Every year at back-to-school time, I make a promise to myself: This year, I'll do a better job of packing my kids lunch. I have such good intentions, I swear, all involving fresh produce and multiple food groups and things that don't come in little plastic pouches. Inevitably, long before Halloween, I'm back to frantically passing off whatever snacks happen to be in the pantry as "lunch" or handing over a five-dollar-bill that will probably go to chips and ice cream. So what are some easy school lunch ideas that I'll actually be motivated to make and my kids will actually be motivated to eat?
When you're not sure whether or not your kids are going to consume the lunch you packed, it's hard to feel super pumped about putting a ton of effort into the daily task. I can't even count how many times my kids have come home with exactly one bite out of their sandwich. Or then there's the thing that happens when you send a baggie of, say, carrot sticks, and your kid comes home with lunchbox full of cheez curlz dust. "I traded," is always the explanation for that fun trick.
Luckily, there's something on this list for everybody — from kids who refuse to eat anything but peanut butter and jelly to kids with more adventurous palates to kids who can't eat bread — and everything is good for them, too. Another year, another chance to get this school lunch thing right!
1Skewers With Turkey, Apple, & Cheddar
A great sandwich alternative if your kid is gluten-free (or just sick of sandwiches), these skewers with turkey, apple, and cheddar from Mel's Kitchen Café go well with a handful of rice crackers, some nuts, and a piece of fruit.
You'll have no use for the chemical-laden, pre-packaged variety when you try these DIY "Lunchables" from Natasha's Kitchen: A chicken slider, salad with ranch dressing, trail mix, a banana, and a chocolate milk (don't forget the note!).
3Spinach Hummus Wraps
These spinach hummus wraps from Love and Lemons call for homemade hummus, but store bought will of course do in a pinch (even though hummus is actually super easy to make).
4Ham, Apple, & Provolone Wraps
A tangy twist on the standard ham and cheese sandwich, these ham, apple, and provolone wraps from Meatloaf and Melodrama prove classics don't have to be boring.
5DIY "Uncrustable" Freezer Sandwiches
You'll need to invest in a sandwich cutter for these DIY "Uncrustable" freezer sandwiches from Princess Pinky Girl, but you'll get so much use out of it (and while this recipe uses peanut butter and jelly, you could use almost any filling).
6Vegetable Loaded Pizza Quesadillas
If your kid likes cold pizza, they'll love these vegetable loaded pizza quesadillas from Simply Delicious Food. Use the veggies and cheese of your choice.
7Chicken Cobb Salad Kabobs
Another excellent way to use skewers, these chicken Cobb Salad kabobs from Mom on Timeout put pretty much every food group on a stick.
8Pesto Carrots & Chickpeas With Rice
Make a big batch of pesto carrots and chickpeas with rice from Naturally Ella for dinner and pack the leftovers in a container the next day for a surprisingly kid-friendly and healthy lunch.
9Tuna Sandwich With Guacamole Tomato Boats
These tortilla pinwheels from Natasha's Kitchen are filled with cream cheese, sliced cheese, deli turkey, thinly sliced tomatoes, and shredded lettuce, but you can put your own spin on the idea based on what you have in the fridge.