Back to school lunch ideas for elementary school kids. (Hint: It has to be “yummy!”)
Back to School Lunch Ideas
When I asked my boys what was most important to them when it comes to packing their school lunches…they both said, “that it’s YUMMY!”
Of course, I thought to myself, after all, was I expecting them to say that it should be nutritionally balanced???
“So how do you pack a yummy lunch box?” I inquired.
“Add carrots!” declared my snack-food loving 7-year old.
“Salami sandwiches!” exclaimed my 9-year old, who has recently discovered deli-style sandwiches.
So Many Options
I asked a few more questions. As it turns out, my boys would both rather have cold lunches than hot thermos lunches (but maybe that will change come colder weather—they usually like chicken noodle soup or pasta with peas in a thermos).
My 9-year old said he wants mostly sandwiches—salami, turkey, bacon (this is coming from a boy who used to only like jam sandwiches). My 7-year old isn’t big on sandwiches and would rather have a bento-style lunch.
Talk to Your Kids
So my point here is that you have to talk to your kids about what they might like in their lunchbox. Give them a few healthy options or suggestions to choose from. Let them help you pack or plan lunches if possible.
I also encourage trying out some new foods in their lunch boxes. You could even invite a couple of friends over and have a lunch box testing party. (OK, maybe I’m the only one who thinks that sounds like fun!) But the point is, they may surprise you with what they like. You never know if you don’t try!
Our Family’s Lunch Line Up
Here is our starting line-up for this fall’s lunch box meals:
E (4th grade)
- Baguette sandwich with turkey, lettuce & cucumbers
- Bulkie roll (from Iggy’s, a local bakery) with salami & baby spinach
- Whole wheat toast with bacon (Applegate), lettuce, and shredded carrots
- Chicken noodle soup in a thermos with Akmak crackers or bread on the side
- Whole wheat tortilla roll-up with bacon and/or turkey, avocado, and arugula
Fruit and/or veggie
+ Something extra (multigrain tortilla chips, spelt pretzels, popcorn, or sweet treat)
(Elliott also usually likes to buy milk with his lunch and often gets a yogurt or kefir smoothie plus fruit for his snack).
H (2nd grade)
- Cheese and whole-grain crackers, sliced cucumbers, and sliced melon
- Homemade peanut butter and golden round crackers, carrot sticks, and apple
- Hummus, pita wedges, grapes, and red bell peppers
- Roasted almonds, whole grain crackers, kefir smoothie (Probugs), strawberries, and baby carrots
- Small piece of baguette with butter and turkey, raspberries, and snap peas
(I usually also pack chocolate milk, the shelf-stable one by Horizons, for H).
Fun reusable packaging helps with every age. I know that I get cheery when my lunch is in a nice Mason jar or glass container. Make sure it’s more cool than cute for older kids and play up the environmental benefits of packing your own bag or container of popcorn instead of buying the prepackaged bags. Most kids care about taking care of the earth even if they aren’t particularly concerned about nutrition!