Think Inside the Bun: Non-Boring Sandwich Ideas for the Lunch Box

Jan 27, 2017

Sandwiches have made an easy, inexpensive, portable meal since back in the 18th century, when the 4th Earl of Sandwich requested his valet bring him some meat tucked between two slices of bread. Sandwiches can be found in cuisines around the world, made using virtually any combination of ingredients, so long as they’re contained between a form of doughy carb you can hold in your hand. 

There are the classics, of course — the PB & J, the grilled cheese, the ham and cheese, tuna melt, meatball sub and Montreal smoked meat. When assembling your own at home, whether for dinner or to pack up for lunch at work or school, there’s no need to limit yourself to sliced deli meats and cheese on sandwich bread. A couple slices, a bun, pita, naan or tortilla wrap can enclose just about anything — here are a few new sandwich ideas you may not have considered.

Egg Salad with a Mix-Ins

Everyone loves egg salad — hard boiled eggs, chopped and mashed with mayo, a dab of mustard, perhaps some finely chopped celery or gherkins. But if you have a couple extra slices of bacon to crumble in, they’ll elevate it to a whole new level. Spread it thickly on soft bread or buns so that the mixture doesn’t squish out the sides.

Butter Chicken

Try a thick stew or curry — leftover butter chicken is divine stuffed into a bun. If it’s too saucy, serve in with a knife and fork, sloppy Joe-style. Best of all, you don’t need much in the way of leftovers to make a sandwich.

A butter chicken sandwich with fresh coriander.

Trinidadian Doubles

A can of chickpeas can make an amazing sandwich, truly. Trinidadian doubles (this one is from the Calypso Roti Shop in Tofino, BC) are made with soft naan-type bread wrapped around curried chickpeas. To make your own, sauté a finely chopped onion in a skillet with some oil until they’re golden; add a couple crushed cloves of garlic, a drained can of chickpeas and a shake of curry powder or spoonful of paste. A handful of chopped cilantro is good too. Serve in soft naan bread with some hot sauce and cool yogurt, if you like.

Trinidadian doubles filled with chickpeas.

Coridander Chutney

If you haven’t had a coriander chutney sandwich, it’s surprisingly delicious! Spread fresh coriander chutney on buttered soft white bread, and that’s it. If you’re more of a traditionalist, add sliced or shredded roasted chicken too.

A bowl of creamy coriander chutney, and another shot of a slice of bread spread with the chutney.

Breakfast Sandwiches for Lunch

Breakfast sandwiches aren’t only for breakfast — crack an egg into a buttered ramekin, add some grated cheese if you like, and cook in the microwave for a minute, or until set. Transfer to a toasted English muffin or biscuit with a slice of cheese or ham or a couple slices of bacon. 

English muffins with eggs and bacon on top.

Grilled Cheese with a Twist

Grilled cheese sandwiches filled with mac and cheese and meatballs.

And if you are going grilled, consider adding extras along with your cheese — crumble in some bacon, spread some pesto on the inside or mayo spiked with sriracha on the outside, or pull apart that leftover short rib and tuck it in with old cheddar on sourdough for a grilled cheese sandwich you’ll never forget.

Article Author Julie Van Rosendaal
Julie Van Rosendaal

Read more from Julie here.

Julie Van Rosendaal is the author of six best-selling cookbooks (with a seventh due out this fall), the food editor of Parents Canada magazine and the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One. She is a recipe developer, TV personality, food stylist and writes about food for local, national and international publications. She is perhaps best known as the voice behind her popular food blog, Dinner with Julie, where she documents real life at home in Calgary with her husband and nine-year-old son. Connect on twitter @dinnerwithjulie.


Add New Comment

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.