Sandwiches are an easy fix for school, office and at-home lunches, but they aren't always satisfying by themselves. You can round out the sandwich meal for your family with filling sides or simply liven things up with a few treats. Adding sides with textures and colors that differ from the sandwiches can help make the meal more inviting for kids and adults alike.
In cool weather, a cup of hot soup alongside a sandwich makes a meal more satisfying by warming you up from the inside. Tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich is a popular combination, but there are plenty of other possibilities. For a filling meal, use thick soups like split pea, squash, chowders or beef and vegetable. For a lighter meal, use broth-based soups like a light chicken-noodle or minestrone. Don't forget the summer soups like gazpacho in warmer weather. While it may be daunting to try to serve such non-traditional fare to kids, let them know it's sort of like eating a fresh salsa or tomato sauce and see if that convinces them to dig in.
Potato or corn chips are traditional sandwich sides, but anything that crunches can be just as satisfying. Carrot and celery sticks or crisp cucumber rounds are healthy options, or you can make your own chips out of just about anything you can slice thinly and bake until crisp: potatoes, carrots, squash and even leafy greens such as kale. Just toss the thinnest slices you can manage in olive oil, ranch dressing or marinade and then bake them at 450 F until crisp.
Satisfy your family's sweet tooth with fruit alongside your sandwiches. Dried apricots or cherries are often popular with little ones because they're easy to grip and very sweet. Check for deals on in-season fruits at your local stores, and stock up on your kids' favorites such as strawberries, tangerines or bananas. If fruit isn't enough to satisfy the sugar cravings on its own, serve it with light yogurt. If your kids still clamor for dessert, it's okay to have a few less-healthy snacks, but only in small portions.
Sometimes all you need to make lunch more interesting is a new way of eating. Instead of serving the traditional whole, halved or quartered sandwiches, cut your sandwiches into bite-sized pieces or lengthwise strips and serve them with a selection of dips. Rather than putting mustard or mayo inside the bread, make the sandwich dry and let your family dip into these condiments as well as a selection of creamy salad dressings, broths for hot sandwiches or seasoned sour cream or plain yogurt. Serving sandwiches this way along with chips -- packaged or homemade -- can make a boring old sandwich lunch fun again.
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images