Sandwich inspiration (and my view on lunch meat)

Grilled Caprese sandwich with balsamic vinegar.
Grilled Caprese Sandwich with Balsamic Vinegar

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To be honest, I am not a huge lunch meat person so it was very easy for me to stop buying it on a regular basis. The main reason is because (especially after watching Food, Inc.) we made a decision to focus on eating locally raised meats. And have you ever seen someone slicing off pieces of deli meat at your local farmers’ market?

One benefit of this decision is reducing our overall meat consumption, which is better for our health and environment anyway. So this is the reason I now only buy sandwich meat on a rare occasion – once every month or two – and it’s organic when we I do!

With that being said, this change opened up a whole new window of opportunity when it came to sandwiches. But with anything, I can sometimes get in a rut.

So I recently asked my wonderful facebook community to share their most favorite sandwich combinations, which helped inspire this fresh list of sandwich ideas below. Please also feel free to leave your ideas in the comments at the bottom!

Cold Sandwiches / Wraps

  • Hummus with cheese, avocado and veggies (like carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, bell peppers or tomatoes)
  • Egg salad (variations include: curry or chopped green olives)
  • Egg salad BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato)
Egg sandwich on whole-wheat bread.
Egg Salad Sandwich
  • (Who doesn’t love) PB&J
  • Peanut butter and banana
  • Cream cheese and jelly
  • Sprouts, provolone, honey mustard and avocado
  • BLT with or without crabmeat
  • BLT with avocado and spicy mayonnaise on focaccia bread
  • Open faced with black bean hummus, roasted red bell peppers, and avocado
  • Brie cheese, thin slice of green apple, and homemade chicken salad with grapes and walnuts
  • Chicken, black bean dip, tomato and avocado with a little squeeze of lime
  • Open faced with tuna salad, melted provolone and a slice of tomato
  • Herbed cream cheese and cucumber
  • Pecan-raisin bread with granny smith apple, goat cheese and honey
  • Pimento cheese
  • Cheddar, tomato, cucumber, a little mayo, salt and pepper
  • Grilled chicken, baked apples and brie, fig jam and lettuce
  • Sliced cucumber, tomato, hard-boiled egg, mayo
  • Cream cheese on whole-wheat cinnamon raisin bread or banana bread
  • Hot / Grilled Sandwiches

    • Caprese (pictured above – great on bread or a pita)
    • Pimento cheese (yes…it is amazing served hot!)
    • Roasted veggies, pesto, and cheese
    • Grilled cheese with or without tomatoes (trick: sprinkle a tad bit of grated Parmesan just before the bread gets fully browned!)
    • Grilled swiss cheese and avocado
    • Grilled egg, cheese and tomato
    • Melted brie with thin sliced apple
    • Grilled veggie sandwich with garlic mayonnaise and feta
    • Mushroom, roasted bell pepper, goat cheese, and pesto panini

    [Entered into Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday]

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    104 thoughts on “Sandwich inspiration (and my view on lunch meat)”

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    1. If you’re not eating processed food, how do you explain the bacon? Am I missing something? The bacon you get from any store is most definitely a processed food.

      1. 100 Days of Real Food

        The bacon is uncured (and not seasoned) and from a local farm with humanely raised animals. One of our real food rules is that we can eat meat if it is local.

    2. Thank you, I’ve recently been looking for info approximately this topic for a while and yours is the best I have found out till now. However, what in regards to the conclusion? Are you positive in regards to the source?|What i do not understood is in reality how you’re not actually a lot more smartly-preferred than you might be right now. You are so intelligent.

    3. We buy gluten free bread from Sami’s bakery at It is very tasty as well as there other gluten free products. We have tried most of their products and have been very happy. To minimize shipping we order large quantities and freeze.

    4. Do you order from the farmer’s fresh market here in Charlotte? I get fresh eggs from them and I know they have lots of different varieties of goat cheese that I hear are really yummy! (I don’t care for goat cheese, so I haven’t tried it!)

      1. 100 Days of Real Food

        We frequent the Matthews Farmers’ Market, which is great for eggs, cheese, meats, veggies and all sorts of stuff!

      1. 100 Days of Real Food

        I just use regular whole-wheat bread (that I make or buy from local bakery – 5 ingredients) and it works great!

    5. You should really try tea sandwiches for meat options. They’re sort of like tuna salad but with shredded turkey or chicken. Curried chicken with slivered almonds is one of my favorite, but there are so many out there in the land of tea. =) This is a great post & I knew I wasn’t the only one who loves cream cheese with jam!

    6. a favorite sandwich of mine is open faced, on whole wheat with a wedge of laughing cow garlic and herb, sliced tomato and avocado with salt and pepper… it’s so good and great for a snack even.

    7. Love this! I have a question about your consumption of raw milk. I live in GA and raw milk is illegal to sell for the consumption of humans…but farms can sell it when it is labeled “for consumption of pets.” I can get a gallon for $7, is that reasonable? And, did it take your girls a while to adjust to the difference in taste/texture?

      Thank you so much for leading the way in this initiative..your family rocks!

      1. 100 Days of Real Food

        Raw milk is illegal (for human consumption) here in North Carolina as well so we drink the least processed milk we can get here, which is non-homogenized whole milk from a farm in Virginia. I hope that helps and thanks for your nice comment!

      2. Misty, I’m in MO and we get raw milk delivered for $7. a gallon so I don’t think that price is unreasonable. Our granddaughter won’t drink it, but she will no longer drink the store-bought 2% that her parents buy either. She’s very very picky about what she eats, which is a constant frustration for us {ie: none of it is even remotely healthy} but if your kids aren’t super picky I doubt it will be a prob. You might want to cut the first gallon with what they are used to then reduce the prev milk product until it’s no longer present in what they drink.

    8. Thanks for the awesome list! My daughter’s favorite is cream cheese and sliced strawberries-I’m kind of partial to it as well!

    9. One of my favorite sandwiches in the world is cucumber, sprouts and veggie cream cheese on whole wheat or any hearty bread.

    10. Thank you so much for these ideas! I pack my husband a sandwich in his lunch because he has to be able to eat on the move (sad but true), so he can’t have leftovers that need to be heated up. These ideas are wonderful! We are trying to remove dairy from his diet for inflammation, so that part hasn’t been as hard with sandwiches, but also trying to remove wheat, which is so hard! I bought brown rice bread at TJs and he hated it, I tried it and hated it too and I am not picky! I’m going to try to make some gluten free homemade bread, but would love to someday perfect whole wheat bread as well-saw your recipe, but unfortunately I don’t have a bread machine. :( I’m also thinking about taking some of these ideas and packing them with gluten free crackers.

      1. Lauren, I am eating a gluten free diet and it is hard to find decent bread. The best brands I have found are either Udi’s or Rudi’s whole grain breads. they are quite good especially toasted!

    11. Two suggestions: Smucker’s natural crunchy peanut butter and any locally produced honey
      Grilled cheese and onion
      And of course, do them on some kind whole grain bread: wheat, oat, or multi-grain.

    12. My favorite sandwich is grilled tuna cheese melt with homemade tomato soup. Tuna + mayo + cheese + wheat bread = Good!

    13. Chicken salad with pesto and tomatoes (instead of mayo). Deliciousness on toasted bread or in pepper cups (red, green or yellow).

    14. OK I know better but I choose to do whats wrong! I am reading over this and remebering all the things I have done in the past…putting olive oil in the firdge to allow it to become a spread…(seasoned of course) I wanted to share my favorite sandwich…I am not able t oeat lunch meat because of the migraines I get…so instead of lunch meat I have replaced it with either mushrooms or avacados…I have not been able to find the mushrooms since we have moved…but they are pickled with peppers and they give me the texture of meat and the tangy vinegar flavor that I love… :D

    15. I love all these ideas, not much of a lunch meat eater here. Thanks everyone for sending them in and can’t wait to try them.

    16. We’ve recently started buying free-range organic whole turkey breasts and roasting them in the oven – just a bit of olive oil or butter, cracked pepper and salt, and it makes enough sandwich meat (for 2 of us) to last awhile, as we freeze half. Works great for us, tastes great too (today’s sandwich was turkey, smashed avocado & sliced tomatoes)! You may have luck finding a local farmer who raises turkey, but I’m sure chicken would also work well, if its accessible to you! Thanks for your blog! :)

    17. What a fantastic list! You’ve got some rockin facebook fans! Thanks. I’m going to print this and refer to it once school lunch season starts.

    18. We stopped buying lunch meat when we tried to control my husband’s high blood pressure through diet. Even though we were eating “healthy”, if not local, at the time, there was still a lot of high sodium foods we could cut out, deli meat being one.

      I’m with Mary above who cooks extra meat and slices it thin for sandwiches. I have an idea for Stacey at Feeding My Tribe -> I started cooking my “lunch meat” in my crockpot. Drop in a roast, or a chicken breast, let it cook while you are at work, cool and slice.

    19. Bravo! Lunchmeat stymies people and you have a whole host of suggestions. I just did a blog post on lunches and I will add your link in the comments. Stopped over from Fight Back Friday.

    20. I just ate the best sandwich yesterday… It was a crepe w/ chicken, tomatoes, mozarella cheese and pesto… I’ve always thought of crepes as a sweet treat, but this was the best sandwich I have ever eaten!

    21. I never was much of a sandwich person, mostly because I can’t stand mayo, and lunchmeats have always been fairly ick to me. However, ever since I discovered hummus, I’ve been a sandwich eating fiend! One of my favorite sandwiches as of late was some garlic hummus, with roasted green beans and mushrooms. It was really, really good. I would definitely reccomend something like that, especially if you’re trying to ease your way out of the overly processed sandwich ingredients.

    22. My mom and I have a new favorite sandwich! Avocado reuben…rye bread, mustard, homemade thousand island (so easy, mayo, ketchup, relish, chopped olives) avocado slices and sauerkraut – grilled. Cannot tell you how good this is! I am hooked!!

    23. Applegate Farms makes lunch meat slices that are supposedly from family farms, raised cruelty-free…It’s expensive, but might do in a pinch for someone who can’t give up their ham sandwiches! Also, a favorite of mine… pita or flatbread with hummus and sliced apple, then topped with cheese and toasted in the oven.

    24. We LOVE hummus sandwiches here at our house. We usually use hummus, seasonal veggies and feta cheese. YUM. Also, have you ever had grilled PB & J? My husband introduced me to that…it’s wonderful!

    25. We eat lots of PB & J around here, and I haven’t cut deli meat out of our lives completely, but I have started cooking much larger cuts of meat (turkey breast, roasts, ham, etc.) or more chicken breasts than my husband and I would eat for dinner, then I use my slicing knife to cut the leftovers into very thin slices, which I freeze and keep in a bag to pull out what I need each night. Much tastier and much healthier than storebought!

    26. Joyce @ Jranola Joyce

      That sandwich looks awesome!
      I love anything with balsamic :)
      I love curried veggies, so I roast them and then slather on some hummus on complete protein bread, throw on the veggies and eat!
      The recipe is on my blog!
      I use liquid aminos for the veggies! :)

    27. We have been buying the nitrate-free luncheon meat such as Hormel’s Natural Choice. I wish we could afford to get the Applegate Farms brand, but we have four kids to feed so their prices are regrettably not in our budget. Either way, there is a lot of sodium in lunch meat, so we limit the amount the kids eat of it. We make the kids a lot of egg salad sandwiches for their lunchboxes.

      By the way, I have gotten locally-produced nitrate-free salami from the local food Co-op (, but I have not seen them selling meat or cheese at the farmer’s market so I guess it is not allowed here in Oklahoma.

      Yes, ideally, I would roast my own turkey breasts and hams and then slice them thin and use that for sandwiches and I think those would be much tastier. But, I haven’t been able to coordinate my life to do that yet.

      1. I’m with you on the Hormel nitrate-free. I have a son who LOVES ham and cheese omelets (we raise layer chickens). And a daughter who gets nitrate-sensitivity migraines but LOVES turkey sandwiches. It’s a little compromise that’s totally worth it for us, especially come school lunch time since I’m packing for all 5 of us. Oy!

    28. Wish I could partake, but I’m just starting a primal diet lifestyle, which entails getting rid of grains. I wouldn’t do it otherwise, but I have PCOS so doing whatever I can to eliminate the culprit cause.

    29. There is a world of other nut butters to explore – cashew is out of this world! Also, try almond butter and I know Lisa posted about using sunflower seed butter since PB is not allowed at her daughter’s school. A mix of hazelnuts and almonds is tasty, too.

    30. What do you suggest as a replacement for a boy who LOVES ham sandwiches? My son absolutely LOVES, LOVES, LOVES ham and cheese. He won’t eat PB&J, and I am trying to stop buying lunch meat. He does not like hummus, or avocado, or any other healthy sandwich replacement. LOL. Ideas?

      1. My daughter loves ham. She was eating it at 7 or 8 months old & used to have it several times a week (before I discovered real food & watched food inc). She now almost 7 &, in fairness, she has done very little complaining over the last year & a half about all the food she could no longer have. Ham was an issue though. She really really loves it & cried when I explained to her why it was bad for her. I have since discovered that parma ham is just ham & salt so it is a “special” treat that she can have every couple of weeks.

    31. Lisa, do you make your own mayo? I gave it up because I haven’t been able to find commercial mayo with 5 ingredients or fewer. Also, do you make your own pimiento cheese? With one exception, the commercial versions I’ve seen are loaded with fake food ingredients. The exception was made with “normal” ingredients that you would have in your own kitchen but it tasted absolutely awful.

        1. Mayo is super easy to make!!! Mix 4 egg yolks,1 T. vinegar, dash of sea salt and stream in 1/4 c good olive oil. It is soooo yummy and healthy.

        2. 100 Days of Real Food

          I am just on the fence about feeding my kids raw eggs…that’s the problem. Sometimes it is hard to think differently from what you’ve been taught your whole life!

    32. Because my children have severe food allergies to (collectively) eggs, soy, dairy and nuts and food sensitivities to nitrates and other additives/preservatives and artificial colors/flavors it is extremely hard to pack a school lunch! At home, I tend to focus our meals around meat (plain, no sauces, no seasonings, no breading), fruit and raw veggies. But lunches away from home are more difficult to plan with all the dietary restrictions (especially since the kiddos won’t eat “normal” sandwiches). These ideas may help break them out of the nitrate-free hot dog rut! Thanks so much for the suggestions!

    33. These look wonderful…we have significantly reduced our lunch meat consumption, but I would like to end it totally and with this list we may be able to do just that! Thanks!!