By Tracy Lane
Every mom knows that a school going kid is a hungry kid. With an early morning wakeup call, catching the bus as the sun comes up, and a morning full of social and intellectual engagement, the goods in that home-packed lunch box are key to helping our kids have energy for the day.
But what in the world do you put in their lunch boxes every single morning? We’ve got some lunch ideas and packing protocols that will help a mama out.
Let’s start with this fundamental mom freeing truth: No other mothers will see what you packed your child for lunch. You don’t have to post the picture of the cute star-shaped PBJ you spent three hours crafting with cookie cutters. Kids don’t care what other kids’ lunches look like; they’re busy scarfing down their own! So get over that crazy expectation (and desire) to pack those Pinterest worthy bento boxes.
Say it with me: Food is fuel…not bragging rights.
Now that we have that settled, here are some easy kid-friendly food options for the daily lunch grind.
- Mini pizzas: small street tacos or flatbreads, small container of grated cheese, a stack of pepperonis. Let your kid make it up how she likes at the lunch table. Throw in chopped olives or tomatoes too.
- Protein Box: hardboiled eggs, cheese cubes, sliced apples, a handful of grapes, crackers
- Muffins: Bake up a batch of their favorite muffins in a mini muffin tin. Add a couple muffins into their lunch box with a yogurt pouch, and a banana. Here’s an oatmeal chocolate chip recipe my kids want on the repeat.
4. Nut butter: If your child’s classroom isn’t nut restrictive, little pouches of Justin’s nut butter, a mini bagel, a pack of almonds, a cheese stick, and apple slices make a good lunch.
5. Sandwich Fillings: Tuna salad, chicken salad, or pimento cheese with crackers instead of in between bread slices
6. Momables: DIY lunchable with the mom power to include what your child likes and a few veggies. Deli meat slices, cheese slices, baby carrots with a side of ranch or hummus for dipping, crackers, celery.
7. Mini Burrito Box: Make a batch of these on the weekend. (Easy recipe linked to get you going!) Tortillas filled with refried beans and cheese, plus add a handful of chips and a small container of salsa for a Mexican lunch.
8. Lunch on a stick: toothpicks or skewers of fruit, plus skewers of hotdogs and cheese cubes alternated
9. Meat roll ups: Wrap a slice of deli meat around a cheesestick. My girls say they need 3 of these for an adequate filling. Add a side of goldfish and cut up strawberries.
10. Cold pasta salad: Grab a $3 bag of frozen cheese tortellini. Boil it the night before. Then seal it up in a lunch container mixed with mozzarella cheese, olives, pepperoni, tomatoes mixed in.
11. Prepackaged whole grains: Popcorn, cereal bar or granola bar, bag of nuts, banana.
12. Yogurt Bar Box: Container of yogurt, side of granola, mixed berries, and chocolate chips to stir in. Plus a muffin.
We know that whatever you put in there is packed with love. If you’re really excited about packing lunch since the school year is just kicking off, it’d be super cute to include one of these free printable lunch box love notes.