When I think of back to school I think of packed lunches and homework. I also think about my life getting busy as I head back to work. And if you're like me the best way to handle my crazy busy schedule is to make things as easy as possible. Sometimes that means making double dinners and freezing one for another time or in this case freezing a bunch of homemade Peanut Butter and Jelly uncrustables so that I can pack my lunch in as little time as possible. Let me just start by saying that Peanut Butter and Jelly is a staple in my house. Both of my children have at some point become self-proclaimed vegetarians so PBJ's and mac-and-cheese are favorites.
I used to buy Uncrustables, but with as many as we sometimes go through a week, it got a little pricey. So I invested in a $10 Pampered Chef Cut-N-Seal and started making my own. The beauty of making your own is that not only is it less expensive, but you can control everything from what type of peanut butter and jelly you use to the kind of bread. There's also a lot of flexibility with fillings depending on what your family prefers. I know if you're at home it's easy enough to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but sometimes its nice to grab one right from the freezer or from the refrigerator if you have the foresight to thaw them out. You can also stick them in the microwave for 10 seconds if you need a quick thaw.
First you start with your ingredients. I usually make a loaf of bread at a time, which will give you about 10 sandwiches, and freeze them in individual sandwich bags. They never stay in my freezer long enough to get freezer burnt, but you may want to store them in freezer bags. I have also wrapped individual sandwiches in parchment paper and put them in larger freezer bags, but then you still have to pack them in something else if you're sending them off in a lunchbox.
Back to the ingredients, you need a loaf of bread, peanut butter, jelly and the wonderful Cut-N-Seal. Now if you don't have a Cut-N-Seal, you can use a glass to cut the sandwiches into circles and use a fork to seal the edges together. Warning: I've never tried this, personally, but it sounds good right? Also, a note about the bread. You don't want to use fresh from the store bread. I usually buy my bread and let it sit on the counter 3 or 4 days before making the PBJs or sometimes I put it in the refrigerator. You want the bread to be a little firm. If the bread is too soft, it gets stuck in the Cut-N-Seal and can mangle your sandwich. Mangled PBJs are not cool.
Okay, back to the sandwiches. I like to assembly line the process. First I lay out all of the bread onto a large cutting board.
Next I put peanut butter in a circle on every piece of bread. Yes, you MUST put peanut butter on every piece. Did you ever get to the cafeteria when you were a kid only to discover that the jelly side of your PBJ had completely oozed into the bread, leaving your sandwich soggy and mushy? I had a lot of those as a kid, so I always, always, always seal my PBJ's with peanut butter on both sides. Even if they are for immediate consumption. Soggy, jelly bread, gross!
Next add a heaping teaspoon of the jelly of your choice onto the center of the peanut butter on one side of each set of sandwiches. You could also use honey or something else fun. I'm not a huge fan of Peanut Butter and Honey sandwiches, but my husband loves them.
Now you are ready to assemble, cut and seal. Begin this process by placing a peanut butter only slice of bread on top of each jelly slice of bread so it looks just like your average PBJ right? Next take the Cut-N-Seal and center it over the sandwich. Push down on the edges so the bread gets cut into a round circle, then push the knob down to seal the edges of the sandwich.
Carefully pull the Cut-N-Seal off the bread and Voila! You have yourself a professional looking Uncrustable. The first time I made them I was so excited that my sandwiches looked like store bought. I know, silly right?
Ah, I love it! So save yourself some time in the morning or before lunchtime and make some homemade Uncrustables. Enjoy your school year! I know I will, with a few extra minutes and PBJ in my lunchbox.