When I was but a small tot — older than baby J, but not by much — I longed for one thing at lunch: a certain yellow box packed with bright yellow cheese squares, perfectly round slices of “ham,” and crackers akin to buttery Ritz crackers. On the side was a bag of flavored sugar water and a sugar-packed dessert, like a cookie.
That’s right, folks. I’m talking about Lunchables.
My current view of this food-like meal kit is likely obvious from the tone of my description. Yet the school-aged me wanted nothing more than to open that yellow box like a present and construct my own lunch — that is, stack crackers and cheese like a boss. Now that I’m a few weeks away from finishing my MBA, I can say that whoever invented Lunchables is a genius.
As you might imagine, my disdain for Lunchables is rooted in the fact that these meals are high in sodium, sugar, and saturated fat and low in fiber and vitamins and minerals. When thinking about balanced meals instead of nutrients (which I encourage), these boxes fail again. I’d like to see someone try to MyPlate a Lunchables. Talk about a Sisyphean task.
Still, I get it. Convenient make-your-own bite-sized meals? Heck, I’m there. These type of lunches are not just for kids; in fact, there a whole Pinterest board devoted to “adult Lunchables” (although, honestly, a name like “Lunchables for Grownups” would have been, perhaps, better).
Enter this month’s Recipe Redux!
Ever get in a lunch rut? Need new ideas for packing your kids’ or your own lunch? Are packable noontime options dwindling? Surely you’ve met the ‘What shall I pack for lunch?” question head-on with creative ideas. Please share your healthy lunch recipe – so we can swap it into our own rotation.
With a prompt like that, how could I not make my own nutritious bite-sized lunch?
This meal barely needs a recipe, and it can be customized to incorporate your favorite tastes. If you have one of those bento lunch boxes, even better. Clearly we do not, necessitating the use of an artfully-arranged square of parchment paper.
Instead of weak crackers, watery ham, and “cheese,” these gourmet sandwich stacks are made with whole grain sesame crackers, sharp cheddar, lean roasted turkey, crisp cucumber slices, and a dab of red pepper preserves. (Now that I want to see written on a Lunchables box.) On the side are a couple of clementines, a bite of chocolate, and a not-too-sweet kombucha. You can switch up any of the ingredients: hummus or tempeh for the turkey, roasted beet slices for the cucumber, a dab of tzatziki instead of red pepper, milk instead of kombucha, etc. etc. This meal? Totally MyPlate-able.
Note: These gourmet sandwich stacks are great for kids, too.Try these gourmet sandwich stacks for your #lunchablesforgrownups #thereciperedux Click To Tweet
Gourmet Mini Sandwich Stacks
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Ingredients (1 delicious lunch)
- 2 oz. whole grain crackers
- 3 oz. sandwich filling (e.g. sharp cheddar, turkey breast, hummus, tempeh)
- 1 cup sliced vegetables (e.g. cucumber, roasted beets, sauteed greens, sliced radishes)
- 1/2 apple, sliced
- 2 tablespoons red pepper preserves
- 2 clementines
Stack whole grain crackers, sandwich filling, vegetables, and apple slices. Add 1/2 teaspoon red pepper preserves to each stack. Enjoy with clementines and drink of choice on the side, such as low fat milk or kombucha.
P.S. Check out other new lunches to try below!