7 Ways to Make Your Sandwich Low-Cal, Healthy, and Budget Friendly (Bonus: There’s a low-fat baked green tomato recipe included!)

Nothing beats the convenience of a sandwich for an easy on-the-go meal.

With no measuring, weighing, or counting, a sandwich can be a dieter’s best friend.

Especially when it’s stuffed with healthy, low-cal ingredients.

Another plus?

Sandwiches can be budget friendly and feed big families.

Sandwich Benefits
You’ve seen how those ready to microwave, low calorie food meals help with weight-loss.

But you don’t like the price… especially if you’re feeding more than one.

A sandwich is not only cheaper, it offers other perks, too:

  • It’s a compact meal that’s easy at home or on the go.
  • It’s easy, and quick, to prepare.
  • It can be customized for each family member.
  • It makes calorie counting a snap; just a quick tally and you know how many calories you’re eating.
  • It’s easy on the wallet; you can buy ingredients in bulk, making meals cheaper.

And with one quick grocery trip, you can buy enough sandwich making supplies for a week of meals.

How’s that for convenience?

Look at more benefits:

  • It’s cheaper than eating out.
  • It saves time on meal preparation.
  • It prevents wasted leftovers you might just throw in the trash.
  • It’s a low-cost solution to calorie counting vs. pre-packaged frozen meals.
  • With the right ingredients, it’s a healthy low-cal meal that provides all the nutrition you need.

So, here’s the big question: How can sandwiches be more nutritious and still be yummy?

And here’s your answer.

Try the following tips for a quick, nutritious, low-cal sandwich:

1) Choose Bread Wisely
Thank goodness, we have more than white Wonder® Bread on the market now.

Bread varieties are amazing! You can choose from white, rye, wheat, pumpernickel, potato, oat, and more.

Plus, it comes in all sizes and shapes; that makes choosing even easier.

But, even though that’s great, it poses another problem; some of those breads are waaaayyyyyy too high in calories.

Plus, some of them are super-sized.

Not good when it comes to calorie reduction.

So, you have to be careful. And read labels.

When buying bread, you can make it easier by looking for these two things:

1.      One hundred percent whole wheat bread, rye bread, or pumpernickel.

2.      The calorie content should be 60 calories, or less, per slice. (So, for example, one bun shouldn’t be any more than 120 calories.)

If you do that, you don’t even have to worry about the bread; just the ingredients.

Look at these good bread choices:

  • Sandwich thins that are 100 calories per serving.
  • Thin breads that are 40 calories per slice (available in wheat and other varieties).
  • Whole wheat hamburger buns that are 120 calories, or less, each.
  • Small whole-wheat pita pockets that are 100 calories or less. (Be careful here. Check the label carefully; it often gives the calorie count for one half of the loaf, instead of the whole pita.)
  • Look for low-carb flour tortillas available now; they make a yummy wrap for less calories and carbs.

Here’s a budget tip: Look for healthy store brands. They’re cheaper than national brands but offer the same great taste.

And many store brands are less than two bucks; that’s around 30 cents per bun for six buns. Can’t beat that, especially for a large family.

2) Skip Creamy High-Calorie Condiments
Skip These:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Creamy full-fat dressings
  • Creamy horseradish sauce
  • Oil based dressings

Try these, instead:

  • Mustard-based condiments
  • Light vinaigrettes
  • Flavored vinegars
  • Squirt of fresh citrus juice
  • Fat-free / Low fat dressings
  • No oil dressings
  • Ketchup
  • Cocktail sauce
  • Horseradish mixed with fat-free sour cream
  • Salsa, red or green

Sandwiches will never be boring, with so many condiments available. (Woo-hoo!)

And you can get creative… I love making my own condiments and toppings.

And, yes, condiments can be a bit pricey, BUT remember, they’ll top lots of sandwiches.

Look for store brands, too; they’ll be a little cheaper. And when you make your own, make extra and store it for later.

3) Reduced Fat or Fat-Free Cheese
It’s lower in fat but not flavor. Look for:

  • Real cheese that’s reduced fat (50-60 calories per slice)
  • Extra thin cheese slices (less than 50 calories per slice)
  • 25 Calorie single cheese triangles (great sandwich spreads)
  • Fat-free cream cheese singles

Another bonus? Low-fat and fat-free cheeses are lower in cholesterol.

What? You don’t like cheese prices?

Here’s a tip to save $: Buy cheese when it’s on sale and freeze it.

If it’s wrapped/stored properly, it should last up to six months. More bang for your buck!

4) Lean Nitrate-Free Meat
We’ve all heard that added nitrates in meats might be harmful to your health. So, it’s probably best to avoid them whenever possible.

If you can’t, then eat them in moderation.

But choose lean deli meats over high fat choices.

Turkey, and chicken, are good choices.

And you can also buy lower fat roast beef and even ham.

But, SKIP these: Fatty meats such as pastrami, pepperoni, and salami.

And do you love hot dogs?

I’m from the South, and they’re still a favorite of folks.

But, it’s a good idea to opt for these hot dog choices:

  • Nitrate-free dogs
  • Turkey dogs
  • Low-fat all beef dogs (If you just have to have beef.)

The turkey dogs, and lower-fat choices, will give you waaaaayyyyy less fat/calories than regular hot dogs.

And, yes, they’re more expensive, but not when you consider:

1. You can feed your whole family on one pack (in most cases).

2. Your family’s health.

Want to reduce the sodium content in your deli meats?

You can rinse the slices under water, and then pat them dry between two sheets of paper towels.

Are you a vegetarian?

Or reducing your meat consumption?

Then you can substitute the reduced fat cheese for the meat, if you want. That’ll also give you protein you need.

And you won’t be sacrificing flavor.

Savings tip: You can also buy meats in bulk and freeze; just make sure it’s wrapped properly.

I checked, and deli meat should last up to two months in the freezer.

That’s great for your budget.

5) Not Just Ho-Hum Lettuce
Lettuce might be your normal go-to for your sandwiches, but why don’t you try something different that’s healthier?

Instead, try these yummy options:

  • Broccoli sprouts
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Clover sprouts
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Red Cabbage (Try marinating some slices in fat-free dressing before adding it.)

These add different flavors, and textures, for very few calories. And more nutritional benefits.

6) Tasty Veggie Additions

These veggie additions are healthy, low in fat and calories, and add variety.

Try one (or all) of these yummy options on your sandwich:

  • Try using a vegetable peeler to add fresh beets and carrots.
  • Add some thin slices of radish, or fresh mushrooms, for more flavor, with practically no calories.
  • Add a few tasty olives (black, green, or stuffed with pimentos, garlic, or onion).
  • Add healthy red onion slices. (I’ve read they have more antioxidants than white ones.) Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, add both.
  • Add a little sauerkraut; it’s healthy and yummy.
  • Try different varieties of sliced red, yellow, orange, and green peppers.
  • Add some fresh slices of jalapeno for a little kick.
  • Add 2 or 3 slices of fresh avocado (go easy; it’s healthy but a little high in calories)
  • You can also add a juicy, flavorful, thick slice of tomato; you can choose from red, orange, or yellow varieties.


You can bake up some low-fat “fried” green tomato slices to spice up your sammie.

(Here’s a quick recipe.)

Healthier “Baked” Fried Green Tomato Recipe (for your sandwich or just to munch on)


•          2 large green tomatoes

•          ¾ cup all-purpose whole-wheat flour

•          ½ teaspoon salt

•          1/4 teaspoon pepper

•          1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt (Greek or regular)

•          1/4 cup skim milk

•          3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (or Panko bread crumbs)

•          Olive oil cooking spray


Step 1: Slice tomatoes 1/8 inch thick.

Step 2: On a large plate mix flour, salt, and pepper. Mix yogurt and milk together in a separate bowl, and put bread crumbs on a third plate.

Step 3: Coat tomatoes with the flour mixture, then the yogurt – milk mixture, then coat with the bread crumbs.

Step 4: Place coated tomatoes on a cookie sheet and spray liberally with cooking spray on both sides. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 7-10  minutes per side (depending on your oven).

Step 5: Remove from oven. Add the tomatoes to your sandwich. (YUM!)

Budget Tip: If you can’t grow these in your own garden, let your gardening lovin’ friends know that you’d love to take their extra veggies. (At some point, they’ll get tired of canning and be ready to give them away!)

7) Salt Alternatives

Instead of using salt, try a salt-free alternative.

Or you can try toppings, like these, for added flavor:

  • Black pepper or other pepper varieties
  • Herbs, such as oregano, cilantro, parsley, and basil
  • Hot pepper flakes
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder

Or, hey, just leave your sandwich naked; you’ll experience the flavors of all the fresh ingredients.

Whatever ingredients you choose, you won’t be bored.

With so many healthy ingredients on the market nowadays, you could easily eat a different sandwich for every meal.

Every. Single. Day.

Now, do you want something to go with it?

When a Sandwich Isn’t Enough

You can add a low-calorie side that won’t destroy your calorie budget.

But chew on this thought: You need to add smart sides, without second helping temptations; just like you’re doing with your sandwich.

Forget about huge sides with lots of servings; that  makes it hard to measure/count your calories!

And can you really resist a second helping?

It’s so much easier to choose a side with an easy calorie count. An individual side.

How to choose sides:

  1. Choose sides that are one whole serving (like one apple or one steamed piece of squash).
  2. Choose sides that are packaged as single servings.
  3. Choose sides that are so low in calories, you can eat as much as you want; you can try celery, thinly sliced cucumber slices, or lettuce topped with flavored vinegar.

Try these sides with your sammie:

o   One apple, pear, or orange.

o   One single serving of prepared fruit, such as diced peaches, pineapple, mandarin oranges, mixed fruit, raisins, or applesauce.

o   One bag/serving of 100-calorie nuts.

o   One microwavable single-serving, low-calorie soup.

o   Sliced carrots, radishes, and bell pepper slices.

o   Low-fat dill pickles or sweet pickles (sweetened with Splenda®).

o   One small cucumber, sliced thin and marinated in flavored vinegar.

o   One single serving of reduced calorie chips or pretzels (buy the single pre-packaged servings, so you won’t be tempted to eat a whole bag!)

o   One individual packaged serving of low-fat cottage cheese. (Tip: Make it better by adding some diced celery, chopped onion, and one teaspoon of fat-free/light mayo.)

Healthy sandwiches, combined with a single serving side can be your ticket to healthy, easy weight-loss (that’s budget friendly, too).

Who knows? You might become hooked on this healthy, convenient way of eating.

A bonus might be a lower number on the scale.

AND more savings in your piggy bank :).