The following is a weekly feature brought to us by Sumiko from Near to Nothing. I’ve asked her to share tips and tricks (and recipes!) that show us ways to replace the items we’d typically buy canned or frozen from scratch at home for less! You’ll find a new From Our Pantry post each Monday.
Last week I posted my tips and strategies to streamline school lunch preparation and save money. I also included a list of suggested items to make for lunches. I’d like to share two of those with you this week: PB&J and grilled cheese. Both of these can be made in large batches ahead of time and frozen.
While it is faster and easier to make and freeze regular PB&J and grilled cheese, most kids prefer crustless sandwiches such as Uncrustables. They are really convenient, but that convenience comes at a price. When I started making my own crustless sandwiches about a year-and-a-half ago, I estimated that it cost me $0.25 per sandwich. At that time, I priced them at $0.62 each at the store.
I use Pampered Chef’s Cut-N-Seal and absolutely love it. You can find it on their website for $9.50. That might sound pricey for a cutter, but considering I’m saving about $0.37 per sandwich, it has definitely paid for itself! A note about the size—I have two older cutters, a 3-inch and a 4-inch. The 3-inch is too small (pictured) and the 4-inch is just slightly too big. Pampered Chef now only caries one that is 3½ inches—perfect bread size.
One thing that will really affect how your crustless sandwiches turn out is what type of bread you use. It needs to be soft so it will crimp together and not tear. Unfortunately, that means a lot of whole grain breads don’t work so well. I’ve tried a few different varieties and have found that Sara Lee’s Soft and Smooth Plus 100% Whole Wheat Made with DHA Omega-3 seals and tastes the best (it also has the longest name).
Once you have a cutter, bread, peanut butter, and jelly (or honey!), there are only six easy steps to homemade crustless sandwiches!
Homemade Crustless PB&J
Step 1: Spread two slices of bread with peanut butter—putting peanut butter on both sides will keep the jelly from making the bread soggy.
Step 2: Spread jelly on top of peanut butter on one side; put two halves together.
Step 3: Press outer edges of Cut-N-Seal into sandwich to cut off excess.
Step 4: Press down crimper to seal edges.
Step 5: Remove crustless sandwich from middle of bread.
Step 6: Wrap sandwich in plastic wrap, place in gallon zip-top bag, and store in freezer. In the morning, I simply pull one out of the freezer and put it in my daughter’s lunch box. By lunch time, it has thawed and is ready to eat!
You can also make crustless grilled cheese! These are great if your kids’ school has a nut-free policy. I prefer these reheated in the toaster oven, but my kids gobble them down even when they are not heated, making them great even if your kids cannot use the microwave at school. Taken out of the freezer in the morning or night before, they will be thawed by lunch time.
Sliced American, the cheese of classic grilled cheese sandwiches, is too large to fit into the cutter. However, if the corners are folded in, it’s a perfect fit! Of course, you could substitute whatever shredded cheese you like.
Homemade Crustless Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Step 1: Heat skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
Step 2: Fold corners of each slice of cheese to middle and place in center of bread. Top each with second slice of bread.
Step 3: Cut and seal with sandwich cutter.
Step 4: Butter tops of sandwiches. Butter bottoms and immediately place in pan, top down.
Step 5: Flip when top is browned; continue to cook until bottom is browned. Cool completely on wire rack.
Step 6: Wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap and store in zip-top bag in freezer.
Whether I’m making PB&J or grilled cheese, I usually make one or two loaves-worth at a time. And don’t throw all those scraps away!! Save them for croutons or breadcrumbs.