Consider the humble PB&J. Not only is it the perfect mix of savory and sweet, but it's also the secret lunchtime weapon of parents everywhere. It couldn't be easier to assemble, and it's simple to customize based on the jam, jelly and nut butters your kid prefers. But it can get a little... uninspired after a time or 20 in your kids' lunch box.
In honor of the coming school year, we rounded up some simple tweaks to refresh this kid favorite. You might just find yourself stashing one in your own PackIt lunch bag.
Make Grown-Up Toast
What is it about an open-faced sandwich that makes a meal feel so freakin' fahncy? It's really as easy as layering a fruit, nut and special toppings. Yet somehow hipster restaurants can get away with charging $12 for this simple pleasure.
You, however, can assemble an inexpensive, Instagram-worthy fruit and nut butter toast at home with this recipe from Healthy Nibbles & Bits.
Once you've mastered that, try a few of our favorites below, from left to right:
- Banana, toasted coconut chips and peanut butter
- Hazelnut butter, blueberries and vanilla gluten-free granola
- Almond butter, strawberries, honey and shaved chocolate on top
Swap Bread For Something Unexpected
Who said you had to stick to plain old bread as your base? Crackers, crepes, biscuits, and tortillas are all delicious and surprising alternatives. For more dessert-like versions, try pound cake, scones or banana bread. Or how about the grandaddy of all swaps: PB&J waffles. Check out this recipe from Mox & Fodder. It's quite possibly the greatest idea since sliced bread.
Go Crazy With Creative Additions
PB&J are harmonious together, but you can always invite friends to this mouth party. Savory lovers will flip over a PB&J with bacon, either in strip or jam form. For some crunch, throw in crisped rice cereal, cornflakes or potato chips. Renown food writer Ruth Reichl swears by adding butter and salt to the mix. Even pickles make a shockingly good version—seriously!
Make It Interactive
Um, how adorable is this PB&J sushi? It takes two seconds longer to make than a regular PB&J but you know that your kids will be talking about it for ages. Here's a tutorial from A Bicycle Built For Two.
Another fun way to get your little ones involved in the assembly is to make PB&J pizzas. This great recipe from Super Healthy Kids will show you how.
Ditch The Sandwich Altogether
If you love the magical fruit and nut combo but are so over sandwiches, this PB&J smoothie from Kitchen Treaty is your new jam. Or try these peanut butter and jelly muffins from Minimalist Baker. They're vegan, gluten-free and packed with healthy oats. Major lunch win!
What's your favorite version of PB&J? Share in a comment below!