I got the Italian bread in the reduced section for 89 cents. it doesn’t need to be fresh bread because it is going to be toasted anyway. If you have homemade bread that is going stale, you can use that just as well. This also works with toasted English muffins, leftover hoagie rolls, or flatbread/tortillas/pitabread. Just use what you have and is inexpensive – whole grain of course. I like to toast the bread first just a little to firm it up; just the time it takes for the oven to heat up is plenty ( or about 5 minutes on 350F – just barely getting some color). If I have a little more time I spread it with butter and garlic before toasting, but this works either way.
Sauce can be homemade or jar. Our store brand sauce has no added sweeteners and is low salt. It also comes in jars so you don’t have to worry about BPA in cans. If you have picky kids you can boost the nutrition with pureed carrot or sweet potato and some extra tomato paste. You can spread it on the bread or make cheesy bread with the sauce on the side for dipping.
Cheese – either get preshredded on sale or shred your own. I get mozzarella if I’m shredding it or Italian blend if I get preshred. If you need a nondairy substitute it will work too.
If you have them on hand you can add toppings: pepperoni, cooked and crumbled hamburger or Italian sausage, sauteed onions, peppers, and mushrooms; whatever you have and your family will eat. This is a good place to use leftover chicken or meatballs or even breakfast sausage. The point is to be quick and easy.
Since everything is already cooked, you just need to melt the cheese, so you can do this in a 350F oven. I like to line a baking sheet with parchment for easy and quick clean up. Five to ten minutes should do the jobs; just watch that your cheese doesn’t get too brown (at least for kids, my mom and I like it a little browned). If you got a long baguette, cut the long roll into slices and serve. You can have salad or a dish of pineapple chunks with this for a more balanced meal.
This also makes an easy party dish; just cut the bread first and let everyone make their own. (on paper plates, of course )
PS: Kids really love building their own, even when it isn’t a party.