If you're not sure what to serve the kids for a snack or meal, consider setting out a platter of tea sandwiches. Tea sandwiches (also called finger sandwiches) are a healthy, easy, and inexpensive way to fill up the kids when they need a hearty snack or something different for lunch. They can also be adapted to almost any birthday or party theme.
The Basic Steps
To make a tea sandwich, you will need sliced bread, condiments, and fillings. The bread doesn't have to be toasted, but it makes it easier to spread condiments on top and the sandwiches will hold up better if they need to be made well ahead of time.
To make one tea sandwich, lightly toast one slice of bread and spread on the desired condiment(s). Cut off the crusts, then cut the toast in half lengthwise. Spread and/or layer the two rectangular pieces with whatever fillings you like. This will result in a small rectangular sandwich that kids can consume in a few bites. (You can also cut the sandwich into triangles if you prefer.)
A Bit of Fun
You can add a playful twist to these tea sandwiches by using cookie cutters to create different shapes. Make the sandwiches full-size and use different cookie cutters—from princess tiaras to rocket ships—to cut them into desired shapes.
These sandwiches can also be turned into pinwheels. Skip toasting the bread, and roll up the made sandwich instead. Then turn the roll on its side and cut it into pinwheels, securing with a toothpick.
Simple Filling Ideas
If you are feeding a few kids with a range of tastes, keeping the fillings simple is a good idea. It also allows you to easily make a variety of tea sandwiches without needing a lot of ingredients. Some basic fillings to consider are peanut butter and jelly, cream cheese, ham and cheese, and turkey and mayonnaise.
If you’re using mayonnaise or any other foods that can spoil if left out, be sure to keep the sandwiches refrigerated or on ice until you’re ready to serve them, especially if serving them outdoors in hot weather.
Sophisticated Filling Ideas
If time, ingredients, and the kids' palates allow, creating more sophisticated fillings for the tea sandwiches will add another level of interest to snacktime or lunchtime. Whether for a birthday party or Tuesday afternoon, choosing a fun theme will make these simple tea sandwiches special.
Pretty Princess Tea Sandwiches: A variety of fillings can make a tea sandwich fit for a princess. Spread strawberry cream cheese on the toast slices and then place sliced bananas inside, or simply spread the toast with raspberry or strawberry jam and butter. You can also combine butter with sliced cucumbers, or pair apricot jam with a slice of ham, both dainty sandwich ideas.
Color-Themed Tea Sandwiches: Fruits and vegetables are an easy way to add a specific color to a tea sandwich. If green is a well-loved color in your household or representative of a favorite superhero, you have a few options. Spread cream cheese on the toast and then fill with cucumber slices and sprouts. You can also roast vegetables like zucchini and green pepper and top with a slice of mozzarella cheese. Green grapes paired with a spreadable cheese (such as goat cheese) is also a nice combination. Almost any color is possible using a fruit or vegetable in the right hue.
Under the Sea Sandwiches: For a mermaid, ocean, or other underwater themes, make fish-filled tea sandwiches. Mix canned tuna with a small amount of mayonnaise and relish or chopped pickles, or make mini lobster rolls on toast for the kids who love this summertime treat. You can also prepare frozen fish sticks (according to package directions) and sandwich one in between two slices of toast with either mayonnaise, tartar sauce, or ketchup.
Hawaiian Luau Tea Sandwiches: You can create some tropical treats with just a few simple ingredients. Layer a slice of ham, slice of pineapple, and mayonnaise in between the toast, or make mini pulled-pork sandwiches using a sweet Hawaiian barbecue sauce, and serve the pork on sweet rolls instead of toast. Substituting pineapple chunks for apples in a Waldorf chicken salad sandwiches is also a way to create some Hawaiian flair.
Breakfast-for-Lunch Tea Sandwiches: Kids seem to love breakfast foods any time of day, so incorporating them into tea sandwiches is a win-win. Make breakfast-style tea sandwiches by layering a fried egg, a slice of bacon, and a bit of mayonnaise on the toast; a tomato slice would make a nice addition. You can also make hard-boiled egg salad tea sandwiches, or a BLT tea sandwich, layering bacon, lettuce, and tomato (plus a bit of mayonnaise) on the toast.
Instead of serving the sandwich on toast, put the ingredients in between two thin waffles. Fill the waffle slices with jam and whipped cream (or eggs and bacon), then slice the waffle sandwiches into tea-sandwich shapes.
Fast-Food Style Tea Sandwiches: Kids are often fans of fast food, so why not incorporate the idea into a tea sandwich? Make them pizza-style by spreading a thin layer of marinara sauce on the toast and filling the sandwich with a slice of mozzarella cheese and two pieces of pepperoni. For a chicken nugget experience, spread barbecue sauce on the toast and then place a chicken tender inside. Mini cheeseburger tea sandwiches can be made with small burger patties and the typical burger toppings, such as ketchup, mustard, pickles, and tomatoes.
If you have a panini maker, you could whip up several grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches at once. Make whole sandwiches first, then cut them in half, and serve warm.
Peanut Butter Lovers Tea Sandwiches: Easy and nutritious, peanut butter goes well with a variety of ingredients. If a little extra sugar is okay, combine peanut butter and marshmallow creme, or peanut butter and Nutella. For a healthy twist, spread peanut butter on the toast and then sprinkle trail mix ingredients on the top, such as sunflower seeds, raisins, coconut, wheat germ, or granola. Although perhaps an unlikely-sounding pair, peanut butter and sliced banana go together very well and was Elvis Presley's favorite meal. Heat them up in a panini machine for an extra gooey treat.
Fall Harvest Tea Sandwiches: Apples add a little seasonal crunch to your tea sandwiches and are perfect for a fall harvest celebration or Halloween bash. Spread mayonnaise on one slice of the toast, place a slice of turkey on top, followed by a fairly thick slice of apple, then the other slice of toast. Or, keep it simple with peanut butter and apple slices.