It’s Back-to-School season! Back to buses, after-school activities and packing lunches. But, do you ever feel like you’re in a rut with your kids lunches? ME! ME! I do! So, I’ve been trying a new way of making them and I wanted to share them with you in case you have this issue, too.
Rather than just sticking anything in a lunchbox, I try to consciously pick a protein in a main dish, a veg, a fruit and a snack. Sometimes, there are 2 vegetables, sometimes 2 fruits, sometimes a big snack… but there is always one of the 4 core items – protein in the main dish, veg, fruit, snack. This ensures the girls will have a balanced lunchbox that gives them energy to get through the day.
So, let’s talk specifics! These are the lunches I have on rotation:
- Deli meat (like turkey or roast beef) with hummus and spinach on Oatnut bread
- Veggie rollups (bread, cream cheese, spinach, peppers, carrots all rolled up)
- Cream cheese and jelly roll-ups
- Homemade muffins
- Cheese sandwich – can be cooked (like a grilled cheese or quesadilla) or uncooked
- Bagel and cream cheese
- Hard boiled (or scrambled) egg & yogurt
- Pasta with cheese (my kids don’t love sauce) – can just be pasta with parm cheese sprinkled on or mac & cheese bites
- Cheese (either a cheese stick or slices) and cracker sandwiches with hummus dip for veggies
- English muffin pizzas
- Wafflewich (any kind of sandwich made with store-bought or my homemade waffles)
- Pancake (these or these are my favorites, but I have lots of easy pancake recipes here)
- Peanut butter & jelly (this is dependent on the school and classroom)
- Bean salad
So, that’s over 10 different main lunches in rotation and I know these work because my kids never get bored eating their lunch! Just a note – I know some people also like to make hot dogs or chicken (nuggets) or anything with rice/quinoa/orzo for lunches, but I try to save those for dinnertime. And teachers have told me the later can be messy in school, so I just keep those at home for them to eat.
Ok, let’s move on to the vegetables and fruit.
Veggies in our house are raw – they go over better with my girls because they’re crunchy, not mushy. So we always have some combo of cucumbers, carrots, pea pods/peas, peppers (all colors) and spinach. I save the harder veggies, like cauliflower, for home.
For fruit, this tends to be easier for kids than veggies, so I have a variety based on whatever is in season – peaches, watermelon, apples, clementines, etc… Both fresh and dried (like raisins or mango) get mixed in, as well.
Snacks? Well what kid doesn’t eat snacks?! I think mine eat 239174238529053 in a day!!!! So, I keep the snacks small here since I know they want these when they come home from school.
Side note: Let me preface all the above by saying I know not every household has the luxury of always having all this on hand. I know we don’t have all this every week. This list is meant to be an all encompassing guide to some healthy lunchbox ideas that you can make for or with your kids when it works best for your family.
Back to the lunchboxes. I use the Yumbox Bento Boxes. I have 4 in rotation (2 one day, 2 the next day so I’m not washing and drying every single night). It helps with the meal prepping as well if I can make them all at once. These boxes are about $30 each. But I will tell you I’ve had them for over 3 years and have used them every single day since. They get a lot of use and really stand up to some tough wear-and-tear. I prefer these lunchboxes to those that have the ice pack build in because we use lunch bags that hold both the lunchbox and water bottle – I can use an ice pack in the lunch bag to keep both the lunchbox and water cold, which I like more. I also like the compartment dividers as well – I think they’re slightly bigger than other brands.
So, that’s it for how I make the girls lunches. I’ll keep updating this post with more pictures as I make more lunchboxes in the coming weeks and months.
Below is a quick summary of all the above! Let me know what your favorite kids lunches are in the comments below and I’ll add them to my rotation! Happy back-to-school!
The Easiest School Lunchboxes - Kid Approved!
- 1 main dish (see list above)
- 1-2 vegetables (see list above)
- 1-2 fruits (see list above)
- 1 snack (see list above)
- Choose one main, a combination or veggies and fruits and a snack to add to your child’s lunchbox each day. Keep an eye on what comes home uneaten and adjust moving forward. Enjoy the variety!