Sandwiches aren’t just for lunch. Think of them in snack-size versions for a quick pick-me-up.
They’re easy to prep, easy to handle, easy to eat, and easily adaptable to your kids’ preferences.
“Mini sandwiches can be a great way to introduce new veggies and whole grain breads,” suggests Wesley Delbridge, registered dietitian nutritionist and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Sandwich minis are also the perfect way to re-purpose leftovers when you have that extra slice of cold cuts or two spoonfuls of tuna salad that didn’t quite fit into that lunch-sized sandwich.
But don’t package your mini sandwich creations as leftovers. Give them unique appeal by serving them on English muffins, tea rolls or toast, instead of plain old white, wheat or rye. Think about cutting hotdog rolls in half (a nice way to utilize that lonely bun in the freezer).
“Keep it new and fresh,” Delbridge says. “Kids get excited about anything new, even if it means using the same ingredients. If you can, try to go with protein that you have cooked yourself rather than highly processed lunch meats that can be high in sodium and other added ingredients.
One beauty of mini sandwiches (call them finger or “tea sandwiches” if you like) is that fillings are readily available from the pantry or fridge or can be made ahead, so preparation time and cleanup will be minimal.
For younger kids, mini sandwiches can also be fun. Consider using cookie cutters to turn their snacks into intriguing geometric or animal shapes. Such shapes even open the door to educational discussion. After all, who doesn’t want to eat an elephant or chow down on a hexagon?
“When you make them ‘kid-size’ and create fun shapes or patterns,” Delbridge says, ‘kids are more willing to try new foods—some that normally they wouldn’t even think about trying.”
Another trick: Try making your sandwiches “inside-out.” Wrap a slice of turkey or your favorite lean deli meat (brushed with mustard) around a sesame bread stick. Or wrap that leftover piece of roast beef or ham around an apple slice. Add a slice of cheese if you like.
For an added boost, serve your mini sandwiches along with apple wedges, melon chunks, or orange sections rather than chips. You can load your sandwich with veggies (they add color) or even use slices of cucumber in place of bread.
Remember: mustard contains less calories and less fat than traditional mayonnaise—and you’ll probably stay healthier with a “whole grain” bread than a “multi-grain” alternative.
Have an idea for a sandwich mini? Share your tried-and-true sandwich success stories with all of us at Learning Liftoff. For previous Snack of the Week suggestions and more articles on healthy eating, visit Learning Liftoff’s food posts and view our recipes.