Summer is for Picnic Sandwiches: How You Can Make Yours Healthier

Maddie Parker
Published Mar 14, 2024



Summer is here, prompting many trips to the beach, camping adventures, and other activities where you will want to bring along a picnic. Sandwiches are a natural choice for your picnic basket because of their ease and portability. However, these choices can often be laden with fat, calories, and other nutritional pitfalls. The good news is that you can transform your sandwich into a good nutritional choice with just a few tweaks. Here are a few tips to help you to make a healthier sandwich.
 

Go Smaller



One of the easiest ways to limit the fat and calories in your sandwich is to simply pare down the portion size. It is easy to be tempted by the traditional foot-long sub sandwiches offered at many fast food restaurants. However, this size of a sandwich is excessive for the caloric needs of most individuals. Try cutting down the size of your sandwich and supplementing it with a piece of fruit or a small salad if you are still hungry.
 

Choose Natural Meats



The meat in your sandwich is often loaded with significant amounts of sodium and other chemicals that can be detrimental to your health when consumed in large quantities. Choosing natural meats will ensure that your sandwich is not full of nitrates and other additives. You will likely find healthier options when buying freshly sliced meats directly from the deli counter versus packaged products.

The type of meat that you choose will also influence the number of calories in the sandwich. For instance, grilled chicken is typically less high in calories than salami. Other good choices include canned tuna made without the heavy mayo. Or go with mashed chickpeas and chopped celery tossed with a bit of olive oil mayo and lemon juice for a vegetarian alternative to the classic chicken or tuna salad sandwich. The possibilities are endless.
 

Pay Attention to the Bread



The bread that you choose to hold all of your sandwich fillings together will have a significant impact on the overall nutritional value. The obvious choice is to go with a whole grain option over a processed white bread. Thinner bread products will naturally offer less calories than their thick and hefty options.

You can also think outside of the box and go with something other than bread. Fun choices include whole wheat tortillas, English muffins, pita bread, or lettuce wraps. Not only are these often healthier choices but they will also keep you from getting bored with an everyday sandwich.
 

Go Heavy on the Produce



One of the best ways to increase the nutritional profile of your sandwich is to stuff it with fresh vegetables and fruit. Good choices include romaine lettuce, spinach leaves, sprouts, tomato slices, onions, cucumbers, and bell peppers. Varying your produce choices will add more vitamins and minerals to your sandwich while also providing more texture and flavor.

In addition to the classic vegetable options, you can consider adding a new spin on your sandwich by layering your meat with apple or pear slices or sliced figs. Creamy avocado slices make another great sandwich filling that will boost your intake of healthy fats.
 

Choose Condiments Wisely



Lastly, making smart choices with your condiments can go a long way in creating a sandwich that is better for your health. Although you do not need to ditch the mayo completely, you may consider switching to a low-fat or olive oil based version of this favorite condiment. Or simply cut in half the normal amount that you would slather on your sandwich to save on fat and calories.

There are also a wide array of flavored mustards that can add a unique flavor profile to your favorite sandwich. Or try mixing it up with options such as hummus, pesto, olive tapenades, low-fat cream cheese, or whipped ricotta. The right condiment can elevate an ordinary sandwich into something extraordinary.



Regardless of if you are preparing your sandwich at home or choosing one at a restaurant, keeping these tips in mind will help you to build a healthier version of the classic meal. You do not have to abandon enjoying the convenience and versatility of a sandwich just because you are watching what you eat.

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