Creative School Lunch Ideas

When putting together a lunch for your kids, variety is key. No one wants to be eating the same dry sandwich day after day (just as one of our team members – that’s all she remembers from her school lunches!). Beyond variety, it is important to remember the 4 food groups as outlined in Canada’s Food Guide. A good school lunch should have a main item, a couple sides such as fruits and veggies, and a ‘treat’ that fulfill the recommended servings of these foods.

Laptop Lunches bento box lunch - multigrain tortilla chips, guacamole, cheddar cheese, organic strawberries, grapes & homemade granola bar

Photo: buzzymelibee on Flickr

Sandwiches

The are the quintessential lunch food. But nowadays, with allergies, you can’t even pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Mix up your bread options to include bagels, tortillas, English muffins, pita bread, naan and other options. Here are a wide variety of sandwich filling ideas, beyond just the basic ham and cheese, to keep your little ones interested in their food.

Cheddar and apple

A classic sweet and salty combination.

Seed butter and banana or jelly

For those schools who don’t allow nuts, seed butters are a good option. Try sunflower seed butter, pumpkin seed butter, or pea butter.

Banh Mi

Vietnamese Sandwich

Photo: kneoh on Flickr

These sweet and slightly sour sandwiches from Vietnam are all the rage now. Try this vegetarian twist on the classic.

“Sushi” Roll Ups

To add some variety to your sandwiches and to make them more fun to eat, try rolling them up like a sushi roll. Put any combination of food inside that you would put normally in a sandwich.

Turkey and Cheese Waffle Sandwich

Putting turkey and cheese into a waffle will make an unusual and fun meal. A little bit of maple syrup makes this sandwich a balance of sweet and savory flavors.

Sandwich Pinwheels

Pinwheels

Photo: Maggie on Flickr

Kids will love being able to see all the colors and what is inside their wrap. It’s easy to throw together with a variety of possibilities.

Beyond Bread

Having mentioned a few of the bread type creations, sometimes bread and sandwiches can only get you so far. Here are some more creative ideas for getting your kids their grains.

Pizza Buns

What kid doesn’t enjoy pizza? Try this homemade variety paired with some fruit and veggies.

Tuna Salad & Crackers

Salmon Salad

Photo: djnordic on Flickr

An interactive meal is great. With this tuna salad, kids can dip their crackers into it. Assorted vegetables that have been cut up can be dipped as well. Not a fan of tuna? What about salmon or chicken salad?

Taco Cups

Keeping with the interactive theme, pack all the fixings for a taco and let your kids build their own lunch.

Make Your Own Lunchable

Lock & Lock bento lunch with puzzle cheese and crackers, salami and grapes

Photo: Buzzy Melibee on Flickr

It’s healthier than buying one of the premade ones, and it’s simple to throw together. Cut out the cheese and meats into different shapes for some added flare if you want.

Put it on a Stick

Adult and kids alike love food on a stick. Take a meal and break it down into its components and put onto a stick. Anything from hot dogs, sandwiches, fruit, and leftover burgers will work. For the younger ones, considering using coffee stirrers, popsicle sticks or maybe straws to avoid any mishaps.

Hot Lunches

Depending on your individual child, their age and their classroom, they may or may not have access to a microwave. If they do, then you have a lot of possibilities for lunch. If not, try putting these options into a thermos to keep warm until lunch time.

Fried Rice

The great thing about fried rice is that it is versatile. You can put anything into it to be mixed with the rice. Leftover chicken? Great. Corn and peas? Excellent. It’s a good way of getting a variety of foods into a dish.

Pasta (or pasta salad)

There are so many options here and it is a great way of using up leftovers. Some pastas can be served up at room temperature or heated up if possible. There are endless options from lasagna roll ups to mac and cheese (in the shape of a cup too!) to a BLT pasta salad.

Breakfast for lunch

Break the rules by having breakfast for lunch. Scramble up some eggs to be served with pancakes or waffles. Make a breakfast burrito or sandwich.

Soup or Chili

If your child is comfortable with liquids and won’t spill them, then soup or chili is a great option to fill and warm them up, especially as the weather cools off. Go classic with chicken noodle soup or try something different like corn chowder.

Gyozas

IMG_20130813_120707

Give lunch an Asian flare with some gyoza dumplings. You can try to make them yourself, or go the much easier route by purchasing some of ours.

Need some further ideas? These mothers have you covered with a week’s worth (and more) of meals:

5 Easy Lunch Box Meals from eat at home
30 Days of Lunchbox Recipes from Peanut Blossom
A Kid-Friendly 5-Day Meal Plan from Dinner: A Love Story via The Kitchn
Operation Awesome Lunch from Crazy Adventures in Parenting

Happy back to school week!

What are your favorite meals to serve your kids for lunch?

 

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