Eating lunch during the summertime isn't always a big to-do, especially if you graze throughout the day in between pool visits, building sandcastles and reading together in the hammock.
Ensuring the kids get enough to stay full and achieve proper nutrition throughout the school year is a much taller order, especially when you have to keep it cool and keep in mind that they get half an hour or less to eat. Add to that the brief amount of time you have to both shop and prepare food and it can get tricky, but with these simple back-t0-school lunches, parents can keep their kids well-fed no matter the time of year it is.
10 DIY Lunchable
Skip the packaged Lunchables and make your kiddo a DIY version with cut-up pieces of meat and cheese. Include different types of crackers, flatbread or tortillas for a fun twist, or cut them into shapes.
The value of a DIY Lunchable isn't only in the savings, but the nutrition: you can add veggies and fruits for more vitamins and minerals. Stick a small lidded container of dip with strips of bell peppers for a fun and tasty serving of vegetables. A reusable bottle of water and healthier treat, like a veggie brownie, will round off the lunch quite nicely.
9 Hummus With Pita Bread
If your kids love to dip or spread hummus, this is the perfect meal. You can make your own hummus and add fun ingredients or buy it from the store and spoon it into a lidded container. Pack it with pita bread (mix in some pita chips for more crunch and flavor if you like) as well as veggies that are good for dunking, too, like carrots and cucumber slices.
Strips of peppers, cherry tomatoes, veggie straws, broccoli or cauliflower would also work as dippers. If you have no pita chips, add in a handful of pretzels for crunchy dippers. Include some fruit for dessert.
8 Tea Sandwich Roll-Ups
If your child has a posh palette, serve up some fancy yet easy tea sandwiches for lunch. Mix some dill and chopped cucumbers into some cream cheese along with any other herbs and spices you like and spoon it into a lidded container. Pack it in the lunchbox with tortillas or slices of bread with the crusts cut off to spread it on.
Include fresh fruit, a scone with cream and jam and finger veggies with dip to complete your child's "tea." If you can include a thermos of tea it could make it very special; try hibiscus, which tastes a lot like punch! Tiny petit fours would make a great dessert for this lunch, as would macarons.
7 Muffin Lunch
What's more fun to eat than a muffin? You can make it nutritious by making pizza muffins, mac and cheese muffins or egg and sausage muffins! It's so easy to just mix and bake these, and you can freeze many recipes for later. Experiment with different recipes, veggies, and sauces to serve on the side. The leftovers from a juicer work great for this, and you can easily alter recipes to make them lower in sugar with monkfruit and almond flour.
If you're dressing these up for serving, top with a little herb sprig to make them even more appetizing. For dessert, you can always include a leftover fruit muffin to go with the theme, or some sliced fruit.
6 Ants On A Log
Smaller kids will love eating raisins, chocolate chips and other "ants" off the "logs" you make with celery stalks filled with cream cheese or nut butter. Make your "logs" more festive by using apple or peach slices and top them with fruit dip. If your kids like coconut, make the "log" snow-covered with coconut flakes!
Play around with different foods as ants, from dried fruits to sunflower seeds. If you have a creative kid, pack different "ants" and "logs" alongside fruit dip and let them make their own during lunch time! If you have a child who might be too excited to eat with that option, save it for a snack at home.
5 Grab And Go
If you're running late and you need something fast, there are a number of places where you can still grab a healthy, fast lunch. Subway, Panera, and similar companies will make a nutritious sandwich, or you can grab a ready-made one from the gas station or grocery store on the way.
Add a side of apples with caramel dip, veggies with ranch or whatever other fresh option they've got available. Even if you have to go with fast food--which would probably excite your child, even if it's not your first choice for a lunch--many still have healthy side options to include, from carrot sticks to string cheese.
4 Chili, Soup Or Stew
What's more comforting than a hot thermos of your favorite chili, soup, or stew? It doesn't have to be complicated: you can even dress up a soup from the store with a few herbs at home to make it tastier. Many kids will want it plain anyway. You could make a big batch in the crock pot and everyone could enjoy a hot lunch this week!
Pack it with a side of bread and crackers or a bread bowl just like your child would see at a restaurant to make it special. Try croutons in it for a nice kick of garlic! Include some raw veggies as a side.
There's nothing easier than sending a bowl of what you had for dinner the night before! Casseroles, spaghetti, and even pizza will reheat well if your child has a microwave to use at school. Mix in some fresh protein and veggies if you want to give it a bit of an update as a new meal, and use rainbow spaghetti for a fun new twist.
For a healthier option with more veggies, try spiralized zucchini or carrots or spaghetti squash instead. Then again, there's no shame in a can of spaghetti-o's if your kid loves them and that's what you've got!
2 Breakfast For Lunch
Breakfast is usually an easy meal to fix, so sending some French toast, an egg scramble or even Pop Tarts for lunch can work, especially if you include some veggies with it to help round it out. No, Pop Tarts every day isn't a healthy option, but if your kid loves them and they make it easy, there's no harm in it sometimes. Of course, if you're ambitious you can try making your own with healthier ingredients--you can even use fresh foods and favorite add-ins like nutella!
Crepes work well for breakfast for lunch, as do sausage biscuits. In this vein, yes, you could always stop for a fast-food breakfast to send as lunch in a pinch!
1 School Lunch
The easiest lunch of all, of course, is to send your kid with lunch money to buy one. This isn't an option for many families due to many different reasons, so obviously if it doesn't work for you, don't sweat it. If it does, though, making use of it wouldn't hurt, especially if your child likes school food.
There's also the option of a compromise, if it's allowed at school: send the main dish for your student as well as change for a healthy side, a milk or an apple. This ensures that they get full as well as some vitamins and minerals from fresh foods when available.