It’s the most wonderful time of the year — back to school! As parents prepare to buy pencils, markers, notebooks, paper, and more, they also need to gear up for those school nutrition breaks.
Below are some easy — and delicious — ideas for your kid’s lunch bag that will have them looking forward to heading back to that classroom.
Looking for a new twist on an old lunch box favorite?
Rather than layer sandwich ingredients in the traditional way, simply place them on a skewer. Not only will your kids still enjoy the nutrients of this balanced lunchtime meal, but they’ll have fun eating through it.
For more flavor, add some ranch dressing in a side container for dipping.
- A skewer to place ingredients on
- A slice of whole-wheat bread
- Cheddar cheese
- Cucumber slices
- Grape tomatoes
2. Ham, Apple, and Cheddar Sliders
Sometimes portion size can intimidate younger eaters — especially those picky ones in the family — which makes these mini sandwiches such a hit.
This recipe calls for black forest ham, sharp cheddar, layered with crispy sliced apples on those sweet Hawaiian rolls. However, you can really add in your child’s favorite deli meats, cheeses, and fruits or veggies for this lunchtime win.
- Half an apple or one apple
- Hawaiian sweet rolls
- Four ounces of sharp cheddar
- Four ounces of sliced black forest ham
3. Ants on a Log
This yummy and healthy treat makes a perfect snack. The best part is that your kids can also help make it.
While the recipe does call for peanut butter, those parents that need to follow nut-free school guidelines can use cream cheese as an alternative and craisins can also act as substitutes for raisins.
- Five stalks of celery
- Half cup of peanut butter
- Quarter cup of raisins
4. Salami and Mozzarella Pasta Salad
Cover all four major food groups with this tasty and balanced pasta salad. It’s packed with flavors that will have your child begging for this to be placed in their lunch every day.
Whip up a big batch and freeze it in portions for lunches in the weeks ahead. You may even want to pack it in your own lunch!
- Two cups of pasta
- One cup of grape tomato
- Two cups of chopped spinach
- Two ounces of salami
- Four ounces of mozzarella
- One tbsps. of white wine vinegar
- Three tbsps. of olive oil
- Dash of salt and pepper
5. Lasagna Soup
Lunch-preparing parents require at least one to two thermos options for those cold and wet school days.
This one is a hit with kids because it looks like lasagna, yet tastes like pizza. Plus, it’s easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy for parents to make.
- Three cups of chicken broth or stock
- Two cups of tomato sauce
- Two cups of water
- Two tsps. of chopped fresh oregano or Quarter tsp of dried oregano
- Three tbsps. of pepperoni sausage
- Three cups of broad egg noodles
- 18 meatballs
6. Kid’s Trail Mix
Finding interesting and healthy snacks can be a struggle for moms and dads filling up those lunch totes. However, this trail mix is sure to be an instant hit.
Even better, all you have to do is throw all the ingredients in a sealed container, shake, and you have an instant lunch snack.
- One cup of Cheerios (any flavor or type will do)
- One cup of goldfish crackers
- One cup of their favorite dried fruit
- One cup of M&Ms or a similar chocolate treat
- One cup of chocolate chips, peanut butter, or butterscotch
- One cup of pretzel sticks or mini pretzels
While most believe quesadillas can only be eaten hot, truth is, they make a healthy, delicious, and easy go-to for school lunches. You can also pack some sliced avocados, pineapple chunks, and a handful of tortilla chips for a Mexican-themed lunch!
And don’t forget the salsa on the side for dipping.
- Two cups of cooked chicken
- Two tsps. of vegetable oil or butter
- Four large flour tortillas
- Two cups of shredded cheese
- Plenty of veggies to place within
8. Banana Berry Smoothie
While smoothies can get a little messy, there’s plenty to like. They are easy to make and store, can be placed in the freezer or refrigerator, and are packed with so many vitamins. Plus, they are delicious, and kids go crazy over them!
To avoid spilling, you’ll want to invest in a good-quality container to avoid spillage. Plus, a straw or spoon for your child to consume that yumminess at school.
- One banana
- Two-thirds cup of frozen mixed berries
- One-third cup of Greek yogurt
- Two tsps. of chia seeds
- Two tsps. of honey
- One and a half cups of milk
9. PBJ Kids Sushi
This is a fun sushi alternative that is quick and easy to make and ups your peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich game a notch or two.
Simply spread that PB&J on a whole-wheat tortilla, roll it up, and then slice it up to resemble sushi. Add some fruit and chocolate syrup on the side for dipping.
If your child attends a nut-free school, you can use an allergy-safe substitute.
- One whole-wheat tortilla
- Two tbsps. of peanut butter
- Two tbsps. of favorite jelly/jam
10. Strawberry Roll-Ups
This is such a healthier alternative than buying the processed candied snacks found in stores. Best of all, the prep time is a mere 15 minutes. Still, the baking will take about three to four hours.
Having said that, they are worth the wait!
- 16 ounces of strawberries with the stems removed
- One of lemon juice
- Two of sugar
- Half a tsp. of vanilla
11. Homemade Hummus with Pita
Kids love dipping, so there is nothing more fun at lunchtime than homemade hummus with cut-up pitas, carrots, peppers, or cucumbers to dip. It’s simple, easy, quick to prepare, and a favorite among little lunch bags nowadays.
- Three cups of canned chickpeas
- Half a tsp. of salt
- Quarter tsp. of pepper
- Two large garlic cloves
- Two tsps. of ground cumin
- Quarter cup of extra-virgin olive oil
- Quarter cup of lemon juice
- Half cup of water
12. Mac ‘n’ Cheese Bites
Mac ‘n’ cheese is comfort food for many. This twist on a childhood dinner favorite offers bite-sized portions that are perfect to send for lunch.
Do up a batch of these cheesy pasta nuggets on a Sunday afternoon and then freeze them to enjoy a nice go-to grab when you are out of lunch ideas mid-week.
- Kosher salt
- Half an lb. of cooked macaroni
- Four ounces of cream cheese
- Half cup of heavy cream
- Two large eggs
- One of yellow mustard
- One small clove garlic, finely grated
- Half a tsp. of sweet paprika
- One cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- One cup of shredded mild Cheddar
- Two of breadcrumbs
- One of unsalted butter
Packing lunches can be a daily struggle. However, with a few new quick and easy ideas — along with some recipes you may already have — getting your kids ready for those school nutrition breaks will be a breeze this school year.