of our cute food picks to secure the layers. Even better - wrap them up tightly in a reusable Honeywrap!
Make a Pocket
Pocket sandwich makers cut off the crusts to form a tightly sealed, and very cute, little package, and they put an end to the problem of filling oozing out! We have panda and heart-shaped pocket makers but, with lovely soft bread like Tip Top Hi-Protein, it’s possible to make your own. To create the sandwich ‘pasties’ shown below, cut your bread into large circles, place filling on one half of the circle, then fold the bread over and crimp firmly around the edge with a fork – just like you would with pastry.
Sandwich ‘Takeaways’ – Sushi and Kebabs
Try rolling sandwiches up sushi-style. It’s easiest if you remove the crusts first, and it can help to flatten the bread slightly first with a rolling pin to get a tighter roll. I prefer to keep the bread fluffy, even if it means the roll isn’t quite so neat and tidy! Either secure the rolls with a food pick, or stand them on end and pack them in close together so they won’t unravel before lunchtime.
Kebabs are another quick and easy change…and everything tastes better on a stick, right?! Deconstruct your sandwich and thread the layers onto a bamboo skewer. Remember to cut off the sharp end if your children are very young. Ham, salami, cheese, lettuce, cucumber, olives, cherry tomatoes and peppers are great for sandwich kebabs – or try a BLT skewer with layers of bread, bacon, lettuce and cherry tomatoes. Or cream cheese sandwiches layered with pieces of chicken and dried apricots…let your imagination run wild!
This rocket is simply mini round sandwiches threaded onto a skewer with a pineapple nose cone and carrot flames!
Don’t forget to offer some crunch sometimes too! Toasted sandwiches (make sure they are cold before you pack them to avoid sogginess!), cheese and marmite ‘mouse-traps’, and toast ‘soldiers’ to dip into hummus, will all go down a treat. And if all else fails and you're really pushed for time in a mad-morning lunch-packing panic - just throw some food picks into a sandwich for instant fun!
So, there you go. Pretty easy, isn’t it? Just 3 simple steps:
- Pop down to your local New World or Countdown supermarket and pick yourself up some delicious Tip Top Hi-Protein bread.
- Head to The Lunchbox Queen for some handy tools and lots of inspiration to help you get creative with sandwiches.
- Stand back and watch the lunchboxes start arriving home empty at the end of the day!
[The bread for this article was kindly supplied by Tip Top Bakery but the sandwich creations and opinions are all my own! The lunchboxes and lunchbox accessories featured in these images are all available from The Lunchbox Queen. For hundreds more healthy lunchbox ideas, follow us on Facebook and check out The Lunchbox Queen on Pinterest. To find out more about Tip Top Hi-Protein bread, have a look here.]