Take This Off Your Plate: Sandwich-Making

Take this off your plate: sandwich-making.  A Frugal Mama reader tip saves time and money on school-day lunches.

My friend Eve in Virginia occasionally sends me little tips about how she saves time and money. When she found out that we were having another baby, she offered to write one up for me.

Making school lunches can get old, I agree. I will sometimes assemble lunches while I’m cooking dinner the night before, and I love those mornings when I have one less thing to do. Here is what Eve does to simplify:


 

M aking school lunches just seems to be one more chore in the kitchen. I decided there had to been a more efficient way. So, I came up with the sandwich line-up.

I take a loaf of sliced bread and turn it into PB&Js. In 11 minutes, I can convert an entire loaf into sandwiches, wrap them, clean up, and stick them in the freezer.

It’s an easy concept. The frozen sandwiches thaw long before lunch time and help keep the rest of the lunch cool. I even turn the heels inside to use the whole loaf.

Pre-cut sheets of wax paper from Costco saves wrapping time, and I save resources by putting all the sandwiches back in the original bread bag before popping in the freezer.

Then each morning, all I have to do is grab a couple of sandwiches from the freezer. It doesn’t take much to finish assembling a school-day lunch, so my mornings are much less harried.

When I have ready-made lunch food, I don’t have to rely on store-bought foods or cafeteria lunches, so it saves me money too.

As we settle into another school year, I hope this trick might help you too.


 

Thanks, Eve! Last year I talked about how I simplify school lunches. Would anyone else like to share their tips too in the comments?

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15 comments

  • Rhoni December 30, 2013, 9:11 am

    Funny, my hubby showed me this trick when we were first married….only he does it with salad type sandwiches, such as chicken or tuna. Love it!

  • Debbie November 25, 2013, 9:11 pm

    Okay…so why have I not been doing this already?? Thank you for this…love it!

    • Amy November 26, 2013, 8:58 am

      Excellent — hope you get more time for doing more of what you love, Debbie.

      Amy

  • Samantha @ Digital Zen November 13, 2013, 1:55 pm

    This is genius, and I’m definitely going to try it! Long live PB&J.

  • Gina W. November 6, 2013, 4:04 pm

    Do the frozen sandwiches get soggy? I’d be afraid that would be the outcome. Any experience?

    • Eve November 6, 2013, 5:16 pm

      Hi Gina,

      The sandwiches don’t get soggy at all. Baked goods (like bread) actually benefit from being frozen. The process adds moisture so the bread doesn’t taste stale.

      Eve

  • Stephanie November 6, 2013, 11:34 am

    great idea! the rest of the lunch goes together pretty quickly so that will really streamline the process!

    • Amy November 6, 2013, 11:45 am

      Totally! Thanks for writing in, Stephanie.

  • Amy November 6, 2013, 11:26 am

    I do this same thing with sandwiches, too–make ahead and freeze. My kids like different sandwiches (one likes mustard, one doesn’t, one likes raspberry jam, one likes blueberry, etc.) so I mark each wrapped sandwich with the first initial of the child who likes that kind.

    This same make-ahead concept works with other things, too. I put chips, pretzels, or goldfish is single (reusable) containers and make enough for the week. I wrap and freeze small muffins or slices of banana bread, etc. Some vegetables, such as sugar snap peas, can be washed and put in small containers ahead of time and then kept in the refrigerator. In the mornings, we just grab one of this and one of that, add a piece of fruit, and we’re good to go. Fast and easy–and the older kids can pack their own lunchboxes.

    • Amy November 6, 2013, 11:31 am

      Hey Amy,

      What great little ideas! I never thought of pre-packaging snacks, but why not? By batching the tasks, you’re basically going through the motions once, instead of four or five times.

      p.s. Our kids are all over the map too in terms of mustard and mayo preferences. It almost requires a legend at picnics to figure out whose is whose!

      Amy

  • Jen @ Jen Spends November 6, 2013, 10:29 am

    Great idea! Making school lunch was fun for about a week. I only need to make one, but it still feels like a chore. It is a lot easier when I can just grab and go in the morning, so I try to make lunch the night before.

    • Amy November 6, 2013, 10:42 am

      Hi Jen,

      Totally agree about being thankful when I can get it done the night before. Sometimes I pack leftovers from dinner, like broccoli pasta, in a thermos. In that case, I need to heat it up in the morning, but it’s not much work and the kids love having a hot lunch.

      Amy

      • Jen @ Jen Spends November 6, 2013, 2:10 pm

        Dylan has been pestering me for “hot lunch” from the cafeteria, and wants macaroni and cheese in particular. Thank you for mentioning how you send them with a homemade hot lunch–I will have to try that.

        • Amy November 6, 2013, 2:15 pm

          Good, Jen! My kids seem to really like these home “hot lunches.” :-)

          Amy

          • brookst December 7, 2014, 3:13 pm

            Just a tip. I always pour boiled water in thermos first then pour it out and dry it really good. That way the thermos is already hot and warm and hopefully stays that way longer.