I don’t know if you’re like me, but it seems like after a few weeks of school, I am out of ideas for my kids’ school lunches. I can’t seem to think of anything besides PB and J and they’re sick of it by now. So, I’ve drummed up some new ideas which, so far, seem to be a hit. And, with such a variety of yummy dishes in their lunch, they no longer complain about the occasional traditional PB and J. Here are my top ten. Feel free to add.
1. Dip Day-My kids love to dip things…ANYTHING. Literally. My 8-year old doesn’t care what he’s eating as long as he’s dipping it in something. Which is what gave me the idea of Dip Day. One day a week is dip day. Veggies in Ranch, Chips in Salsa, Pitas in Hummus, Fruit in Carmel or Yogurt, Grilled Chicken Tenders in Honey Mustard Sauce, Crackers in a soft cheese, carrots and celery sticks in Peanut Butter (yes, I said carrots in Peanut Butter…try it. It really is good).
2. Cracker Sandwiches. My kids love cracker sandwiches. Go figure. They don’t really love ham, turkey or cheese on bread, but cut it up into little pieces and serve it with Ritz crackers and they think they’re in heaven. I send cut up pieces of each in separate bags and let them create their own sandwiches.
3. Roll-ups or Pinwheels. Ditch the bread. Instead lay out a flour tortilla. Spread with a thin layer of cream cheese or hummus. Place ham, turkey, cheese, lettuce, etc. on top and roll. Either leave as a roll or cut into circles for pinwheels.
4. Hot Day-I’m not sure if all schools are like this, but ours allows access to an microwave for kids in 3rd grade and above. For these kiddos, I send leftover hot food like pizza, grilled chicken, spaghetti….whatever they love from the night before.
5. Incredible Sides. I used to think that somehow a sandwich had to make it into the lunch to make it a complete meal. But, then I realized, it just needs to be balanced, with protein, fruits, veggies, carbs and dairy. With that I have one day that’s just amazing sides. I start with trail mix with mixed nuts and dried fruits. Add a yogurt, some veggie sticks, and a piece of fruit, and I’m set. They like having lots of choices and they fill up quickly.
6. Kabobs-Thread chunks of ham, chicken or turkey, cheese, fruit or cherry tomatoes on a skewer. The kids are bound to have fun threading them off. Why is that the more they get to touch their food the more they love it?
7. Pitas-As far as I’m concerned, Pitas are like suitcases. You just stuff them as full as you can with whatever you’ve got. Somehow, because they are pitas, they love them. I’ve done pepperoni, cheese and pizza sauce (especially if they can heat it up), deli meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato, rice, beans, cheese and salsa, taco meat and toppings. It’s the perfect way to get creative.
8. Bagels-Instead of bread for club sandwiches, go for bagels or bagel thins. Or just send bagels and cream cheese.
9. Spice Up the PB and J– Admittedly, we still eat a lot of PB and J, but the kids like it a lot more if it’s not on the traditional bread. Instead, spread it on graham crackers for a special treat. Or, a rice cake for a healthier alternative that kids LOVE! (It’s my kids’ personal favorite).
10. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s variety. Have a bunch of things on hand so every day is something new: nuts, chips, crackers, cheeses, fruits, muffins, granola bars, dried fruit, veggies, yogurts. Grab new sides and mains each day and they’re bound to love it.
Add a few jokes or notes to the lunchbox, and you’ll be supermom in their eyes. Check out Kerri’s post for some great ideas and a free printable.