How to Make a Norwegian Matpakke (packed lunch)

Norwegian packed lunch

How to Make a Norwegian Matpakke (packed lunch)

Norwegian packed lunch

A Norwegian matpakke is a traditional packed lunch commonly enjoyed by people of all ages in Norway. It is a simple and convenient way to bring a meal from home to school, work, or outdoor activities.

Matpakke translates to “food package” in English, and it typically consists of a combination of brødskiver (open-faced sandwiches), with various pålegg (toppings.

Read on and you’ll learn what we typically put on top of our brødskiver in Norway, what you need in order to wrap them up, and how to do it.

Norwegian packed lunch
A Norwegian Matpakke

Growing up with Matpakke

As most kids in Norway I grew up bringing a matpakke to school every day. Not just elementary school, but also for high school and university. The difference is that the first years my mother made it for me, until at some point I started making it myself every morning.

It becomes almost like a tradition, a morning ritual which you have to perform every day.

In Norway schools don’t serve any hot lunch or other kinds of food, so unless you want to spend a fortune buying food at a supermarket, the matpakke is an affordable way to enjoy lunch.

Back in the day it was the same for the workplace, no food was served, so Norwegians brought their lunch with them. Today many companies have a cantina, but still a lot of workers will prefer a home made matpakke over a hot meal. After all those school years it’s a habit which is hard to brake.

Open faced sandwiches from Norway

What kind of toppings?

Pålegg or topping, is an important part of the packed lunch tradition. After all it would be quite boring to just eat a bunch of slices of bread.

Some typical toppings can be:

In general we prefer things that don’t make a mess. So it’s not so typical to put a lot of mayonnaise, ketchup or other liquid stuff inside. Trust me, you want to keep it simple!

Norwegian open face sandwiches

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What do you need to wrap one?

There are two essential items you need if you want to make a proper matpakke, and especially if you want to wrap one like I do in this article.


These are sheets of paper to put in between the open face sandwiches. Mellomleggspapir actually translates to “in between paper”.


You can buy these in any supermarket in Norway, and they are super cheap and come in packages of  500 pieces so they’ll last for quite a while.

I’d say these are quite important, since you don’t want the brødskiver (slices of bread) to stick to each other. Why not just make a regular closed sandwich you might say? Well that is a good questions, but it’s just not the tradition here. Personally I feel like there is just too much bread when you put to slices together, and to compensate for that you need to put more onto the sandwich, and then it looses the simplicity and might also be more messy. It’s a never ending discussion 😉


This is the paper you use to wrap the brødskiver in. It basically translates to “packed lunch paper”. Its also something you find in any Norwegian supermarket, and would resemble to what many would know as “waxed paper” (moisture-proof and grease-proof paper).

Can I use a lunch box? Of course you can! But then you won’t get the fun of wrapping the sandwiches, which I will explain in the next section…

How to make the Matpakke?

This is the FUN part! Start by slicing up bread and putting on desired pålegg (topping). Anything goes, but try not to put too much on top as it will become a mess.

Packed lunch from Norway

Now take the open-faced sandwiches and stack them on top of each other with a layer of the mellomleggspapir in between. Usually 3-4 brødskiver (sandwiches) should be enough, but if you are hungry make a bigger one.

Pull off a pretty long sheet of paper from the waxed paper. You need to be able to roll it 3-4 times around the sandwiches. You can see a short video of how it is made on my Facebook or YouTube.

That’s it! If you followed these instructions you’ve just made a Norwegian matpakke. Now put it in your bag our rucksack and bring it to school or work.

Enjoy! I hope you found this article interesting. Please share it with anyone you might think would be interested.

Tusen takk! Thank you!

Your friend in Norway,


Pål of Norway With Pål

Pål of Norway With Pål

Norway native, veteran travel guide, sailor, filmmaker, and writer (you might have seen me in one of Rick Steves’ guidebooks!). I want to help you enjoy Norway the right way — like a local. Learn more about me.

DISCLAIMER: Products on this page may contain affiliate links, and I might make a small sum per purchase. For you this does not affect the product price, but supports me and my work, and makes me able to continue sharing my passion for Norway with you. Read the Disclaimer policy. Thank you, tusen takk!

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