Of course the type of these components can vary greatly, so take a look at some smart and savory sandwiches that are healthy in a hurry.
Chef Jeanne Kelley, author of "Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes," makes sandwich meals for as little as $1-3. According to Kelley, you'll get dinner on the table fast and cheap starting with a sassy sounding Tartine.
"If you call your egg salad sandwich a Tartine, you're going to get a little more play out of it and no one's going to sit down at the table and say, 'hey this is an egg salad sandwich for dinner,'" said Kelley.
Basically an open-faced sandwich, theTartine features hardboiled eggs with tomato, red onion, capers and basil on whole wheat sourdough bread. At 25 cents each, eggs are a cheap and healthy protein.
Some like it hot so put the toaster oven to work. Avoid heating up the oven and your kitchen.
Paninis are fun too. If you don't own a Panini maker, Kelley says you can use a foil wrapped brick in a skillet or try your waffle iron.
Kelley made a Croque Monsieur - a broiled ham and Gruyere cheese sandwich with a Bechamel sauce, which consists of a little flour, milk and cheese, then toasted until brown.
To fancy up the tried and true, a smoked turkey, Jarlsberg cheese sandwich gets a lift with sliced apples, lettuce and a Spicy Mayo made with Sriracha sauce, easily found at most major markets.
Of course all of these combinations work alongside some greens with a tart dressing to add some produce and keep your family feeling full.
About anything goes with a sandwich. Let your family pull out what's in the meat and crisper drawers along with a host of condiments. Dinner can be ready in a snap. Leftovers might just be tomorrow's mid-day meal.
"People think nothing of spending $6-12 on their lunches. But when you make a sandwich and pack it from home take a piece of fruit, maybe bring some juice, you're going to be spending less than $4," said Kelley.
Want the recipes? Jeanne Kelley lays it out along with what you will save in having sandwich night.
Smoked Turkey and Jarlsberg Sandwiches with Apples and Spicy Sriracha Mayonnaise
Yield: 4 sandwiches
This sandwich is sweet, smoky, nutty and spicy. It holds well, making it great to pack in lunches. Sriracha hot sauce, sometimes called "rooster sauce" because of the rooster on the bottle, is a thick hot sauce made from red jalapenos. A good brand is made by the Huy Fong Company, which was started in a small Los Angeles kitchen by a Vietnamese immigrant in 1980. The sauce quickly became hugely popular here and shows up on tables in Asian as well as Mexican restaurants. I love to make a spicy mayo with it.
1/2 cup preferably organic mayonnaise
1 generous tablespoon Sriracha hot chili sauce
8 Slices whole wheat, rye or sourdough bread
8 ounces thinly sliced smoked turkey
6 ounces thinly sliced Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese
2 small Golden delicious apples, cored, thinly sliced
8 small leaves green leaf lettuce
Mix the mayonnaise and chili sauce in a small bowl. Spread the bread slices with a thin layer of the mayonnaise. Top four slices of bread with the turkey, cheese and apple slices, dividing the slices evenly. Top each sandwich with two lettuce leaves. Arrange the mayonnaise slicked bread slices atop lettuce. Slice the sandwiches in half.
Chopped Egg Salad Tartine
Yield: 4 Tartines
Less than $1 each
Don't stir the egg salad too much -- this is best chunky.
1 tablespoon preferably organic mayonnaise
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 garlic clove, pressed
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled, quartered and sliced
1/2 cup (1 small) tomato, diced
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or Italian parsley
4 slices whole wheat sour dough toast
Stir the first four ingredients to blend in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, tomato, red onion, capers and basil. Stir gently, just to combine. Season the salad with salt and pepper. Divide the salad among the toasts, dividing evenly.
Yield: 4 sandwiches
This is a French café favorite. Pair the open-faced, broiled sandwiches with a green salad for a complete meal. This recipe makes enough Bechamel (white sauce) for four sandwiches. You can make the sauce in the morning or the day before and assemble and broil the sandwiches as needed.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup cold milk
1 preferably fresh bay leaf
1/4 cup packed grated Gruyere
4 Slices pain au levain (crusty country-style French bread), lightly toasted
1 cup packed grated Gruyere
1/4 pound thinly sliced Black Forest ham
For Sauce: melt the butter in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly 1 minute. (Do not brown the flour.) Add the milk all at once and the bay leaf. Whisk to combine. Stir the sauce until it thickens and just comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese and a light grating of fresh nutmeg. Cool slightly. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead; cover and refrigerate.)
For Sandwiches: Spread each piece of toast with a layer of the sauce (about 1 generous tablespoonful). Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the cheese over sauce on each toast. Arrange ham slices atop the cheese. Spread a thick layer of the sauce over ham and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Broil until the cheese melts and a few brown spots appear. Transfer the sandwiches to plates and serve with a fork and knife.
"Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes"