Ideas for Packing School Lunches

If you send your child to daycare of preschool one daunting task most parents don’t look forward to is packing school lunches. The problem with sending meals for you child to school or daycare is they typically don’t have the means for warming up or reheating their food. So how do you keep from sending the same old boring sandwiches every day? Here are a few fresh ideas I’ve shared that make lunch time more exciting for kids and packed with the nutrition they need.

Bento Boxes

I had never heard of a bento box before my kids started eating solids. These are really clever ways to serve up sandwiches in a new, untraditional manner that is fun. Mind you they do take some time to prepare and require certain tools which you can buy from Amazon to mold and shape food into fun characters.

sandwich cutters egg molds  bento box  silicone cups

bentoThere are a number of ways you can prepare these. I turned to Pinterest for ideas that are simple to make without getting to detailed. It’s basically taking sandwiches to an art form. You can turn a simple ham and cheese sandwich into a majestic butterfly with sandwich cutters that shape them while cutting it into kid-friendly bite-sizes without the crust. Create various colorful arrays of fruits like grapes (cut in half) and veggies like carrots to make different themes. You can also use small stainless-steel cookie cutters for shaping vegetables like cucumber stars.

Wrap It Up

If you prefer sticking to something simple that doesn’t require much creativity wraps are a great way to go. I would prepare these in many different variations which I’ll mention three favorites here.

wrapsChicken Sandwich
Ingredients:

  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • Chicken salad
  • boiled egg
  • Carrots, cut up into cubes or shredded
  • Avocado
  • Celery, cut up

When I make my chicken salad I add chopped pieces of carrots, celery and a boiled egg and mix them up in my bullet blender but these are completely optional. And instead of cutting up carrots, which can be a little tricky, you could also just add in shredded pieces. I take half of an avocado and mash it in a bowl using a fork then spread it onto the tortilla leaving a little space (apprx 1/2″ to 3/4″) from the edge . Next, spoon the chicken salad on top and spread into an even layer. You can sprinkle extras like shredded carrots or cheese as well. You’re going to fold in the edges of the tortilla on the right and left side and fold over by about an inch. Roll it up and cut in half. You can use cute little food picks like those from the bento box ideas to keep the wrap closed until your child is ready to eat.

*You can do this for a tuna fish wrap as well instead of using chicken salad!

Turkey Wrap
Ingredients:

  • pinwheelsWhole wheat tortilla
  • Low-fat plain cream cheese
  • Deli cut turkey
  • Cucumber – sliced thin
  • Carrots – shredded

Start by spreading a thin layer of cream cheese over the tortilla. Add pieces of thinly-sliced turkey (I like to get deli cuts) and add the sliced cucumber and shredded pieces of carrots on top. For the cucumber and the carrots I just use the peeler (after peeling them of course) and make thin slices length-wise along the vegetable for my thin slices. You can also add a layer of other veggies your child may like such as lettuce, spinach leaves, or alfalfa on top. Same as above, I fold in the left and right edges of the tortilla and fold down. For this wrap you will need to spread a thin strip of cream cheese along the tortilla as you roll it up. This helps it stick together better. When you’re done you can either cut it in half or into smaller pieces to make pinwheels.

Classic PB & J

I know that some schools don’t allow peanut butter to be packed as a lunch because of the risk to children with allergies, however if your school is ok with it then you can pack this up for an easy lunch. Simply mix peanut butter with grape jelly together in a bowl and spread onto the tortilla. You’re going to fold in the right and left sides same as previously mentioned and roll the wrap up. I like to add something slightly salty to off set the sweetness of the peanut butter and jelly so I’ll add pretzels as a side.

Pasta Salad

If there is one staple that most kids love it’s pasta. You can make a healthy lunch for school that is packed full of nutrition and your kids will like. For this you can use pasta shells, elbow macaroni, bowtie pasta or spiral pasta. We like the multi-colored spiral pasta. I will make this the night before as a side to go with supper and pack the leftovers for my daughter’s lunch.

  • Pasta (cooked and drained)
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Peas and carrots (cooked and drained)
  • Boiled egg
  • Cubed pieces of ham
  • Salad dressing

Add your pasta, peas and carrots, cut up pieces of boiled egg, and cubed ham into a large bowl. You can also add in cherry/grape tomatoes cut in half if your child likes them. My daughter won’t eat them (yet she’ll eat spaghetti in a tomato sauce!) so I just omit them from the recipe. Sprinkle on mozzarella cheese and combine together well. Pack it up with dressing in a separate container for your child to take to lunch the next day without having to worry about preparing their lunch in the morning.

soupSoups On

During the cooler winter months you can pack a hearty soup in a thermos for your child to take with them to school. A homemade vegetable soup is always a favorite along with some cheese crackers to go with it or classic chicken noodle with some butter crackers. Just make sure you have a good-quality thermos that will keep it warm and seals well. We liked the Thermos Foogo Leak-Proof Jar.

When it comes to packing school lunches these are some kid-friendly favorites they’ll like that you will both love.

 

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