Lunchbox Treats – Twenty Ideas for Wrap Fillings

Sometimes it’s not the fillings that children send home in their lunch boxes, it’s the bread that encases them. It wasn’t until she was in Year 8 that my daughter admitted that she hated sandwiches. “I want something that’s not boring!”, she said, but when pressed further, she said, “anything but bread!”

Anything but bread. Off the top of my head, that could include corn tortillas, rice paper sheets, lebanese bread, roti or chappatis, mountain bread, naan bread, crackerbreads, melba or bruschetta toasts (a long shot, I know), pizza bases (ditto), Afghani bread, pita or pocket breads. And that’s before we veer away from bread completely and use lettuce leaves, seaweed sheets, grape-vine leaves or cabbage leaves, to name but a few green wraps.

Thank goodness we have so many options available, all of them budget priced and readily available from supermarket shelves. You can also store many of these flatbreads, once you open the packet, either in airtight containers in the fridge, or in the freezer to help them last through the week.

When you make the wraps, it’s worth remembering that it’s best to heat up the bread to soften it before you roll it up. Cover it with clingwrap and heat for 30 seconds in a microwave, then add your ingredients and roll it up. Cut them in half for little hands to hold, then wrap them up tightly in clingwrap to help them hold their shape. It goes without saying that for very small children, you should make sure they can actually peel off the clingwrap before they start Big School. You’d be surprised how much food gets binned because they can’t unwrap their food.

Here then are twenty ideas for suitable fillings, which are of course interchangeable with the sandwich fillings provided last week. Please add your ideas in the comments below and share the love.

Twenty Ideas for Wrap Fillings

  • HERBED CHICKEN SALAD Not every salad has to be soaking in mayonnaise and this is a good example of a light and tasty lunch option. Take some skinned chicken breast or chicken tenders and cook them in a pan until they’re brown. Put the cooked chicken in a bowl, shred it with two forks, then add diced tomato, sliced cucumber and a little red onion slices if you’re feeling brave. Sprinkle the mixture with a tablespoon of cider vinegar and some olive oil and some finely chopped mint, salt and a pinch of dried oregano. Stuff it all inside each half of your pita bread with some lettuce and you’re away.
  • TURKEY AND PESTO Surprisingly good on a tortilla, you can mix shaved turkey slices with some bought pesto and a spoonful of softened cream cheese to take it further. Top with sliced tomato and roll it up tight. The tomato helps keep the tortilla from drying out before lunchtime.
  • MEXICAN BEANS AND SALSA Use either a tortilla or mountain bread for this recipe and add a spoonful or two of refried beans or the bean mixture from this recipe. Top it with some grated tasty cheese, some shredded lettuce and either some salsa or guacamole. In other words, use up the leftovers from tonight’s mexican meal for tomorrow’s lunch. A guaranteed winner.
  • MEAT-FREE BLT For the vegetarian teenager in your house who still hasn’t come to terms with tofu, something a little less exotic might appeal. Fill a pita bread with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, some grated carrot and a little salt. You may have to re-name it so it doesn’t include the B.
  • HOMMOUS AND TABOULI As a university student I lived on this for four years and it never once felt boring or same-same. Rip some lebanese bread in half widthways and lay one layer over the other, then smear generously with garlicky hommous, some tabouli, roasted sliced tomatoes, onion rings, tasty cheese (0ptional), and some roasted capsicum if you are feeling very luxe. It’s best when it’s toasted, but still not a bad option served at room temperature.
  • CHICKPEA AND MUSTARD Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas and mash with a fork. Mix together with 2 tsp Dijon or American mustard, 2 tablespoons of mustard pickles and a grated carrot. Great with Afghani bread or Indian breads such as roti and chapatis
  • PEANUT BUTTER, GRATED CARROTS AND SULTANAS This is very popular with young children and grated carrots mixed into peanut butter is easy to hide the taste of, but somehow makes the peanut taste sweeter. Those children with nut allergies will enjoy this combination mixed through some bottled cheese spread or ricotta instead. Top with some shredded lettuce if you want to feel really virtuous.
  • CHICKEN AND SWEET CHILLI SAUCE Also popular with ham or salami or shredded turkey, mix some diced chicken with a spoonful of plain or greek yoghurt and some diced spring onion, plus a spoonful of sweet chilli sauce or mango chutney. Wrap it up in lebanese bread or pita pockets, but eat cold or at room temperature.
  • BEAN SALAD You can use a generic can of four bean mix if you want, but try some of this bean salad recipe and top it with some tabouli, a spoonful of plain yoghurt and a scattering of mint leaves. Really enjoyable through warmer months and fantastic if you need a mid-afternoon power boost to your children’s energy levels, for example, on your way to after-school swim squad or gymnastics.
  • PORK AND MUSTARD Wonderful with last night’s leftover pork, use a pocket bread or some cracker breads with some thinly sliced pork, a teaspoon or two of seeded mustard and some grated zucchini or cucumber.
  • TURKEY, PINEAPPLE AND CREAM CHEESE This is very popular in America and to me it is very sweet, but then again, your children might eat it because of this. Mix a tablespoon of cream cheese or mayonnaise with finely diced turkey (sliced turkey from the deli is the cheapest), a spoonful of crushed pineapple or some finely diced fresh pineapple and a small stick of finely grated or diced celery. Good in a tortilla.
  • CHICKEN AND AVOCADO A lunchtime variation on the popular chicken burritos we serve around here, there is nothing more coveted than taking the leftovers to school the next day. Oven bake some crumbed chicken tenders, place on some tortillas, add shredded lettuce, grated cheese, sliced avocado, and some sweet chilli sauce. You can thank me later.
  • VEGIE RICE PAPER ROLLS Rice paper rolls are wonderful for people struggling with a gluten intolerance and as far as asian-accented flavour combinations go, you are limited only by your imagination when it comes to filling them. Soak rice paper sheets in hot water until they soften and lay them flat on a wooden board. Soak some rice vermicelli noodles in hot water, then drain them and cut them into short pieces and mix with grated carrot, shredded red cabbage, finely diced spring onions, some bean sprouts and a couple of mint leaves and coriander leaves. Top with some sliced pork or chicken if you want to include meat and roll them up tightly, tucking the ends in as you go. Sensational with a lime chilli dipping sauce, you can make these in advance and store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
  • ROAST LAMB AND BEETROOT RELISH Of all roasted meats, lamb is one of the strongest tasting and is not always popular in a plain sandwich the next day. The next time you have lamb roast leftovers, go via Lebanon and slice thick chunks of lamb onto lebanese bread, top with tabouli and a huge pile of beetroot relish, and even 1 or 2 roasted garlic cloves. Leftover lamb never looked so good.
  • ROAST BEEF AND SALSA You can use tortillas or mountain bread for this, and the beef can be as rare and as thinly sliced as you want. Simply layer roast beef slices, some grated tasty cheese, your favourite salsa (try Pico de Gallo from this recipe) and some baby spinach leaves for a mouth-watering change.
  • TIKKA CHICKEN AND RAITA When you get the chance and you see chicken drumsticks or thighs on special, buy a couple extra and treat yourself to this beautiful wrap filling. Marinate chicken pieces in one part Tandoori or Tikka Masala paste with two parts plain yoghurt overnight, then grill the chicken pieces until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is orange and slightly charred from the marinade. Shred the meat from the bones and lay on rotis or a heated naan bread with some shredded lettuce and some mint raita or mango chutney and wrap tightly.
  • WALDORF SALAD AND CHICKEN Waldorf salad is improved immeasurably when chicken is added, but for a meat-free option, this salad combines crunch, texture and a ridiculously good flavour combination all on its own. Combine 1 finely diced celery stick with a grated Granny Smith apple – keep the skin on – a handful of roughly chopped walnuts and some seasonal grapes, together with some diced chicken and a spoonful or two of mayo. It’s delicious on crackerbread or bruschetta toasts.
  • ITALIAN Perfect for pita or pocket breads, you can add any combination of vegetables you want to any choice of cold cut that you have, for example salami, mortadella, coppa or bresaola. Buy just a few slices at a time and store the meat slices between sheets of greaseproof paper in an airtight container and they will keep very well without getting shiny or smelly. But I digress – to your choice of cold cuts, add sun-dried tomatoes or roasted capsicum, a slice or two of grilled eggplant, some sliced black olives and a handful of grated mozzarella. This works very well if you are fortunate enough to work in an office that has a sandwich toaster so that you can warm it through and melt the cheese a little, but is also delicious at room temperature.
  • LAMB AND TZATZIKI Useful on lebanese bread or in pita breads, you can add any lamb cuts you want including last nights lamb meatballs, but the trick is to give them a squirt of lemon juice as well. Top with plain yoghurt or some mint-flavoured labneh or tzatziki and a few slices of tomato. You can substitute the lamb for pork or beef leftovers as well. I’ve even been known to use up last night’s barbecued steak, thinly sliced across the grain. Fantastic.
  • PARMESAN, PEAR AND ROCKET SALAD A variation on the classic salad combination, this is really very good in a tortilla. Perhaps it’s the light corn flavouring, but it works surprisingly well. Lay some washed and drained rocket leaves in the centre of the wrap. Toss slices of slightly firm pears in a combination of 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tsp balsamic vinegar and lay over the rocket, then sprinkle shaved or roughly grated parmesan on top. It tastes salty, peppery, sweet and vinegary all at once and the fibre content in this meal would make your dietician proud.

54 thoughts on “Lunchbox Treats – Twenty Ideas for Wrap Fillings”

  1. Yum!!!!

    I had a yummy wrap for lunch yesterday – sourdough wrap, spread with mashed avocado, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato and chopped shallots. Yum.

    Your pico de gallo link is missing…

    1. Yes, it was the comments here and following the suggestions for sandwich fillings that have alerted me to this fact, thanks everyone for your advice as well as the excellent suggestions for suitable substitutes.

  2. Lots of school bags are left outside of the classroom. Have you checked what condition these would be in by lunch time in terms of food safety?

    1. jenny wood you lighten up a little…. food safety?… from morning to lunch? even if mothers were making these the night before! …. unless of course you live along the equator ???

      1. Amber
        I too was also wondering about food safety unless you’ve actually had a child throw-up at school because her yoghurt gad now curdled In the morning heat! You’ll never know what that feeling feels like……
        As my daughter gas done thus on 1 occasion because of that
        So please think before you speak as there are some actual mother who actually give two hoots for there child’s health !
        Thank you
        Mother here of a 3.5yr old daughter & a 1.5yr old daughter…

    2. Amber, you can buy small freezer packs to put in the lunch bag. You can also buy insulated lunch bags. These keep the food cold until mealtime.

  3. Hi Sandra,

    Might I say that I have been following your story and think you’re doing a fantastic and admirable thing. I was an only child raised by a single mum and I wish my mum had been as creative and diligent as you seem to be with your food and your kids.

    Secondly, regarding renaming the Vegetarian BLT, since you have carrots in it, you could call it the TLC!

    All the best in your endeavors and good luck with the book.

    1. The TLC! I love it – who doesn’t need a little TLC?! Will have to try this and a few of the others for my sandwich hating 7yo. Thanks!

  4. Thanks for the fab veggie ideas between here and your other ‘proper’ sandwich post. You inspired me to have rice paper spring rolls for dinner, too :)

  5. Just had a look through your recipes. These look really great although I am yet to try them. My husband is a diabetic and a truck driver so heated up leftovers are not in the mix. I was looking for lunch recipes other than sandwiches and these look fantastic. I also do the rice paper rolls at least once a week so these other suggestions are just great. Great work keep it up. P.S. I signed up because I saw your story in That’s Life.

  6. Thanks Sandra for posting. I bring my lunch every day and I only have 30 minutes. I was looking for new ideas as I am tired of turkey and swiss sandwiches. Can’t wait to try.

  7. These are all really yummy sandwich idea! but I would never put plastic and food together in the microwave. Toxic chemicals will leech into the food and you don’t want your children ingesting harmful chemicals.

  8. Hi Sandra, I’m a newbie at school lunchs (my eldest has just started Kindy). She is gluten intolerant so I prefer to use wraps instead of bread. I haven’t been game to include wraps in her lunchbox as I was afraid they would go really soggy. Can you reassure me? I love using mountian bread and soji wraps but they seem so thin, is there a special way to wrap them so they don’t go soggy?

    1. Mayo is not the enemy here, it’s wet ingredients. Tomatoes can be a big culprit. Try and keep the filling as ‘dry’ as possible by minimising the amount of juicy salad vegies and then wrap them as you would a burrito. Place the fillings down the centre of the wrap, tuck the ends over towards the middle, then roll the wrap over and over to keep everything tucked inside. I cut the wraps in two and wrap each wrap in cling film to hold it all in tightly.

  9. This is such a great list!! Thank you for the lunch ideas.

    One FYI, though: Turkey, cream cheese, and pineapple? I can tell you that it’s NOT “very popular” in America. I’ve never heard of such! ;)

      1. I think Ham and pineapple is considered a more classic combo. And then chicken and pineapple in soy sauce based dishes, but not turkey. I do have a great chicken salad recipe (classic mayo dressing) that has grapes and pineapple in it, that sounds similar to your wrap.

  10. haha! i was about to say the same thing! i’ve never heard of the turkey/pineapple combo! although i must say, i think it will be the first one that i will try! sounds very interesting…

  11. I have been searching for wrap filling recipes. This is a good source to come to for different lunch ideas. I can’t wait to try the chicken and avocado wrap.

  12. Instead of wrapping them in cling plastic how about using parchment paper or something similar?

    1. Wrapping them in a clean dish towel and warming them works very well. Also, a slightly damp paper towel does the job nicely.

  13. My daughter is in 7 and hates sandwiches. I know she will eat her lunch if I make her a wrap. Simple ham cheese mayo and lettuce.

  14. Turkey, pineapple, and cream cheese has become a joke between my friends and I. We couldn’t believe it when we read that it’s a combo that “Americans like”. I haven’t come across one person that likes it, has heard of it, or think it even sounds remotely good!

    1. My grandma was from South Carolina, and I remember she used to serve us sandwiches with a mixture of mayonaise, shredded cheddar and crushed pineapple. That pineapple stuff is something her generation did and I don’t think it was a popular recipe to pass down the generations. I really liked it, but there’s not much foodwise I don’t like.

  15. Most tortillas are high in carbs, more than breads. As for tomatos & soggyness, cut into wedges, scoop out seed pockets with thumb, dice remainder for sandwich, use leaf lettuce to line tortilla before filling.

    1. If carbs are an issue for people, there are several brands of low carb tortillas out there that are quite tasty :)

  16. I love turkey and cream cheese, only I mix it with cranberries instead of pineapple. Its delicious! It also works with grilled chicken and noodles

  17. Hi just a tip for those that are vegetarian or don’t like tofu. My son has been vegetarian for years and we found a great meat replacement that the rest of the’ Meaties’ in the family have not been able to tell the difference in pasta dishes or soups at least(lol) It is a product that is vegan and still has the texture and feel of meat. Quorn products they have a huge line and have not found anything yet that isn’t tasty.

  18. ooops correction it is NOT vegan..has small amounts of milk or whey in some products so check lable on each package if there are milk or maybe even gluten sensitivities. Sorry.

  19. PLEASE, never heat food in a microwave using cling wrap or any kind of plastic. When plastic is heated, it not only releases hormones into your food, but dioxins as well. I just read an article about this and dioxins are very harmful. Enough exposure to them can cause cancer and has been linked to breast cancer. Just a friendly word of advice. :)

    Other than that, I found this post on Pinterest and have bookmarked it. Thanks for all the great (and yummy) ideas! :)

  20. One of my kids favorite lunches is a bag of Doritos (or other nacho chip). Then I send them baggies of cheese, tomatoes (add salsa if they want it to this bag), and lettuce. With little container of yogurt (sour cream).

    2nd favorite cream cheese and jam

    3rd favorite crackers, cheese, pickles, bit size meat

    4th favorite wraps with avocade as base or cream cheese based on child and then whatever else they want

    5th favorite English muffin pizza: pizza sauce, and whatever topping they want with mozza cheese

  21. Pingback: Lunch for Mom
  22. I’m a recent convert to Wraps, & furthermore, I’ve yet to eat one that I DIDN’T enjoy either.

    Furthermore, This is also my FIRST visit to this Blog. I can ASSURE you, that It WON’T be my last.

  23. Hi, I have recently started spreading peanut butter on a wrap with a layer of cut up & peeled apple and rolling it up. It’s also good with peanut butter and sliced banana rolled up. Makes a good breakfast, snack, or lunch!

    1. One of my favorite wraps is a whole wheat wrap with natural peanut butter and thinly sliced bananas and strawberries. I don’t roll it, jut fold like a quesadilla.

      I realize many schools are pb free but it’s still a great option for a weekend lung or snack at home.

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