Speedy School Lunches and Sealing Sandwiches

I absolutely HATE making lunches. I'm not sure why? Maybe because I'm not a morning person and I am doing well to actually wake up?

I have been working SO HARD this school year to up my productivity by waking up early, but it still is the hardest thing I do all day. I am going to post soon about some ways I have learned to help. But for now let's tackle lunches.

Having worked in an elementary school for five years I saw a lot of school lunches. I also ate a lot of those lunches, which is something I'm not proud of. We decided when Luke started Kindergarten this year that he would be allowed to buy lunch once a week. I will say we have squeezed that to twice a week on some of the crazy weeks. Cause' goodness knows it makes my mornings run so much more smoothly.

I even tried packing lunches at night (I'm a night owl). But it was still something I dreaded. One thing that made life easier was to prepack all snacky foods. So I typically buy a big bag of goldfish, or pretzels or whatever I get that's a good price (Boxed) and separate them into ziploc baggies. I'm sure I could save the earth and use something more eco friendly but I'm trying to make my life easier, remember?

I try to keep 4-5 different varieties of "healthier" stuff (veggie chips, popcorn, pretzels, etc.) for easy grab and go. We also eat from these bins for after school snack but many days Luke actually prefers a green pepper or apple over packaged snacks anyways. And maybe one day I'll label these bins? I laminated labels at the beginning of the school year but I couldn't get them to stick! Annoying.

I start by shopping at my favorite discount bakery. I make a trip about once a month and buy enough bread for the whole month. I love that I can get the "expensive" bread for way cheap. Like 99cents a loaf cheap. Whole wheat, with no sugar added. Win! The prices are so low because they are approaching their expiration date. I typically throw the extra loaves in the freezer and pull them out as needed. In the 2 years I have shopped there, I have only had 2 loaves mold. One loaf typically lasts us once a week.

Not to insult your intelligence, but you basically make a sandwich with whatever you like. My kids have such an expansive palette so we do PB&J (*eyeroll*).
 I found that by putting the peanut butter on both sides of the bread, the jelly doesn't make the bread soggy.
And small dollops of jelly in the middle are easier to seal than spreading it over the whole sandwich. 

I try to go from edge to edge even though the crust will be cut off.

Enter the sandwich sealer. This one is less than $10 on Amazon. 

Then simply match a jelly piece to a peanut butter piece, match up the sandwich sealer to the edges and push! The directions said to push on white first, then blue!

{weird alien looking hand}
The sealer perfectly seals the edges so the peanut butter and jelly stay inside. I read that you can use a cookie cutter for this, but I'm just not sure a cookie cutter would seal the edges? Cut through the layers- definitely. The sealer was a small price to pay for my ease. Also in my research I found that white bread seals better than wheat (I'm guessing because it's more stretchy?), but this wheat did great! A few of the pieces toward the end of the loaf kept some of the crust- but my kids actually don't mind the crust. 

Also I timed myself to see just how long this process takes. One loaf of bread had 18 pieces (20 if you count the ends). 18 pieces = 9 sandwiches. I could make and cut all 9 sandwiches in 9 minutes. I did 5 loaves on this haul which means that 45 sandwiches took me 45 minutes. I'm pretty sure it takes me longer than a minute in the morning to make a pb&j. Not to mention the dirty dishes and crumbs on the counter. We have a giant chest freezer in the garage where I can store the extra sandwiches.
If I estimate correctly 45 sandwiches will last us approximately 7-9 weeks if Luke eats 4 a week and Emmie eats 1-2. I'm sure we'll mix up Luke's lunch a bit, but the boy only like a few things. And he's fine having the same thing over and over. 

To make all 45 sandwiches it took 1 jar of peanut butter ($5), less than half a jar of jelly ($2) and five loaves ($5). So for around 27 cents a sandwich that is MAJOR savings. The best price I found of uncrustables online was $13 for 18 sandwiches which is 72 cents a sandwich. So if you take the difference PER sandwich that's over $20 saved just from doing it yourself! Not bad!

You can just as easily adjust this to make different types of sandwiches with different butters/jellies! 
I actually timed myself one morning this week. I made 2 lunches in UNDER a minute. I grabbed 2 sandwiches from the freezer (no need to thaw since they thaw in the lunch bag), 2 small bottles of water, 2 organic applesauce packs, and 2 snack items. Less than a minute? I can do that!

I am thrilled this with lunch set up! I asked him the other day how his lunch tasted and I got 2 big thumbs up. I asked all the annoying mom questions- Was the sandwich frozen? Did it thaw? Was is mushy? Did it actually taste good? And he assured me it was GREAT! #momwin


  1. I'm glad you have found a way to make your mornings easier. With your schedule, any times savers are welcome I'm sure!