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Is there any meal more convenient than a sandwich? It’s the ultimate portable snack: you don’t need a plate or cutlery, and it’s satisfying, inexpensive and easy to make. Anyone (even a small child) can slap together a sandwich in minutes, and there are countless different variations on a single theme: two slices of bread with a filling between them.

It’s no wonder then that sandwiches are among the world’s most popular fast foods, and a staple in lunch boxes on every continent. If you’re looking for new ideas for sandwiches for your own lunches, or for popping into the kids’ lunch boxes, read on!

The history of sandwiches

The modern sandwich is named after John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, an 18th Century aristocrat who is said to have been a habitual gambler. The story goes that during a marathon game of poker, the Earl could not be bothered to get up from the card table to eat his dinner, so he asked his servants to bring him meat between two slices of bread.   However, the Earl did not ‘invent’ the sandwich – over the centuries, many other older cultures around the world have used bread to enclose or wrap other foods.  Middle Eastern and North African flat breads, for example, were used for scooping up food, and in Medieval times, thick slices of bread (called trenchers) were used instead of plates.

Types of sandwiches

Although a classic modern sandwich is made with two slices of bread, the definition of a sandwich has expanded to include fillings enclosed in many other types of bread, including rolls, wraps, flatbreads and pita breads.  An open-face sandwich consists of a single slice of bread with the ‘filling’ on top. Double-decker sandwiches (such as Dagwood or Club sandwiches) use three or more slices of bread and multiple fillings.

Sandwiches for kids

When making sandwiches for school lunch boxes, it’s best to keep the fillings simple. Choose brown or wholewheat bread over white bread, and fill the sandwiches with protein-rich foods, such as cheese, tuna, pilchards, chicken, ham and eggs.  Add some fresh, crunchy ingredients like cucumber, lettuce or tomatoes, and you have a balanced meal!

Some kids can be daunted by big sandwiches, so you might be able to tempt them to empty their lunch boxes by cutting off the crusts, and slicing the sandwich into small triangles, or interesting shapes – try using a cookie cutter!  Here are some ideas for fillings:

  • Shredded roast chicken or tuna mixed with Hellmann’s mayonnaise. Add a squeeze of lemon juice for extra flavour.
  • Mashed boiled eggs with mayonnaise
  • Mashed sardines or pilchards with lemon juice
  • Left-over savoury mince with grated cheese
  • Cold sliced beef or chicken meatballs with shredded lettuce
  • Avocado and cream cheese
  • Hummus and cucumber
  • Sliced ham and coleslaw
  • Chicken or pork schnitzels and avocado
  • Corned beef, cheese and tomato
  • Peanut butter and thinly sliced apples
  • Mashed bananas and honey

Sandwiches for grown-ups

The sky’s the limit when it comes to sophisticated sandwiches for grown-up palates! A really good sandwich is all about contrasts in flavour and texture: try combining soft ingredients (such as avocado or cream cheese) with crunchy ones (gherkins, cucumber or lettuce) and strong, salty ingredients (such as cheese or ham) with sweeter ones (chutney or sweet chilli sauce).

You won’t go wrong if you use classic, time-tested combinations that always work together: chicken and lemon, roast beef and horseradish, ham and mustard, eggs and bacon, cheese and onion, tomatoes and basil, and so on.

Interesting breads can also take sandwiches to a new level. Try rye bread, sourdough bread, multi-grain bread or ciabatta bread, or choose a pita bread or tortilla wrap.

Try some of our delicious sandwich recipes!

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