School Lunch Ideas
Now that schools getting back in session it’s time to talk about lunches!
Do your kids like to eat school lunch? Maybe it’s not in the budget, or you’d rather make their lunch. Whatever the reason is, we’ve got lots of fun school lunch ideas for you.
When my kids were younger, school lunch wasn’t in our budget for everyday, not that they loved eating it anyway. There were a few lunches they really enjoyed though. So when the lunch calendar came home each month my kids would look through it and pick 2 or 3 meals they’d like to eat that month. They would then write their name on the calendar on the days they’d chosen so I knew who I was making a lunch for on which days. I was always happy when they all chose the same day, though it didn’t happen often.
Mornings always seem to be busy getting kids out the door with clean faces, hair done, & lunch in hand. To make it a little easier to pack lunches, do as much as you can the night before. If you need to add in cold or warm items in the morning that’s great.
We have two baskets full of lunch items in the pantry. One is snacks (chips, pretzels, crackers, popcorn etc) and the other is treats (fruit snacks, cookies, etc). There are also small baskets in the fridge with string cheese, hard boiled eggs (peel them right after you cook them), cheese cubes, fruits and veggies.
When it comes time to pack up lunches the kids pick one snack, one treat, and a couple fridge items to add to their lunch. We throw in the main item and a drink and they’re ready to go.
A favorite lunch at our house is leftovers. If we’re having something for dinner that I know my kids really like, I make enough to have some for lunches. From spaghetti and garlic bread, to teriyaki chicken, or even tacos. The easiest way to do this is portion things out as you clean up dinner. For example, when you’re cleaning up your tacos, portion out a little lettuce and cheese in a baggie or container and place in the fridge ready to go.
First thing you need to do is prep your thermos and heat your food. I fill the thermos with extra hot water (can be boiling), place the lid on and let it sit 5+ minutes while you’re heating the food. This will get the interior hot and will help food stay warmer longer. If you’re going to be using the thermos for cold items, it can be placed in the fridge (lid off) the night before, or filled with ice water for 5+ minutes. These steps do make a difference in food temperature. Your thermos is ready for you to place the taco meat in the prepped thermos, and the taco shells and toppings go in baggies. When my kids do soft tacos they add some sour cream to the tortilla before rolling it up and placing it in a bag. Add a piece of fruit and lunch is ready!
Just like you and I get tired of eating the same thing day after day, or even once a week, kids do too! Switching things up just a bit can make a big difference. Try a different type of jam (if they’re not set on one kind). Switch it to a wrap instead of a sandwich. Let them help make their lunch and have a choice in what they’re eating (within reason).
With your help we came up with a great list of lunch ideas. For my kids, I would print off a copy for each of them. Similarly to the lunch calendar I had them circle what items they liked. Then I knew when making lunches what each one liked. They still don’t understand why I can’t remember what all five kids (and now in laws) like and don’t. Someday when they’re parents they’ll understand.
Try using a sandwich cutter, or cutting a wrap in slices to make things more fun. When you heat up a hotdog cut it in two to fit in the thermos, then cut the bun in two also. Cutting apples in slices or chunks make them easier to eat. To keep them from browning simply rinse them off (focusing on the cut area) and place them in your baggie.
Another big time saver is prepping what you can to freeze. I’m sure you’ve seen uncrustables in the freezer section, you can make your own. Spread a little pnut butter on both slices of bread, add some jam, place in a baggie and it’s ready for the freezer.
This also works with lunch meats and cheese. Layer them up and toss in the freezer, just don’t add the condiments yet. We throw in a squeeze packet of mayo to add before eating.
Baking and Sundays just seem to go together at our house. We portion out lunch servings in baggies and place those is the freezer also. This works with items not homemade also. Buy larger packs at Costco and divide for the freezer. Helps us not over eat the treats, and adds to the lunch ideas.
Pin this post to find it later. Then you’ll want to print the list, but don’t stop there. As you read through the list and other items come to your mind, add them to your list. Next, add them to the comments below so we can update our list with even more ideas! We’ll update as more ideas come in.