How to make a Peanut BETTER Sandwich

I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I don't care much for the taste of them myself, but I love them because my kids love them. Thanks to PBJ's, I have a Go To school lunch that my kids will eat any day of the year.

When school mornings get extra crazy, it's practically a given that the kids will be getting PBJ's for lunch. Because what could be easier to prepare than PBJ? Umm.... how about a pre-made PBJ? For extra lazy busy parents (like me), here's a tip: you can make the sandwiches the night before and freeze them! In the morning, you can throw them in the kids' lunchboxes and cut down on your morning rush. The sandwiches thaw just in time for recess or lunch.

If you're super super super super lazy busy, you can buy Smuckers Uncrustables, which are pre-made, frozen PBJ's with the crusts cut off. My kids love these, but the guilt of buying these became too much, and I decided to make my own frozen PBJs. Now I make a whole bunch of these in advance (about 2 loaves of sandwich bread's worth), use Press N Seal wrap to keep them airtight, and just pull them out of the freezer whenever I need them!

As I mentioned, the kids would eat PBJ's every day -- but I haven't dared test that theory, because they might get sick of PBJ's, and where would I be? So I try to limit PBJ's to once (okay, maybe twice) a week. And I try to vary the sandwich itself to make things more novel and appealing:

* I use medium-sized tortillas to make peanut butter and jelly burritos.
* I spread peanut butter and jelly on lavash bread, roll it up and cut into pinwheels.
* I use cookie cutters (Williams-Sonoma sandwich cutters rock) to cut the sandwiches into cute shapes.

Finally, I do realize that while peanut butter is a great source of protein, the jelly and white bread aren't exactly nutritious foods. So I make healthier substitutions:

* I use whole-wheat bread (or whole-wheat tortillas or bagels or lavash) instead of white.
* I use low-sugar versions of strawberry or grape jelly.
* I sometimes use fruit instead of strawberry or grape jelly. I've used raisins, sliced bananas and smashed-up blueberries, and the kids love all three.
* I sometimes cut out the bread entirely and make Ants On A Log (i.e. spread the peanut butter on celery sticks instead of bread, and put raisins on top instead of jam).

Now and then I do buy a box of white-bread, full sugar Uncrustables, and sometimes I'll even pair the peanut butter with Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread), which pretty much turns a PBJ into dessert. But those occasions are getting rarer and rarer, and I always make sure I pack carrots or tomatoes or pepper strips or fresh fruit along with it, so the overall lunch is a healthy one. I feel good about packing better peanut butter lunches -- they work for my kids and they work for me!

This post was inspired by the Yahoo Motherboard's Topic of the Month for September: Teaching Kids Healthy Eating Habits. I am not compensated for my participation in this group but I get to belong to a group of smart, savvy moms -- which is compensation enough!


Kim Moldofsky said...

I love your little variations to keep things interesting.

We use soy nut butter instead of PB to make these sandwiches a bit healthier, but sadly, my boys aren't huge fans of this go-to lunch.

Thanks for good ideas!

April said...

I usually make their lunches (including sandwich) the night before, and just stick 'em in the fridge. Never thought about putting them in a fridge!
We use whole wheat bread and fruit preserves instead of jelly.
And they have PB&J twice a week - and probably wouldn't mind having them every day!

Amy @ YodelingMamas said...

Since my kids have nut allergies (as do a couple of their best friends, coincidentally), this isn't an option in our house. But I do the same with other menu items — freeze lunch-sized portions of rotisserie chicken so I can just pop one in the lunch box.

La Jolla Mom said...

I LOVE this. Never occurred to me to freeze the night before. Thanks!

Maya said...

Thank you - this is a very nice idea of some to-go-sandwiches, my bosy will love them!