We start back to school late at our school– not until September 8! However, I am in the throes of trying to get myself organized for back to school routines. Rather than list out items that you could include in a healthy back to school lunch box, I thought I would take a different tack and give some general suggestions for changing up the standard lunch of sandwich, a piece of fruit, and a drink (keeping it healthy of course)!
Send Breakfast for Lunch
I don’t know about your kids, but my kids LOVE breakfast for dinner! So why not serve it for lunch sometimes? Whole wheat pancakes could be substituted for bread. Keep the peanut butter and jelly filling or make it a true breakfast sandwich and stuff it with an egg, turkey bacon and/or cheese.
Yogurt and granola (we love Stonyfield Banilla) are also a lot of fun and a huge hit in our house. I pack the yogurt and granola separately, so we don’t have any soggy toppings. It’s fun to mix together, and it’s protein-packed for some staying power! Overnight oats transferred to thermos are a fun option as well. There are a TON of different flavor combinations like banana blueberry and carrot cake. You could seriously be on Pinterest all night looking at recipes! 🙂
Change the Temperature
Sometimes it’s easy to forget about the good old-fashioned thermos. If your child likes a particular soup (or it’s a really cold day), pack soup and whole wheat crackers or crusty bread. Soups are also great for sneaking in extra vegetables into their diet! You can also reheat last night’s leftovers (see below).
Another favorite snack or lunch add-on in our family is Stonyfield Yo-Kids Squeezers. I buy a box or two and stash them in the freezer. All you have to do is take it out in the morning and throw it in the lunch box. When it’s time for lunch, there yogurt will be nice and cool!
Take a Dip
Most kids love dipping foods, and they’re actually not that hard to incorporate into lunch. One of my oldest’s favorites is apple slices to dip in peanut butter (you could sub almond butter or sunflower butter if your school is peanut-free). Veggies and hummus are another great dipping combination.
If you want to do breakfast for lunch, you could do homemade french toast sticks to dip in real maple syrup. If your child likes spicy food, how about some salsa and tortilla chips? I love this yogurt dip recipe, and it pairs really well with fresh fruit chunks or slices. Another popular option is crackers or pretzels with an accompanying dip (or with peanut butter, almond butter, or nut butter substitute).
Be Environmentally Friendly and Recycle Last Night’s Dinner
Sometimes school mornings are so busy, it’s hard to even find time to pack lunch. If your child loved last night’s dinner, why not make it easy and pack leftovers? You can heat it up in the microwave and then pop it in a thermos for a warm lunch! Similarly, you can make an extra batch of favorite meals and then freeze portions for school lunches. Take it out of the freezer the night before, and you have a super easy school lunch!
Make it Look Nice (and fun!)
Kids are a sucker for fun food presentation! I’m not suggesting you need to get all Martha Stewart with the lunch box, but fun cookie cutters and food packaging can make lunch look visually appealing and more likely to be eaten! If you don’t want to be overly ambitious, try purchasing one sandwich cutter and experiment. You may be surprised when your child actually eats all of his/her sandwich! You can also pop in a fun lunch box note or joke to make your child smile at lunch time– these ones are really cute!
30 Something Mother Runner is a Stonyfield Blogger, and as such received samples of Stonyfield yogurt products to use and include in this post. All writing and opinions are 100% my own.