Let’s face it – even if your kids don’t mind the “crust” of the bread…eating a sandwich without the crust is sometimes just a little more fun. My kids do currently eat the crust at our house so homemade “Uncrustables” are not something I plan on doing every day, but will I do it on occasion just to switch things up? Absolutely. One complaint from blog readers about making these sandwiches without the crust though is that they hate to waste food. So in addition to showing you how to make [and freeze] your own homemade “Uncrustables” I’ve got some solutions for those bread ends as well.
First of all, why make your own “Uncrustables?” Three main reasons…
- You can control the ingredients (see “Exhibit A” below).
- It (can be) cheaper.
- I am not going to lie…they are NICE to have on hand on those nights (or mornings) when you have no clue what to pack for school lunch! Or for when you just don’t have any fresh bread in the house. It happens to the best of us.
What I look for in “real” bread, peanut butter and jelly…
- Bread: I prefer 100% whole-wheat bread made with only 5 or 6 ingredients. This can be hard to find at a supermarket so instead look into your local bakeries or making your own (in the oven or in a bread machine).
- Peanut Butter: It only takes one ingredient to make peanut butter…peanuts. Anything else (salt, sugar, oil, etc.) is to be considered an “additive.”
- Jelly: I suppose I technically buy “jam” not jelly. I look for varieties that are organic, have the fruit listed as the first ingredient (as opposed to the sweetener), and that are sweetened with fruit juice as opposed to refined sugar. I either make my own or by Crofter’s brand.
How to Make and Freeze Homemade “Uncrustables”
So yes, I do recommend a special little “tool” for making these at home (as it turns out Wonder Bread is good for something), but you can certainly make them without this thing by cutting with a knife and then pinching the edges together with your fingers. It isn’t quite as easy or “pretty” because I tried it myself – but it will certainly work if you don’t want to spring the $4+ for yet another kitchen gadget.
Once you have that figured out it is time to get started.
- First of all, make the sandwich. Some options…
- Go with the classic PB&J.
- Use sunflower seed butter or cream cheese if you want/need to go nut-free.
- Use a different nut butter like almond butter if you prefer.
- Skip the jelly and make a peanut butter and honey sandwich instead…something my daughters really enjoy.
Tip: Don’t spread the filling all the way to the edge…unless you like peanut butter-flavored breadcrumbs or croutons (see below for uses for the crusts).
- Second, seal it together…it’s so easy even a child can do it. :)
- Third, go around the edge of the cutting/sealing tool with a knife just to double-check that the crusts were cut all the way off. Be sure to look cute while you do it.
- Last, wrap the finished sandwiches in foil (or small baggies) and transfer them to a labeled, freezer-safe container or bag. Put the crusts in their own labeled container/bag as well. And voila! That is all there is to it. (Note: You could also freeze the sandwiches in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet for a few hours before transferring them to a bag/container – if you prefer to skip the foil.)
3 Uses For the Crust (no need to waste!)
I personally think it’s easiest to just freeze the crusts right away. Then there is no pressure to do something creative with them immediately! So as mentioned above, right after making the sandwiches just throw them all together in a big Ziplock bag or other freezer-safe container and save them for a rainy day. Then when you have time to do something with those crusts just pull them out, defrost them at room temperature for a few hours, and make one of the following:
Grind up the bread ends in a food processor until crumbly. Spread in one even layer on a baking sheet and bake for at 300 degrees F for 20 – 22 minutes or until golden brown. It is recommended to stir the bread crumbs once or twice while baking to ensure even doneness.
- Homemade Croutons.
Chop the bread crusts into little cubes. Mix them together with just enough olive oil to coat and some spices to taste (we like Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt). Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown, about 15 – 18 minutes.
- Stuffing or Bread Pudding.
Use your bread ends in your favorite holiday stuffing dish or bread pudding dessert recipe – yum!
Please feel free to share your ideas for bread ends/crusts in the comments below. I hope your little ones enjoy these in their lunch. I know you will feel good about sending them :)