Packing school lunches for kids can be a challenge. Not only do you have to deal with your child’s particular likes and dislikes, but you also need to find foods that travel well and fit within your school’s allergen guidelines.
It’s no wonder lunch-packing is a source of stress.
We pack a lot of lunches here in my house, and as a general rule I try for each meal to have four components: a fruit, a veggie, a main dish, and something crunchy. Most days we hit on all four points. Sometimes we don’t, and that’s okay. Occasionally, I throw a sweet treat in as a surprise just for fun. And sometimes, I like to mix it up and send something besides a boring old sandwich.
Here I’ve come up with 10 non-sandwich lunch ideas that might work for your kids. But first, a few things that deserve a mention:
- It’s okay to pack the same thing every day for the entire school year if you need. If it’s not bothering your kid, don’t let it bother you.
- What works for one kid won’t work for another. Some of these lunches one of my kids loves, while the other wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole.
- Portion sizes will vary by kid. Heck, they’ll even vary for the same kid from day to day. I always tuck an emergency granola bar into my son’s lunch box in case he has an extra-large appetite that day and needs a little extra something.
- Invest in a good thermos. It’s the best way to send hot lunch with your kid which – in my opinion – is way more appetizing than cold food.
And now, here we go. Ten non-sandwich lunch ideas for kids.
Is this cheating that I just took the contents of a sandwich, rolled it up into a tortilla, and sliced it up? My son loves these. I slather avocado on the tortilla for some extra nutrition.
Hummus is packed with protein and super filling. They even sell it in individually packaged containers to easily toss in your child’s lunch.
Meat and cheese. Send ’em a toothpick as their utensil because it’s always fun to eat stuff off of a stick.
You can send a lunchable, or you can make your own! Crackers, meat, and cheese. How easy and fun is that?
A toasted (mini) bagel with cream cheese is super filling. Send two for kids with big appetites.
Dipping food is fun – especially for kids! Heat up ravioli in a thermos and send either pesto or tomato sauce to dip them in. If you pack pesto, check to see if it’s made with pine nuts; that won’t work if you’re at a nut-free school.
A boiled egg is great protein, as is the yogurt. Send some fun fruit or granola to mix in with it. If your school is nut-free, check the contents of the granola.
Another DIY lunchable! Toast an English muffin, pack sauce and toppings, and let your kiddo assemble their own cold pizza.
NACHOS! Toss all your leftovers from Taco Tuesday together – meat, beans, cheese, rice – heat them up, and throw them in the thermos. But DO NOT buy these quinoa & black bean tortilla chips from Trader Joe’s because you (mom) will eat the entire bag yourself while your child is at school.
Assemble-your-own-salad is always a dinner hit at our house; this is the school lunch version. I used leftover chicken and other stuff from our fridge and combined all the ingredients my kids like into a salad. Toss in a few plantain chips (another dangerous Trader Joe’s find) and your lunch is complete.
What are your fave non-sandwich lunches to send to school with your child? We’d love as many new suggestions as possible!