This post is sponsored by Pepperidge Farm, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own. It’s almost time for the kids to go back to school. I’m not going to lie-I’m doing a happy dance. Well, while I look for easy school lunch ideas that is.
Easy School Lunch Ideas
Because this year, both boys will be in school. Well, one of them will be. The Baby is starting preschool 4 days a week for 3 hours a day (which is going to be magical). This means that I’ll have approximately 2 hours where I’m blissfully alone.
This also means that I have to pack two lunches in the mornings instead of just Smalls’.
If you’ve ever packed a lunch for your child, you know that it’s much more difficult than just throwing a bunch of stuff in a bag and sending them out the door.
Because if that was the option, my kids would choose fish crackers and cheese sticks and never actually eat anything that would fuel their little learning brains. But I needed to think hard and find easy school lunch ideas for my kids.
I try really hard to make sure that my kids eat their veggies, get their vitamins, eat enough protein, and actually want to try new things.
Which can be hard when you have two semi-picky eaters in the house (who have totally polar opposite preferences when it comes to food).
Easy School Lunch Ideas
I’ve been experimenting with different ideas all summer to see what works and what doesn’t, so that when school does start (which is in a month here!) I’m prepared with easy lunch ideas that I know will get devoured.
Plus, these ideas are easy to put together even if you haven’t had your coffee yet. Yup, tested that, too.
Easy Fruits and Veggies
My kids think that freeze-dried anything is the best thing ever (SCORE!), so I pack a lot of them in their lunches. I’ve given them freeze-dried apples, freeze-dried peaches, and even freeze-dried broccoli and green beans.
While they were a little skeptical at first, they’ve definitely loosened up and will now ask for “veggie chips.”
If you can’t find freeze-dried fruits and veggies near you, there are lots of great, fruit leathers out there (or you can totally make your own).
When I’m making lunch, I try to make sure that either the fruit OR the veggie are freeze-dried, instead of both.
Eat What’s In Season
Obviously, watermelon won’t be in season in October, but apples will! I try to fill my kid’s lunches with seasonal fruit when I can. That means that for the first part of the year, they have a bit more variety than in the winter.
In spring, I include things like grapes, berries, and cherries for some variety.
Change is fun, and always getting apples, oranges, or bananas can be a bummer. So try to mix up the type of fruit you include (if you can).
Make Boring Sandwiches Way More Fun
We ate a ton of hamburgers over the summer, which means that I bought a pack of buns that I could either freeze or use…obviously that meant the kids got cool “sandwich buns.”
But Y’all. Hamburger buns (regular sized hamburger buns) are HUGE for a little kid!
And then, as I was doing my shopping this past week, I saw them. Pepperidge Farm® Bakery Classics Slider Buns. Slider buns are the perfect size for little kid’s hands!
For my 3rd grader, I can pack him 2 different types of sliders for his lunch, and he feels like he won the lottery.
For my preschooler, 1 bun is enough to fill him up, and he can have a second slider when he gets home from class.
But the best part? Pepperidge Farm® Bakery Classics Slider Buns have no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors or flavors, and ZERO grams of trans fat (per serving).
Plus they make me the cool mom.
And there are so many ways you can dress them up! Some of my boy’s favorite creations are:
- Ham and cheese sliders
- Cheese sliders
- Nugget sliders (just use a leftover chicken tender or nugget)
- Mini burgers (again, using our leftovers)
- Peanut butter and honey sliders
- Peanut butter and fruit sliders
- Almond butter sliders
- Meat and cheese sliders
- Pizza sliders (use marinara sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni)
…and I am sure that I’m forgetting some!
That’s a lot of options, and quite a few of them use leftovers, which makes that fear of food waste that lives in the back of my brain a thing of the past.
Give Them a Choice
I have a bin in our refrigerator for dairy items like yogurt and cheese, and another one for juice boxes and drinks.
In the pantry, I keep in full of snack items like fruit leather, nori sheets (really), crackers, and fruit snacks.
So while I’m working on making their sliders or main meals, they can help (which means they are far more likely to eat what I pack!).
The kids get to choose one item from each bin each day. It’s funny to watch their tastes change as they grow.
Between the three of us, we manage to get two lunches packed in under 10 minutes that are filling and delicious (and that my kids want to eat).
I prep all of their sandwiches together, they often don’t get a say in whether today is a ham and cheese day or a peanut butter and honey kind of day. Which ends up being okay because they got to pick whether they got a cheese stick or yogurt, which kind of juice they wanted (or if they’d rather fill a water bottle), and what they get to eat for their snack at school.
Need more back to school ideas?
- 5 Must-Have Items For Back To School
- 4 Rules To Ensure Your Kid Eats Their Paleo School Lunch Box
- No-Fail Breakfasts for School Mornings