“Can I have something different for lunch today, Mommy?” my 4-year-old asked.
When your picky-eating, routine-loving preschooler requests to switch up the lunchtime menu, you know you’re officially in a lunch rut.
That rut is pretty common at this point in the school year. We parents are feeling more tired than creative, and prepping and packing lunches is just another task we want to get done and out of the way.
Plus we want our kids’ lunches to be nourishing and nutritious; not just anything goes! Which is why when we find a suitable lunch option—one that meets the holy trinity of pleasing our kids’ picky palates, keeping them full through the afternoon, and providing them with essential nutrients—we tend to serve it over and over and over again, until they’re downright sick of it.
One lunchtime food we rely on in our house is deli meat, but not just any deli meat. So many of the choices out there are loaded with artificial preservatives, added nitrates, and artificial colors and flavors—none of which I’m looking to feed to my children.
The HORMEL® NATURAL CHOICE® brand is different in that it’s 100% natural* lunchmeat that’s wholesome, nutritious, and doesn’t have added preservatives*, synthetic nitrates, or artificial colors or flavors. And because it costs the same amount as the un-natural stuff out there, it’s an easy decision to make when I’m doing my grocery shopping!
To help mix up my son’s lunchtime routine, I started brainstorming ways I could use our HORMEL® NATURAL CHOICE® lunchmeat that weren’t the standard deli sandwich. Here are 8 that I came up with. Some are great for packing and taking to go, others are best prepared and served at home—but all are yummy, kid-friendly, and sure to break you out of that common lunchtime rut.
8 Creative Ways to Use Deli Meat in Kids’ Lunches
1. Lunchmeat “Pockets” with Cheese and Apple Slices
If your kids tend to be carbo-loaders like mine, sometimes it’s nice to skip the bread or grains entirely and just focus on nutritious proteins and fresh produce. You can make little “pockets” with your HORMEL® NATURAL CHOICE® lunchmeat (we like to use Smoked or Oven Roasted Turkey for this) and put a slice of cheddar cheese plus a thin wedge of apple in there. I also think a slice of Swiss plus a pickle would be yummy!
2. Scrambled Eggs with Ham and Veggies
You hear a lot about Breakfast for Dinner, but how about Breakfast for Lunch? Add a wholesome protein-packed punch by mixing some slices of HORMEL® NATURAL CHOICE® Smoked Ham into your scrambled eggs.Then add even more nutrients with veggies like spinach, onion, and red pepper.
3. Pasta Salad with Deli Meat
This is a great make-ahead lunch option. Just cook your child’s favorite pasta, mix in some veggies and deli meat (here again I think Smoked Ham works really well, but really any HORMEL® NATURAL CHOICE® lunchmeat would work), and top with some salad dressing and shredded cheese. Pop it in the refrigerator to cool and voila! Lunch will be ready when you are.
4. Vegetable Soup with Deli Meat
Some days we love to rely on a simple can of soup for lunch. Adding lunchmeat to canned vegetable soup (smoked ham added to pea soup is a favorite in our house!) gives the meal a little extra staying power. Some crackers or crusty bread on the side for dipping is always a hit with the kiddos too!
5. Personal Hawaiian Pizzas
So yummy—and great for getting the kids to help out in the kitchen! Just top bagels or English muffins with pizza sauce, chopped deli ham, pineapple tidbits, and shredded mozzarella cheese. Pop them in the oven just until the cheese is melted and you’re ready to go!
6. Cold Cut Salad
Granted, not every kid loves to eat a salad for lunch, but you can make it more flavorful and appealing by topping your greens with slices of HORMEL® NATURAL CHOICE® lunchmeat. Then add lots of colorful veggies, dried fruit, nuts/seeds, and cheese. Getting your kids to help assemble the salads also helps get them excited about such a nutritious midday meal.
7. Mac and Cheese with Deli Meat
What kid doesn’t love a warm bowl of mac and cheese for lunch? Whether you’re relying on a ready-made brand or making it yourself, toss some chopped up HORMEL® NATURAL CHOICE® deli ham in there!
8. Cracker Sammies
If your kid really does love sandwiches but you still want to mix it up, try cracker sammies instead! You can really use any kind of deli meat plus any kind of cheese—we even like to use cream cheese sometimes. (This idea is especially great for toddlers too.)
The next time your family is stuck in a lunchtime rut, try thinking outside the box with your lunchmeat. The HORMEL® NATURAL CHOICE® brand is all about ensuring everyone has access to nutritious meat. The combination of great taste, no artificial preservatives*, and an affordable cost makes it easy. Make The Natural Choice®!
What’s your go-to quick and easy lunch? Comment below for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card!
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*No nitrates or nitrites added except for those naturally occurring in celery and cherry powder.
185 responses to “Creative Ways to Use Deli Meat in Kids’ Lunches—That Aren’t Sandwiches!”
My go to is leftovers.
Yummy. I like to eat meat and cheese roll ups. So good. Plus i like making my own Egg, meat and cheese breakfast sandwiches.
We love my Egg Salad Bento Lunch! We love Bento lunch boxes where I can put in different healthy items and have a fast lunch to go!
My go-to is usually leftovers. However, I also like fruit and yogurt. I usually eat pretty light during the day.
My toddler starts preschool in the fall and I’m already trying to think of lunch box ideas. Thanks for a bunch of new ideas to try!
My go to quick and easy lunch is mason jar salads. I add lettuce, veggies, dried fruit and diced lunch meat in a mason jar and bring dressing in a small container on the side, pour it in the jar and shake.
My go to lunch is a ham and cheese sub.
My go to quick easy lunch is ham and cheese sandwich.
my tweet – https://twitter.com/myway070/status/864941628938633216
My go to lunch is a veggie sandwich.
My go to lunch is a turkey wrap with avocado and lettuce
Wow, these are so creative and so easy! I love the pockets – what a cute idea!
Totally pinning this! We have already hit the “school lunches suck phase” in the school year so this would be a great way to spice things up!
These are great ideas! I like making chicken wraps.
Wow, you really are creative. I never thought to do many of these. Thanks for the ideas.
I needed some new ideas! With the school year almost over, I am out of them! These are great and would be perfect for picnics and taking to the pool over the summer!
Ive baked lunch meat on crackers with parmesan. I also love using it to make pizzas on tortillas or in salads.
I shared the page on twitter here https://twitter.com/docshananigans/status/865026648030285825
I LOVE that these are nitrate free! My go to quick lunch is usually a chicken breast sandwich with sandwich thins and popcorn. These are some really good ideas. I really like cracker sammies!
My to go lunch is what we had for dinner the night before.
my go-to lunch is yogurt and granola
I love pizza from the grocery store.
These are all awesome ideas. My go to is usually grilled cheese or a salad.
Soup is a good quick go-to meal
salad with rotisserie chicken
I slice cheese and cold cuts and have them stacked on crackers, for a quickie lunch.
The bagels sound so yummy! I would love to do it with my kids.
I guess Iwould send along a salad with ham cut up in it.
my quick fix is to make a sandwich with some yummy coldcuts
My Quick Easy Lunch is Soup and salad
My go-to quick and easy lunch is hummus and veggies!
I tweeted about this promotion! https://twitter.com/PJGurganus/status/865234878954131456
Quick and easy lunches for my kid: Kraft Dinner, sandwich, soup, chicken strips’n’fries, empanadas, or pasta with tomato sauce.
I am all about turkey wraps! with a little avocado or hummus and lettuce – simple.
I tweeted: https://twitter.com/megananne73/status/865301020607381504
Sandwich, carrots, piece of cheese and yogurt.
my go-to lunch is a quick yogurt with wheat germ and banana.
My go to lunch is a chef salad,it’s got everything in one bowl,meat,cheese,eggs,and veggies,with a light dressing,so yummy!!
I think grilled cheese sandwiches are our ‘go to’ lunch.
Sent a tweet.
cream cheese turkey roll up.
peanut butter sandwiches
Quesadillas are my quick go-to lunch! (Sometimes I’ll just microwave them for a few seconds)
My go-to quick and easy lunch is always trail mix.
I tweeted https://twitter.com/shanerus2/status/865469304443097089
My quick go-to lunch is either cheese sandwiches and apple slices or PB&J sandwiches with cottage cheese on the side.
My quick and easy lunch is pizza of any kind!
My Quick to go is fresh fruit, or Celery with hummus
My go-to quick and easy lunch is hummus with sliced veggies or pita chips.
I like chicken and broccoli wrap for quick lunch.
tcarolinep at gmail dot com
tweet – https://twitter.com/tcarolinep/status/865770189022830592
My go to is still classic Peanut Butter and Jelly 🙂
My go-to quick lunch is leftovers from last night’s dinner.
Thanks for the chance to win!
wildorchid985 at gmail dot com
My go-to quick and easy lunch is an egg salad sandwich.
My kiddo loves sandwiches with grapes so that’s usually my go to lunch for her.
Carol Burgess (@carol32608) tweeted at 10:46 AM on Mon, May 22, 2017:
Creative Ways to Use Deli Meat in Kids’ Lunches—That Aren’t Sandwiches! – https://t.co/GEj4WIJCoC? @KatieMarkeyMcL #Sweeps #SweepstakesEntry
Usually ham and cheese on crackers.
My go to lunch is a nice deli sandwich, chips and a pickle
groogruxking40 @ gmail dot com
I love a ham and Swiss cheese sandwich
and some fresh fruit for a quick and easy lunch.
I love to use the meat on crackers as a snack while watching TV.
I love tuna stuffed avocados!
My go-to is always a quick and tasty sandwich 🙂 Throw some lettuce & tomato on top if I’ve got time to be fancy 😀
Tweeted 🙂 – https://twitter.com/Anastasia_Fall/status/867548863078449152
My go-to quick and easy lunch is prosciutto wrapped melon, grapes and Brie or Camembert with Triscuit crackers.
My go to quick lunch is grilled chicken salad.
amy [at] uTry [dot] it
amy [at] uTry [dot] it
my go to quick and easy lunch is the classic bagel and cream chise with a side of mixed fruit
My quick and healthy go to lunch is a chef salad.
I like some zoodles for a quick and easy + healthy lunch.
My go to lunch is a turkey sandwich and sliced fruit.
peanut butter and jelly
My go to lunch is usually a tuna sandwich.
My go-to quick and easy lunch is a roasted veggie wrap. Roasted veggies, mayo, seasoning. That’s it! Super simple but really delicious!
My go-to quick and easy lunch is a grilled ranch wrap. Delicious and easy!
Tweeted – https://twitter.com/lauralynnrose/status/869820486364012544
I buy Hormel Natural Choice products all the time and create salads with the lunch meat.
Tweeted – https://twitter.com/MzBeeBeeTweets/status/870189930336706562
Lately I’ve been making lettuce wraps for lunch.
I keep washed organic greens in my fridge for quick lunches. It’s so easy to add washed veggies, ham, and cheese!
My go-to quick and easy lunch is a turkey pita with whatever veggies that are in my refrigerator along with hummus, feta cheese and sriracha.
I tweeted: https://twitter.com/FireRunner2379/status/870416181097897984.
I love a good turkey sandwich!
we love to make turkey wraps!!
My easy and quick lunch is a turkey and cheese sandwich.
cshell090869 at aol dot com
cshell090869 at aol dot com
My go to quick and easy lunch is a chicken wrap with fresh garden veggies.
My go to quick lunch is a ham and cheese sandwich
I like to make sandwiches on toasted sourdough bread.
My quick and easy lunch option is a chicken caesar salad! 🙂
I tweeted for an extra entry: https://twitter.com/DeeGee13/status/872559541367472128 Thanks for the chance!
I eat leftovers almost every day!
For an easy and quick lunch we like hummus, pretzels and fruit.
This is especially great in the summer when appetites can be low.
barbara dot montyj at gmail dot com
My go to is a grilled cheese sandwich
Usually grilled cheese or a scrambled egg. Thanks so much.
My favorite quick lunch is a peanut butter and banana sandwich.
Tweet link: https://twitter.com/shala_darkstone/status/873691426902732800
My sweet little Chloe Pearl lives for tuna!
Usually a salad or baked potatoes and veggies.
Thank you for the chance to win!
My go-to quick and easy lunch is leftovers from last night’s dinner. 🙂
Thanks for the chance to win!
wildorchid985 at gmail dot com
My go to quick and easy lunch is a protein shake!
well sandwiches or smoothies are always great.
I like to make a wrap for a quick and easy lunch.
My go to lunch is leftovers. We try to use everything up.
A veggie burger!
i like a salad for a quick lunch or whatever leftovers i have from the night before
Go to quick and easy lunch is a grilled cheese with ham. jammielmorey at gmail dot com
tweeted https://twitter.com/Jammie79/status/880493698265624577 jammielmorey at gmail dot com
My go-to quick and easy lunch is ham and cheese sandwiches.
My go-to lunch is a bagel with peanut butter and a piece of fruit 🙂
either left overs, sandwiches or hot dogs
tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com
tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com
My go to quick and easy lunch is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
My go-to quick and easy lunch is turkey and cheese sandwiches.
I like to make egg scrambles with whatever leftovers we have.
I really like ham and cheese roll ups
mummytotwoboys at yahoo dot com
My son is huge on fresh vegetables so I try to keep some cut up and ready to go. Along with crackers and rolled lunch meats and cheeses.
We like sandwiches!
for a quick lunch I will either scramble eggs or make a sandwich.
link to tweet
I like the list! Those are really easy to prepare and they look yummy! I often make mac and cheese and mix bacon or ham.
My quick go to is to make a few days worth of pasta with pesto.
My go-to quick and easy lunch is a pb&j sandwich with a glass of milk, chocolate milk if I’m feeling adventurous.
My go to quick and easy lunch is turkey and cheddar with BBQ sauce sandwiches.
Ham and cheese rollups with mustard.
My go-to quick and easy lunch is veggies dipped in hummus.
I love a flatbread sandwich
Usually a ham and turkey sandwich — with some veggies piled on — is a quick lunch for me.
pixelberrypie at yahoo dot com
My quick go to lunch is a sandwich. Nothing faster than throwing everything on top of bread! LOL
My super quick go-to lunch is lunch meat wrapped around cheese. Never miss the bread or condiments.
My go-to quick and easy lunch is making my family a delicious BLT sandwich.
I publicly Tweeted this giveaway: https://twitter.com/versatileer/status/892073627834875904