For several years, I was spoiled. My son’s preschool was one of the few that were willing to re-heat the kids’ lunches. School lunch ideas included last night’s leftovers. So if we had spaghetti for dinner, we could easily set aside a portion to pack for my son’s lunch the next day. The teachers would heat the kids’ meals while they were out playing, and we never had to think twice about what to serve for his main meal at lunch.
Except now he’s in a new school for pre-kindergarten. And this school, like most, do not reheat students’ lunches. The kids either bought hot food from the cafeteria, or they ate cold or room temperature food brought from home.
I wasn’t about to spend money for cafeteria food, but I wanted to give my son more than just your standard peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I didn’t want him eating sandwiches every day until he was a senior in high school.
So I scoured for ideas on creative lunch menus—stuff that’s easy to prepare, doesn’t need to be reheated, and can be adapted and rotated enough from becoming too routine.
School lunch ideas
Below are 20 healthy school lunch ideas to plan your child’s meals, enough for at least four school weeks. I laid the meals out in a calendar format, and included a simple “recipe” for the ones that may not be well known. Swap the ingredients for variety, so that one day you make a turkey wrap while another day it could be a chicken wrap. Either way, you’ll always have a calendar of basic lunchbox ideas to rotate and draw ideas from.
Download and print the calendar to hang in your kitchen.
- Caprese skewers
- Tuna and pita sandwich
- Ham and cheddar sandwich
- Chicken sandwich
- Gruyere, fig and apple panini
- Tuna, apple and brie rolls
- Cheese pizza
- Caprese sandwich
- Pasta salad
- Soup in a thermos
- Breadcrumb-coated chicken nuggets
- Zucchini fritters
- Prosciutto pizza
- Chicken and lettuce tortilla wrap
- Bagel with cream cheese and jam
- Grilled cheese sandwich
- Panko-crusted fish sticks
- Chili in a thermos
To help you plan school lunches and your family meals, download and print this free weekly meal planner I made for easy organizing:
Get more tips with school and food:
- 6 Tips to Make Your Morning Routine for School Run Smoothly
- 6 Useful Back to School Tips for Parents and Kids
- How to Raise Kids Who Want to Eat Healthy
- Finally… Meal Planning for Beginners
- Get Cooking at Home! 7 Ideas that Actually Work
Your turn: What do you pack for your kids’ school lunches? What are some other school lunch ideas you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments!
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