I totally get it.
As busy parents with tons of errands and activities every day or a rushed morning trying to get to work on time, packing your kids’ lunches for school seems like a most unwelcome necessity.
Your kids, of course, need to eat, but why can’t the sandwiches pack themselves?
Even the 15-20 minutes it takes cuts out something else from your schedule, making you have to skip breakfast or speed through a few yellow lights. Hence, this leads you to the question:
Can you meal prep sandwiches?
You can meal prep just about any food, including sandwiches.
Prepped sandwiches won’t be grab-n-go: You’ll still have to assemble them, but meal prepping them should save at least 5-10 minutes of your time.
Read on to learn the possible ways to meal prep sandwiches and other meal prepping strategies for an easy, relaxing morning or to at least be able to sit down and eat breakfast before you go.
Sandwich Meal Prep: 3 Possibilities
Okay, here goes. What you need to know about sandwich meal prep is that you can’t make sandwiches beforehand and stick them in the fridge.
Because the bread will get soggy. And as soggy bread is an international symbol for a bad day, you don’t exactly want your child to have to go through that, especially if they’re already going through a bad day.
So, what is the solution? How do you meal prep sandwiches, then?
You prepare this way by putting all of the sandwich ingredients together, making it quick and easy to access them. The meat and cheese will already be sliced, but maybe you can put them each in a plastic container so they’re easier to grab than in a bag.
You can take your iceberg lettuce and cut it up or pull off leaves and put them in a container so that all you have to do is grab one. You can slice up the tomatoes and pickles beforehand and leave the bread out on the counter.
So picture this:
When you’re making the sandwiches in the morning, you have all of the sandwich’s contents lined up in the meat and cheese drawer of your fridge, ready to go.
First, you grab a slice of cheese; then you grab a few slices of deli meat right next to it, then a piece of lettuce, a tomato slice, and maybe a slice of pickle or two. You put each on the sandwich one by one, close it off with the top bread slice, and voila!
All you have to do is assemble the ingredients and possibly put mayo on the bread slices, and then you’re golden! That’s the general idea of the assembly line method.
Sandwich Kits for You
The other option is to combine the ingredients so that each container has a serving of each food item, rather than separate each ingredient into its own containers.
This way, in the morning, all you have to do is grab one container, put its contents on the bread, and stick it in the lunchbox!
Then toss the container into the sink, and you’ve got one less thing in your fridge.
The one problem with this method is the contents of that container may get soggy sitting in the tomato and pickle juice.
Sandwich Kits for Your Kids
So, here’s an idea that would make your meal prep even faster:
What if you just put the container of ingredients straight into their lunchbox and the two slices of bread into a bag, and they assembled their sandwich during lunchtime?
This would keep your kids’ sandwiches fresh and reduce the threat of soggy bread from the sandwich’s contents or the ice packs in the lunchbox.
(Keep the bread in an outside pocket of the lunchbox or backpack.)
These are little strategies you could try to mix things up. Any possible way to save time in your morning routine is worth trying!
Pros and Cons: Assembly Line
The assembly line option is good if you want the ingredients lined up and ready to go and freshly placed in the sandwich.
This method will make the sandwich less likely to get soggy by lunchtime. But this method takes more time in the morning.
Pros and Cons: Sandwich Kits for You
The sandwich kit option, keeping the ingredients all in one container and placing them onto the bread in the morning, is much faster and will likely shave off twice as much time (10 minutes rather than five) as the first option.
However, with all of the ingredients marinating with each other (especially the juicy ones) overnight, the ingredients will most likely wet the bread before lunchtime.
(Unless your child only eats meat and cheese in their sandwich or non-juicy foods. Then it shouldn’t be as much of a problem.)
Pros and Cons: Sandwich Kits for Your Kids
And if you decide to do part B of the second option, leaving the ingredients in the container and having the kids create the sandwich at lunch, it will likely not become soggy at all! Having it all freshly put together will leave the sandwich dry and delicious.
However, you’d need to store the bread separately, or else it will get soggy from the ice pack in the lunchbox.
If there’s no outside pocket on the lunchbox for the bread, or if you don’t think your child will remember to bring the bread to lunch, then I’d say bag the idea.
There’s nothing sadder than having no bread and eating the contents of a sandwich instead of a sandwich.
Therefore, We Offer You a Different Solution
The methods above are great if sandwiches are essential to your plan. If it simply must be a sandwich you make your child for lunch, then great!
But if sandwiches are not necessary — they were just your idea of a quick meal — let us propose a counteroffer and see if it would work even better for your lifestyle.
You’re still going to have to carve that part of your morning routine out and dedicate it to sandwich making.
So if you really can’t afford to do that, or it would give you peace of mind not to, then you can try this next meal prep option.
It’s called leftovers!
What do you eat every night? Do you make dinners as well?
In my home, one of my parents made dinner every evening. More often than not, we had leftovers in the fridge that we’d eat later that week or that my dad would take to work.
Another option? Leftovers that kids could take to school!
Using leftovers would be the quickest, most effortless meal prep and would take almost all of your prep time away in the mornings!
After dinner is done, instead of putting all of the food into one container and sticking it in the fridge for eventual consumption, divide the food up into separate, smaller containers for your children and stick them at the front of the fridge.
The next morning, simply grab the containers out of the fridge and stick one in each lunchbox with the appropriate utensils! Easy!
When doing this, make sure that the food can either be eaten cold or that your children have access to a microwave at the school. If they don’t, and the food is cold, you should go back to sandwiches as your main plan of action.
However, if they can eat the leftovers the way they should be eaten, then, by all means, do it!
Try it out, and see if it’s the right decision for your family’s lifestyle.
See if your kids are okay with eating leftovers for lunch (maybe make sure the meals are ones they really enjoy), and make sure that it fits with your dinner plans.
If you typically use leftovers for dinner later in the week, then good to know! Back to sandwiches!
Other Tips for Easy Morning Meal Prep Or Evening Meal Prep
Have the lunch boxes set out beforehand in the mornings. Put them on the counter right near the fridge so you can just turn around and plop the containers of prepped sandwiches in!
Put food at the front of the fridge and ice packs at the front of the freezer so you don’t lose time looking for them.
Whether you prefer a morning assembly line, sandwich kits, or repacking leftovers, there are several options to save you time in the mornings. Do whatever makes your routine the least stressful and the kids the happiest.