Sandwiches are a great first food to teach kids to make on their own in the kitchen. Teaching kids to prepare their own food is as important as teaching them life skills like keeping a budget and taking showers!
When kids learn to prepare food, they learn more than how to make a healthy meal.
- Their confidence grows, as they learn to prepare different things.
- It gives them a sense of independence.
- It teaches them to make healthy choices within certain parameters.
- It reinforces the source of their food, and that it doesn’t have to “come from a box”.
- It teaches them that it is actually faster to prepare their own meal than it is to go through a drive through.
I have complete confidence that when my kids get to college, they won’t have to rely on vending machines for sustenance. They’ve been making their own food, starting with sandwiches since at least 4 years old.
So, how do we teach them? We give them choices, and help them learn what delicious combinations could include.
Step 1: Choose a Grain
The first step in sandwich making is to choose the vehicle that will carry the insides. This generally is a grain. We understand other things can be used to wrap up the insides, like a lettuce leave, but then it really isn’t a sandwich anymore. So, for our purposes today, we’re leaving this to be a grain. Some of our choices for the grains include:
- pita pockets
- English Muffins
- French bread
- Muffins (yes! even muffins. We’ve cut one in half before to be filled here)
Step 2: Choose a Spread
A spread can make the sandwich tasty and filling. You can choose a spread that isn’t just empty calories by choosing one with protein like
- peanut butter (how to make homemade peanut butter)
- Almond butter (gourmet almond butter recipe here)
- sun-butter (recipe for our homemade cinnamon sunbutter here)
- Pecan butter (recipe here)
- Traditional hummus,
- Lemon hummus
- Pizza hummus
- Chocolate hummus
- Pumpkin Hummus
- Green hummus
- Pea hummus
- soft cheese.
Step 3: Choose a Veggie or Fruit
Your spread is going to determine your fruit or veggie. A nut butter spread goes nicely with fruit like
- jam (we like no-sugar added like All-Fruit, or you can make your own!
- apple slices
- banana slices
A hummus, cheese spread or condiment goes nicely with veggies such as
Step 4: Choose a Protein
- Deli Meat (without sulfates or sulfites)
- Nut Butter
The chart below is printable!! Click to get it and put it on a pantry or cupboard door as a reminder!
So, are you ready to turn your kids lose in the kitchen? I promise this will be rewarding to watch them jump to the task when you ask them to make their own sandwiches!
Cheddar Apple Sandwich on Whole Wheat Bread
For this one we used cheddar cheese and apple slices! You can also grill it, but it isn’t necessary!
Peanut Butter and Strawberries
Delicious combination of nut butter with fruit! Super easy for the kids, and they can learn to use a knife here to slice the soft strawberries.
Turkey Avocado and Lettuce
Simple and delicious! We like turkey, avocado, and lettuce, with either condiments spread or a spread of hummus or soft cheese like Laughing Cow Cheese.
Toasted Egg and Bagel Sandwich
Don’t hesitate to include eggs with your sandwiches! They are a great source of protein and goes so nicely with tomatoes and avocado!
Spinach Waffle Sandwich
I wanted to include this one, because kids love to make them, waffle sandwiches! This healthier version of a grilled cheese was made in a waffle iron! This is a great choice when you don’t have a panini maker, but also don’t want to use the stove yet.
So, print the chart and put it on your fridge! If you haven’t started already, start today and make sandwiches with your kids a few times. Then, see what they can come up with on their own!
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I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie