School Lunches: Sandwich Bread

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Okay, it is time to discuss what healthy foods we can put in our kids’ school lunches: non-GMO, organic, tasty and filling. I have two to prepare each school day, and it can be a challenge. The school lunches that the kids can buy are low in calories, full of chemicals and GMOs, and just not satisfying to my boys at all, especially the high schooler. He will skip lunch instead of buying one of his school’s lunch offerings. This post will be about the bread for homemade, hearty and delicious sandwiches, the standard entree for school lunches.

Curried chicken sandwich with provolone cheese, onions, baby lettuce and homemade whole grain mustard

Curried chicken sandwich with provolone cheese, onions, baby lettuce and homemade whole grain mustard on a whole wheat sandwich roll

Bread

I occasionally buy organic bread but most of the time I make the bread used in school lunches. There are a lot of choices: bread machine, baguette, Italian, regular loaf, flat bread, tortillas, and rolls. I have actually started making sandwich rolls that are the new favorite around here. No slicing a loaf (which I am terrible at doing), no strangely shaped sandwiches due to bread machine bread (which makes oversized loaves that are impractical for sandwiches), and they are just the right size for kids’ hands.

For step-by-step instructions on making bread by hand I created a very long, photo-driven tutorial that I have not moved to this blog yet: The Baking of the Bread.

Typically, I make bread dough in the bread machine, let it work through to the end of the first rising and then remove it for shaping and second rising. This works perfectly and saves me time (which I have a lot less of since starting school). But if you have a few hours, handmade bread is amazingly rewarding to make. And everyone should know how to make good bread by hand without the use of machines.

When I made bread by hand I made two 1-pound loaves and typically baked them in a 9×13-inch glass baking dish. This resulted in a great size for making school lunch sandwiches, one for my 12-year-old and two for my 16-year-old.

2 1-lb loaves baked in 9x13-inch glass baking dish

2 1-lb loaves baked in 9×13-inch glass baking dish

1-lb loaf sliced

1-lb loaf sliced

I slice my bread, bag 4 small or 2 large slices in zipped sandwich bags, place in a larger bag and freeze.

When I make dough in my bread machine I make a 4-cup flour recipe that results in a slightly larger loaf. You can use my Chia Bread Recipe (chia seeds and coconut oil are optional — you can use olive oil if you prefer).

Beautiful loaf of chia bread

Beautiful loaf of chia bread

For sandwich rolls I divide the dough into 12 pieces, make into circles, flatten and allow to rise (I used a 9×13-inch glass baking dish for 8 and a round cake pan for the other 4) about 15 minutes or until doubled in size. For a lighter, softer crust I bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F and for a brown, slightly crispier crust I bake at 400 degrees F for about 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before bagging.

Homemade whole wheat sandwich rolls

Homemade whole wheat sandwich rolls

Again, I bag two of the rolls in each zipped sandwich bag, place the smaller bags in a larger bag and freeze (always double bag anything you put in the freezer whether it be meat, bread or veggies). I can pull out bagged bread and rolls as needed either the night before or in the mornings. If in the morning, I defrost the rolls by placing in the toaster oven on the lowest setting and then leaving them in after the timer goes off. Within 10 minutes the rolls should be defrosted, or enough to slice.

A dozen sandwich rolls double bagged and ready to go in the freezer

A dozen sandwich rolls double bagged and ready to go in the freezer

Next I will discuss what we put on those sandwiches, and hope to also create a flat bread post soon. Stay tuned . . .

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