August 18, 2013

Homemade Uncrustables- For the Lunchbox #SundaySupper

Can I just ask you all something? Does anyone actually like to eat the bread crust?

Kids are allowed to not like the crusts. And if they refuse to eat the bread crust, we make it easy on them. We cut off their crusts for them, maybe use a special cutter to make it a cute shape, even buy pre-made, frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches just because they don't come with crusts. I honestly don't know of any other food that parents will so willingly discard a part of. And I think it's because everybody secretly agrees: crusts are icky.

But as adults, we feel like it's childish not to eat the crusts. It's a waste of our hard earned money, and we should be thankful that we have icky crusts to eat. And we can't buy those frozen crust free sandwiches for ourselves because they're too expensive, and we should really be eating something with better nutrition, and blah blah blah, pbbbbft.

Double standard much?

Look, I'm a sort of adult-type person. I have a full time job (pbbft), I own a car, I do my taxes. And I'm here telling you that if you want to bring an Uncrustable and a juice box with you for lunch, then by golly you should. No need to feel any sort of adult guilt, because I can show you how to make them cheaper, better tasting, and better for you than the ones you find in the store.

And, you know, you can make them for your child-type peoples too. But only if they're nice and share their candy.
I love Uncrustables, I really really do. I mean, we all know how much I love peanut butter, so it shouldn't surprise you that I love a good pb&j. And I hate the crusts. I force myself to eat them-- unless I'm sitting outside, and no one else is around, and I can throw them for the birds to eat-- but I still hate them. I used to buy Uncrustables in school when I was renting an attic and had no kitchen. I'd just grab one, stick it in my bag, and I'd have something quick and ready to eat on those marathon days when I had class for 7 hours straight with no break. I am not knocking the Uncrustables.

But, as with most things, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is much cheaper to make on your own, and as a pre-packaged food, Uncrustables have that mile-long list of unpronounceable ingredients. (Plus, they contain malted barley flour, which I can no longer eat since I've discovered it gives me terrible headaches. So they're just big meany-pants) But it's also true that you can't beat the convenience of that ready-to-go sandwich sitting pretty in the freezer, all sealed up and ready to go.

Well if you can't beat them, make them yourself!

... You know what I meant.
You're gonna start with two slices of bread. You can use any kind you like: white bread, potato bread, multi-grain, whole wheat. I used my honey wheat sandwich bread (which is why my slices are a little squat: I baked it in a loaf pan that was a little too big)(Yes, I totally used fresh baked bread to make an Uncrustable. You ain't gonna find that in the freezer section.)
We start by cutting off the crusts. You're not going to want to forget this step, since it's kind of the entire point to this whole exercise. I cut as close to the crust as I could manage so there's less waste. You could save the crusts to make bread crumbs or something. Probably. Or feed them to the dog. That works too.
Next, roll out the bread with a rolling pin. You don't need to roll it out too thin; this just makes it a little more pliable and easier to work with, and it seals the little air holes from the yeast.
Peanut butter. On both slices. This is important, especially if you want to keep it in the freezer. The peanut butter seals in the jelly and keeps the bread from getting soggy. I used White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter, because that's my faaaaaaaaavorite.
Next, jelly. Or jam. Or preserves. Or spreadable fruit. Or lemon curd. Or marmalade. Or the filling of your choice. You want to keep it towards the middle, at least half an inch from the sides, so it doesn't squish out the sides when you seal the sandwich. I used strawberry rhubarb jam, since that's what I had in the fridge. (You ain't gonna find that in the freezer section either, boyo.)
Then you seal it. This step gave me a lot of trouble to try and figure out. Wonder Bread makes a sandwich sealer thing that does it for you, but I wasn't going to go out and buy a tool that just does that. That seems like a waste. I read a couple people used pastry cutters that did the same thing, but I didn't have one, and those wasted a good portion of the sandwich itself. In the end, it was simple: just use a fork, like you would for a hand pie. No part of the sandwich gets wasted, and it's something that everyone already has. (And if you don't have a fork, they usually have free plastic ones at Wendy's.) I just used a sharp knife to clean up some of the more raggedy edges and shape it a little better, so it would look less like a deformed ravioli.
And that's all there is to it. Make a bunch, wrap them in plastic, and stick them in the freezer, just like the premade kind. The best part is, you're not stuck with whatever flavors the people at Smuckers think are marketable. I used white chocolate peanut butter and strawberry rhubarb jam on honey wheat bread. You could make an Elvis uncrustable with peanut butter, bacon, and bananas. You could make dessert uncrustables on cinnamon bread with Nutella and strawberry jam. You could even experiment with other types of sandwiches, like ham and cheese. And no matter what you do, it's in that convenient, cute, crust free shape that kids-- and adults!-- love.
And yes, that's my juice box. That I drank right after taking this photo. Because I am a srs adult person.

Thanks to Liz from That Skinny Chick Can Bake for hosting this week's #SundaySupper, and have some fun brown-bagging it with the rest of the #SundaySupper crew:

Sandwiches, Wraps and Entrees:
Munchies, Salads and Sides:
Sweet Treats: