Recipes

Healthy Back-to-School Sandwiches

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This post is part of a month-long August series, in which we asked writers to share their favorite sandwich recipes with us, to celebrate National Sandwich Month.

It's back to school, ladies, and getting healthy meals and snacks on the table in a hurry can pose a bigger challenge than ever during the school year. As parents, we often rely on sandwiches to fill hungry little tummies. Kids love sandwiches — they’re easy and quick. What parent hasn’t fallen back on the old sandwich-and-soup trick at the end of a long day?

Sandwiches have earned a bad reputation in part because they’re the basis of fast food. Recently, we even heard in the news about some bread that contained ingredients found in foam yoga mats! How can we be sure we’re giving our children the best?

Very likely, our kids will be eating lots of sandwiches this school year, so the best thing to do is make them count, nutritionally speaking. Let me tell you how to make sure your kids’ sandwiches are healthy.

Usually a sandwich is built from two components: bread and filling. Let’s take a look at each.

Bread

It’s important to read labels. When you check the ingredients of most grocery store bread, you will find a very long list. Typically, that list can be overwhelming to try to decipher. You may not even be able to pronounce many of the ingredients. What is this stuff and why is it in there? Bread does not need all of these additives because it is a very simple food. It requires only four or five ingredients: Good flour, water, yeast, salt, and maybe a bit of oil or sweetener.

Organic bread typically has cleaner ingredients. If you have access to certified organic bread, it is definitely worth the extra money because this is a major part of your child’s diet.

It’s not always easy to find good, healthy bread that is also affordable, so why not try making it? I promise, it isn’t that hard. Making bread is a very kid-friendly activity — and it's so much fun tasting the results. Make a big batch and freeze several loaves so you’ll have a supply of good bread on hand. Once you have healthy bread in the house, you’re halfway to a better sandwich.


Fillings

This is the easy part, because just about anything is better on good bread. My child loves hard-boiled egg mashed down with ripe avocado; that's a nutritional powerhouse. Minced or shredded vegetables mixed with cream cheese, nut butter with fresh or dried fruit, cheese and fruit, leftover roasted meats sliced thinly — just about anything tasty and healthy can be turned into a sandwich. Teatime classics like cucumber or radish sandwiches with butter and sea salt also make a fun, wholesome snack.

Look for fillings that are free of added sugar, salt, and preservatives. Fresh is best, but if you use pickles, condiments, jams, or jellies, check the labels to make sure they are free of high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial coloring, and preservatives.

Once you have the basics — healthy bread and wholesome fillings — be sure to enjoy the ease and simplicity of sandwiches. You don’t have to feel bad about taking shortcuts when you know the result is yummy AND nutritious.


This piece is part of a series focused on helping parents prepare their kids for back-to-school. For more tips on getting organized, mastering multiple schedules, and prepping for the 2021 school year, see our full back-to-school guide.


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