Fun Sandwiches For Kids' Lunches

Want your kids to eat well? Pack your kids a nutritious lunch by adding fun, healthy sandwiches that are a cut above the norm.

Kids today frequently eat fast food or junk food for lunch instead of the healthy veggies or balanced meals that their parents would prefer. Rather than handing your child five dollars for her next school meal, map out a tasty alternative that will satisfy both her and you.

Schoolchildren of all ages enjoy different kinds of sandwiches, so experiment with creative variations to pack more nutrients into your child's meal:

1. Try various kinds of bread. Instead of plain old store-bought white bread, browse a local bakery or supermarket that features several types of bread. Asiago, honey wheat, tomato basil, country French, or dark rye may attract your child's eye as well as her appetite. You can also take her along to pick out bread when you go shopping. Look for breads with unusual shapes, such as oval, rectangular, or round slices with a coarse crumb topping or heavy texture. For younger children, use a cookie cutter to cut out cute shapes from the bread, whether it be autumn leaves for fall or bells and camels for Christmas. You can even mix sandwiches by using two different flavors of bread.

2. Vary types of sandwich mixes, shapes, or styles. For example, try arranging a pita sandwich with fresh veggies and dill dressing; corn muffins filled with spinach, ham or cheese; calzones bursting with pepperoni or meatballs; date bread frosted with cream cheese; or bagels filled with creamy tuna salad or English muffins enclosing turkey and Swiss. Options are limitless when you use your imagination.

3. Experiment with fillings. Instead of relying exclusively on lunchmeat like processed ham, bologna, or turkey, which contain potentially harmful preservatives, try something new. Strawberry cream cheese on a bagel, baked beans on brown bread, cole slaw on a pita, or egg salad on potato bread make delightful innovations for the lunch crowd. Of course, pack food items in their appropriate hot or cold containers to keep them at safe temperatures and avoid possible food bacteria that can lead to illness.

4. Get crazy with condiments. Without going to extremes that might be a turnoff to your kids, play with a variety of toppings and dressings to tease their appetites. For example, instead of placing a slice of regular American cheese between the bread layers, try adding grated cheese instead in flavors like Mexican or pizza to go with the selected fillings. Rather than rely exclusively on traditional mustard, put a daub of spicy or honey mustard on that slice of chicken. Purple ketchup might start the next phase of luncheon trends at your child's school.

5. Add extra touches. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on a meatball sub, chopped chives on tuna or egg salad, pimentos with a veggie wrap, or chocolate sprinkles on peanut butter. Try coconut on cream cheese and nut bread or chopped walnuts with spinach and cheese. Wrap sandwiches in color-tinted plastic food wrap.

Sandwiches need not be boring anymore. Take your time browsing the grocery aisles in your quest for tasty variations on old luncheon favorites.

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