Simple alternatives to sandwiches
Often in the summer my wife or I will take our two small children (ages 2 and 4) out for the day, places like the zoo, the park, or other kid friendly spots around town. We generally try to avoid buying lunch (usually expensive, unhealthy, and not particularly tasty), but I'd like to start moving beyond the same old sandwiches that we always bring.
I'm looking for something easy to throw together based on simple ingredients and is good cold.
Any suggestions? (kid-tested would be great, but ours aren't too picky)
How about things like couscous salad with chicken?
Or a cold orzo salad with shrimp?
Cold fried chicken? (one of my favorites)
I also love wraps with cold seasoned chicken breasts, lettuce, taboulleh (sp?) and hummous. (I know, goes along your sandwich line)
on our last picnic, my 18 month old and husband liked pita bread, tzaziki (made with drained yogurt), cucumber sticks, salmon cakes fried up that morning. biscuits and meats (cold, roast chicken) and cheese ... too much like a sandwich? cold pasta salads go down well too.
My DD wouldn't eat sandwiches at all when she was little, so I would cut up some summer sausage, or thick ham, in cracker size bites, along with cheese. Served with triscuits, or wheat thins, whatever crackers they like. I also made celery and carrot sticks, and stuck black olives on them. That with some sliced fruit, like apples or pears, or segments of oranges. We called it her "snack lunch."
my mom used to make us "walking salads", i.e. a cored-out apple stuffed with peanut butter and raisins (there was another version with cheese and olive filling in a green apple, but I can't imagine a kid eating that even though I always loved them). Might be a little hard for a two y/o to eat, I don't know.
This might violate the "easy to throw together" condition, but if it's not too hot to use the oven a big batch of calzones can be made ahead and frozen (maybe as extras from one night's dinner?) They can thaw during the morning's activities and be eaten at room temp. at lunch time. Not all that different from a sandwich as far as the ingredients go, but it seems different at least.
There have been a number of posts on bento box lunches recently. You might want to do a search and check out some of their suggestions. Lots of things that would adapt to little fingers and picnic requirements.
Greek pasta salad with roasted red pepper vinaigrette
cold roasted chicken with panzanella salad
Spanish tapas lunch with bread, sausage, cheeses, olives, etc.
expanding your sandwich repetoire internationally to include gyros, rotis and shawarmas.
getting creative beyond the usual raw veggies. For example, fresh baby cucumbers marinated in vinegar overnight or radishes with a sprinkle of kosher salt.