Frozen Sandwiches for School Lunches – How to Freeze Sandwiches for Lunch Meal Prep
Ideas & Recipes for Freezer Sandwiches + Best Freezable Sandwich Fillings!
It’s tough to meal prep sandwiches for the week, but you can prep these make ahead freezer sandwiches weeks—even months—in advance! I’ll show you how to freeze sandwiches for lunch (and how EASY it is), using my turkey / ham and cheese freezer sandwiches as an example.
Plus, I’ll break down which ingredients don’t freeze well, and which freezable sandwich fillings are your best options. That way, you’re free to get creative and prep your favorite frozen sandwiches for school lunches or work lunches!
How to Meal Prep Sandwiches – Homemade FROZEN Sandwiches for School Lunches
Whether you’re short on time or meal prepping for a family, sandwiches are a go-to easy lunch option. They require little-to-no cooking or prep work and there’s tons of room for variety, so you can make all of the different taste buds in your household happy!
But, meal prep sandwiches often aren’t the greatest lunch option—especially when we usually end up eating them a few days after they were prepared. The bread gets soggy, produce doesn’t taste as fresh, and meat can start to feel slimy or smell funky…
So, if you’ve ever wondered how to meal prep sandwiches without the soggy, funky, not-so-goodness, the answer is easy-freezy. Say hello to make ahead FREEZER sandwiches that you can prep in advance, and reheat when you’re ready! Honestly, after learning how to freeze sandwiches for lunch meal prep purposes, I think you’ll never go back.
It’s SO incredibly convenient to have frozen sandwiches for school lunches on-hand when you need them. Once frozen, the ingredients on your make ahead freezer sandwiches will be preserved in all of their deliciousness. And, after thawing in the fridge, you can give your frozen sandwiches new life by reheating in the toaster oven or grilling on a panini press!
We’ll talk about defrosting frozen sandwiches and your reheating options in a moment, but first let’s go through some best practices for freezing sandwiches and how to freeze sandwiches for lunch meal prep.
Tips & Best Practices for Freezing Sandwiches
If you’ve ever wondered, can you freeze sandwiches for lunch? The answer is clearly: YES! But, is there a ‘right’ way to make frozen sandwiches for school lunches? And can you freeze any old sandwich?
I mean, if you can freeze turkey sandwiches, can you freeze ham sandwiches? Or can you freeze ham AND cheese sandwiches? What about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Can you freeze sandwiches with mayo or other sandwich spreads?
Most importantly, do frozen sandwiches still taste good after thawing?
I’ll show you exactly how to freeze sandwiches for lunch for maximum tastiness—including the method that I personally like the most! But first, there area few things to know about freezing meal prep sandwiches to get the best results:
You can store your make ahead freezer sandwiches ‘raw’ or ‘cooked!’
When it comes to freezing sandwiches, you can freeze them in their classic ‘raw’ (uncooked) form, OR you can grill/panini press them before freezing! Both types of frozen sandwiches will defrost just fine, and both are delicious enjoyed cold—even pre-grilled sandwiches.
Of course, you can also reheat grilled freezer sandwiches on the panini press or in the toaster oven and eat them warm. Or, you can always store your freezer sandwiches in ‘raw’ form, and then grill or toast them up after thawing when you’re ready to eat! It really depends on your preference.
Personally, I like to panini press my freezer sandwiches before freezing them. I just think they taste better, and I love how the grill marks look!
Plus, pressing/grilling your freezer sandwiches before storing gives you a little more wiggle room when it comes to how you assemble them.
Spreads & Condiments for Freezer Sandwiches
- For deli meat and cheese freezer sandwiches that you plan to store ‘RAW,’ place spreads and condiments in between the meat and cheese. This will prevent those wet ingredients from seeping into the bread and making it soggy.
- If you plan to GRILL your deli meat and cheese freezer sandwiches before storing, you can spread your condiments directly onto the bread. Since they’ll be cooked and cooled before freezing, you don’t have to worry about the moisture soaking into the bread.
- Some of your freezer sandwiches might be filled only with spreads, like a peanut butter & jelly. In this case, spread the nut/seed butter onto your bread slices first—a thick layer on one bread slice, and a thin layer on the other slice.Since nut butter doesn’t contain quite as much moisture, it acts as a sort of ‘rain coat’ around the jelly/jam so the bread doesn’t get soggy!
Produce & Veggies on Frozen Sandwiches
- Typically, if you’re freezing sandwiches in their ‘RAW’ form, you don’t want to add produce. That means no tomatoes, no lettuce, etc. Most produce contains a fair amount of moisture which means it doesn’t freeze well, usually resulting in a soggy sandwich when thawed!
- If you want to include produce on a ‘raw’ freezer sandwich, wait to add it until the time of eating. Toss your frozen sandwiches for lunch in the lunch bag with some sliced produce in a separate container, and just add it to the sandwich at lunch time!
- But, if you plan to GRILL your freezer sandwiches first, it’s safe to add most types of produce! Again, the grilling and then cooling process will help to remove some of that excess moisture, so the produce will hold up better in the freezer.
Most Breads are Freezer-Friendly
Since learning how to freeze sandwiches for lunch meal prep purposes, I’ve found that pretty much any type of bread will work. Whole wheat or whole grain, gluten free bread, sliced bread, sandwich thins, pita bread, even tortillas—use whatever suits your lifestyle and taste buds!
Have fun with different bread options, and try switching things up to keep your frozen sandwiches for school lunches interesting!
Freezable Sandwich Fillings & What Doesn’t Freeze Well
Remember, you’ve got a wider variety of options for freezable sandwich fillings if you plan to press/grill your freezer sandwiches before freezing them. After ingredients have been cooked—especially foods that contain more moisture—they’re much more freezer-friendly!
But, whether you just don’t own a panini press or you’re just not a fan of pressed sandwiches, you’ve still got loads of freezable sandwich fillings to choose from for your ‘raw’ freezer sandwiches:
BEST Freezable Sandwich Fillings / What Freezes Well
- Spreads & Condiments: nut butters, jelly, hummus, pesto, mustard, honey
- Cheeses: FULL-FATsliced cheese, cream cheese
- Proteins: sliced deli meat, cooked meat, bacon, canned tuna/salmon
What DOESN’T Freeze Well
- Spreads & Condiments: mayonnaise (tends to separate/crack after thawing, try cream cheese or yogurt instead!)
- Produce: tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, onions, apples, grapes, etc.
- Cheeses: LOW-FAT sliced cheese, cottage cheese
- Proteins: hard boiled eggs (esp. the cooked egg whites)
How to Freeze Sandwiches for Lunch Meal Prep
If you know how to assemble sandwiches, you pretty much already know how to freeze sandwiches for lunch meal prep. Just assemble, store, and freeze! It’s THAT easy-freezy.
Really, the main concerns with make ahead freezer sandwiches are knowing which freezable sandwich fillings to use, and how to layer them in the most freezer-friendly fashion.
So now, with your newfound freezer sandwiches knowledge, let’s walk through the process of how to freeze sandwiches for lunch with a few examples! Here, I’ll be showing you how to freeze a deli sandwich using turkey / ham and cheese, but you can use this same process with any meat and cheese you like.
Freezing Sandwiches RAW – Assembly Order for Deli Freezer Sandwiches
First, let’s break down how to freeze a deli sandwich if you don’t plan to grill before freezing. (Then, I’ll show you how to freeze sandwiches for lunch the even simpler way—and my favorite way!)
I’ve frozen sandwiches ‘raw’ for a Family Meal Prep in the past and it’s pretty dang simple, you just need to know the right assembly order:
- Start by laying out your bread of choice in pairs. Arrange as many pairs of bread slices as the number of frozen sandwiches you want to make. (To make 5 freezer sandwiches, lay out 10 slices of bread in pairs).
- Next, add sliced cheese to one bread slice in each pair and deli meat to the other bread slice in each pair. Do your best to cover the surface of the bread with the cheese/meat.
- Finally, add any desired spreads/condiments on top of the cheese and deli meat.
- Do NOT include produce (i.e. veggies, like tomatoes, lettuce, etc.) on deli freezer sandwiches that you plan to store raw. If desired, add fresh produce at the time of eating.
- Combine each pair of bread slices to assemble your freezer sandwiches and they’re ready to package & store!
Freezing Sandwiches COOKED – Assembly Order for GRILLED Deli Freezer Sandwiches
As mentioned earlier, I personally prefer to grill my make ahead freezer sandwiches before freezing them. I just think they’re plain tastier, there’s room for a bit more variety in my freezable sandwich fillings, and you don’t have to worry about the assembly order as much!
With pre-grilled frozen sandwiches, you don’t have to be so concerned about wet ingredients making the bread soggy since everything is getting cooked. But, for some guidance, here’s the assembly order I recommend for freezing sandwiches with deli meat and cheese:
- Lay out as many single slices of bread as the number of sandwiches you plan to assemble. (To make 10 freezer sandwiches, lay out 10 pieces of bread.) Think of these as the bottom slice of each sandwich.
- Next, add spreads/condiments directly onto the bread. For half of these make ahead freezer sandwiches I used pesto, for the other half I used yellow mustard.
- Layer deli meat of choice on top of spreads. I made some turkey sandwiches, and some ham sandwiches.
- Then, add any produce or veggies if desired, like sliced tomatoes. (Again, ONLY add produce if you plan to press/grill your freezer sandwiches before freezing!) For grilling, it helps to layer the produce between the meat and cheese, so it isn’t touching the bread.
- Finally, add sliced cheese of choice—I used Colby Jack and Swiss—followed by top bread slice.
Now, you’re ready to grill ‘em up/panini press ‘em down!
Preheat your panini press and add assembled sandwiches to heated grill. Press down for a few minutes, until as cooked as desired.
Allow to cool completely before packaging and freezing sandwiches.
Storing Make Ahead Freezer Sandwiches
Now that you know how to assemble ‘raw’ vs. grilled freezer sandwiches properly, let’s get into the actual process of how to freeze sandwiches for lunch once they’re made. It’s all about how you store them:
Store in airtight storage containers.
When it comes to freezing sandwiches and freezer meal prep in general, airtight containers are a must! The more air that is inside of a container with frozen food, the more likely it is to get freezer burn or develop ice crystals, which = sogginess. If using plastic or reusable silicone bags (shown below) for storage, be sure to remove as much air as possible from the bag before sealing.
Ideally, you want your containers to be freezer-safe.
Some storage options (like zip-top bags or reusable storage containers) will tell you it’s ‘freezer-safe’ on the packaging. If a storage container doesn’t specifically say it’s ‘freezer-safe,’ you can still use it—just know there might be a risk! (I.e. your freezer sandwiches don’t freeze properly, or the container cracks/breaks in the freezer.)
Wrap/store freezer sandwiches individually.
Option 1, store each individual sandwich in its own container.
Or option 2, to store multiple sandwiches in the same container, first wrap each sandwich individually in plastic wrap, foil, or reusable beeswax wraps (shown below). Then, you can store them together in a large freezer-safe bag, storage container, or even back in the original bread loaf bag.
Individual wrapping will help to keep your frozen sandwiches fresh, prevent freezer burn, and keep them separate in the freezer!
Use the type of storage containers that suits your lifestyle and budget.
There are many different types of storage containers out there—like plastic/glass reusable storage containers, plastic zip-top bags, reusable silicone bags, and even reusable beeswax wraps. And, there’s a LOT of debate about which type of storage containers to use—especially in terms of sustainability.
Check out the Target Meal Prep video to get my opinion on all of it, but my general advice is this: do the best you can!
Store your frozen sandwiches for school lunches or work lunches up to 2-3 months in the freezer!
And, especially if you plan to batch prep freezer sandwiches to keep on-hand for a month or more, I definitely recommend labeling your containers with the prep date.
Of course, even though these make ahead freezer sandwiches are literally designed for freezing, you can totally store them in the fridge if preferred. Whether they’re ‘raw’ or panini-pressed, these sandwiches will last 2-3 days in the fridge.
Defrosting Frozen Sandwiches for School Lunches
The day before you plan to eat your freezer sandwiches, transfer to the fridge to thaw overnight.
Or, if you plan to pack frozen sandwiches for school lunches or work lunches, you can transfer them directly from the freezer into the lunchbox that morning! By lunchtime, they should be thawed and ready to enjoy cold.
If your freezer sandwiches aren’t quite thawed to your liking, if they feel soggy, or if you just prefer a warm sandwich, they’re easy to reheat and revive!
- Grill up your ‘raw’ freezer sandwiches on the panini press.
- Toss pre-grilled sandwiches back onto the panini press to reheat.
- Pop your thawed freezer sandwiches into the toaster oven for a few minutes.
- Toast thawed sandwiches in a pan on the stove top until warmed through
Recipe Ideas: Frozen Sandwiches for School Lunches & Work Lunches
Remember, now that you know how to freeze sandwiches for lunch and which freezable sandwich fillings work best, you can come up with your own freezer sandwiches!
In case you need some inspiration, check out some of the make ahead freezer sandwiches that I’ve made in the past: