5 Quick School Lunch Ideas
My kids are headed back to school just after Labor Day, but for many they're already back. Along with homework, sports and after-school clubs, back-to-school season for us means the packing of school lunch. There are plenty of reasons why we choose to pack lunches rather than purchase them from the school.
Nutritional: We tend to buy organic and hormone-free products. Packing lunch makes sure my kids get this even when they are at school.
Money: I can pack a lunch for much cheaper than the $2.40 that the school charges for their lunch. I save money for other things, like music lessons, sports and books.
Hunger: My kids are more likely to eat what I pack, where half of school lunch tends to get tossed in the trash. Kids concentrate better when they've had enough to eat.
Love: Packing your child's lunch every day shows them how important they are to you (and how important feeding them is to you). Leave a note inside their lunch box saying hi and let them know you're thinking about them.
Here are a few ideas to get you started on packing those daily school lunches and keep your kids out of lunch lady land:
- Crackers and cheese. Even when there's nothing in the house, I tend to have a few whole grain crackers and cheese pieces around. My kids like to have cheese cubed or in sticks, and we also sometimes get cheese curds from the farmers' market for them to squeak on.
- Hummus and vegetable sticks. Hummus is high in protein and filling, too. Give your kids what they need to get through the day by offering a small container with hummus accompanied by their favorite dipping sticks. Try celery, carrots, pretzels or bell pepper sticks.
- Sandwich wraps. Break from the monotony of the everyday sandwich by rolling a spinach wrap with some deli-sliced chicken and a thin slice of cheese. Cut into small, bite-sized pieces for a fun, pop-it-in-your-mouth lunch.
- Leftovers: We invested in a few insulated containers last year to hold hot foods, and my kids couldn't be happier. Homemade mac and cheese, fried rice and even steak bites and stir fry have traveled to the school lunchroom with them.
- Salads: From a chicken Caesar to chicken pasta salads. Cold salads are easy to toss into a container. Choose salads with dressing on the side so they don't wilt, and explore a whole array of grain salads. One of my kids' favorites is a Mediterranean bean and barley salad.