School is almost back in session, which means lunch box packing is probably on your mind. It should be easy, but often feels like a hassle and is rushed the morning of. We want to help you prepare healthy, but also fun school lunches. Here are 10 lunch box ideas that you can easily recycle every few weeks. Of course, don’t forget to ask your kids for lunch ideas as well. Getting them involved in the options means they are more likely to eat it!
1. Homemade Spaghettios!
Spaghettios may have been a favorite of yours as a child, but let’s be honest they aren’t the healthiest choice. Prepare crockpot spaghettios for Saturday dinner and then save enough to warm up for Monday’s lunch. Purchase a quality thermos, like this one that is even dishwasher safe, to send to school. Green salad often goes with pasta, but if your child doesn’t like salad then send this delicious cucumber watermelon salad on the side.
2. Yogurt Parfait!
Grab a container with upper and lower sections. Put the yogurt on the bottom and in the top put different toppings for the yogurt parfait. Some topping options could be: granola, strawberries, sliced almonds, and shredded coconut.
3. Banana Sushi Roll Up
This one is a favorite at our house! Lay out a tortilla, whole wheat for added nutrients. Spread half (or all) with peanut butter and half with Nutella. Place a banana on the tortilla and roll it up tightly. Then, cut it into slices and serve with veggies and dip! If your child’s school doesn’t allow peanut butter try Sunbutter or WowButter for the closest taste to real peanut butter.
4. Hummus, Pita, & Veggies
Pack a healthy meal quickly using this 5 compartment, leak proof lunch container. Include strawberries, hummus, pita (or crackers), cucumber, pepper, and carrot sticks for dipping. Slip it into a lunch box with a granola bar for snack and off they go!
5. Mini Corn Dogs & Fruit Salad
We love making these for parties, but they are also great to prep after the kids go to bed or over the weekend. These corn dogs are delicious and fun to eat! Send along a prepared fruit salad and dried snap pea crisps.
6. Race Car Sandwich!
A simple sandwich is totally acceptable to pack for lunch as well. You can make it more fun by using a cookie cutter to shape it into a favorite item, such as a car. A tip for sandwiches: if making turkey and cheese, put the ham against the bread and the cheese and mayo (or mustard) in the middle so that it doesn’t get soggy. You can also do this for peanut butter and jelly; put the peanut butter on the two sides of bread and jelly in the middle. Other sandwich options are BLTs, tunafish, chicken salad, egg salad, or avocado caprese! Be sure to add some yummy sides such as veggie straws, pear slices, fig newtons, ants on a log, edamame, peanut butter pretzels, or a clementine.
7. Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken
This one is easy to prepare ahead and bring to work for yourself as well! For Sunday’s lunch or dinner grill up some chicken and prepare a pasta salad loaded with vegetables. Add feta cheese and/or chickpeas for extra protein to this great pasta salad recipe! On Monday or Tuesday send the leftovers. The grilled chicken can be cold or kept warm in a thermos. Pack some applesauce for an easy fruit addition.
8. Quiche Cup and Melon
Quiche cups are so easy to make ahead and even freeze for the future. You can make many at once in muffin tins, adding a favorite vegetable and some cheese (be sure to oil the pan for easy removal). Any ingredients will work, such as eggs, cheese, ham, and broccoli. Or you could mix eggs, cheese, bacon, and spinach. Try these recipes to get started. Add some melon on the side and perhaps a grain such as organic mini pancakes or waffles. Remember to send a thermos to keep the quiche warm until lunch time.
9. Fancy Cheese Plate
Who said you have to always pack a sandwich? You just need the main food groups to give your child a boost of energy for the rest of the day. In a sorted container, serve grapes, sliced cheddar cheese, salami, olives, and if your child is adventures maple mustard spread. Put crackers in a separate container so they don’t get soggy.
10. Cream Cheese & Cucumber Sandwich
This one reminds me of tea parties as a child. Thinly slice cucumber and place a few inside of whole wheat bread with cream cheese. For added flavor add bacon crumbles or Trader Joe’s everything seasoning. Offer fruit, such as plum, and Annie’s organic bunny crackers on the side for additional choices.
Alright, there you have it! These 10 creative lunch box ideas will give you two weeks of no-thought lunch prep. For additional ideas to spread out over the month, try these ideas! Prepare as much as you can the night before and ask the kids to grab a snack out of the pantry to throw in if their class has morning snack time. If you have a childcare provider, such as a nanny, coming in the morning ask her to come 15-30 minutes early so you have time to prep your and your child’s lunch without someone tugging on your pant leg.
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About The Author
Kelsey Dickson has over 15 years of experience working with children as a nanny, preschool teacher, and now a mother. She has her degree in Early Childhood Education and works for Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny as the eLearning Manager. Check out our online childcare classes, such as Baby Sign Language and Sleep Coaching 101! In her free time she enjoys gardening with her son, going for walks with her husband and dog, and discovering local wineries in New England.