Back-to-School Healthy Lunch Ideas {Healthy Family Recipes}

Hello to all our new friends from The Benson Street! We are so excited today to participate in their Back-to-School series. Can you believe we’re already preparing to send our kids back to school? Where did the summer go? Our school starts a little later than some, waiting until after Labor Day, but others I know are going ┬áback in the next week or two, so for them it’s definitely crunch time!

I don’t know about you, but every time I happen to be in my kids’ school during the lunch hour, the old familiar smells of school lunch assault me with a giant punch in the gut. YUCK! I don’t know what ever made me think school lunch was awesome, but as a mom it grosses me out. Add to that the increasing cost of school lunch (we pay $2.10/day…how much is YOUR school lunch?), and we’re committed to taking cold lunches as much as possible. But the PB&J sandwiches (or meat and cheese for my oldest) get pretty boring, pretty quick. We struggle to find enough new ideas that are fast, easy, and store well, all while keeping the kids more interested in eating their lunch (in the ridiculous 10-15 minutes they are allotted to eat) than in talking and playing with their friends.

So, a few staples that we ALWAYS have on hand during the school year (as in, if we run out, we make a midnight-run to the grocery store or the kids won’t have a lunch) are:

  • Ritz Crackers
  • Peanut Butter
  • Fresh fruit and veggies (apples are most common, pears are next)
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Cheese
  • Tortillas

Yep, you’ll notice there wasn’t any “bread” on that list. My kids get tired of sandwiches too quickly, so we save those for occasional lunches so they’ll actually eat it! ­čÖé Instead we’ll use tortillas, since they store better, don’t get moldy, we ALWAYS have fresh tortillas on hand, and they don’t get as squished in the lunch bag.

Now you have the staples, you’re all set, right? Wrong! It’s still super easy to get stuck in a rut when you’re using the same old ingredients, so here are a few of our favorites. Maybe you’ll find something new your kids will love!

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  1. Peanut Butter with Apples: Have you tried it? Delicious! Send some peanut butter in a small container and let the kids dip their apples. Make it a little sweeter by mixing in some mini chocolate chips!
  2. Slice an apple and send it just like that! If you send fruit whole it’s harder for the kids to eat and would take their whole lunchtime, but a sliced apple can easily be munched down or shared with friends. Check out below for our tip on how to slice an apple and keep it fresh until lunch.
  3. Apple Slices with Cheese: I’ve heard of this combination a ton but hadn’t really tried it until recently…it’s awesome! Send the apple slices and cheese separate and let the kids build their own “sandwiches”.
  4. Crackers with Apples and Cheese…same concept as #3 but add a cracker for added crunch, salt, and fiber. The kids love making their own stacks and seeing how big a bite they can take.
  5. Cracker & Cheese Stacks: Easy peasy, like a homemade lunchable. Just send a small stack of crackers with some slices of your family’s favorite cheese and let the kids enjoy. Add a veggie or fruit to the side and they’ll have a great meal that will keep them full all day long.
  6. Peanut Butter Banana Wrap: Tortillas spread with peanut butter, with sliced banana on top, then rolled up and cut in half…awesome “sandwich” that tastes like dessert! Add a little drizzle of honey before rolling if you like your bananas green and tart like we do.
  7. Apple Cheddar Wrap: tortilla, thin apple slices and thin cheese slices (or grated cheese), rolled up and cut in half. Yum!
  8. Chocolate Peanut Butter Wrap: Replace bananas in the PB&Banana wrap with chocolate chips. This is my kids’ favorite and one they love to make themselves. Scroll down to see my daughter making her own!

You can add variety to any of these ideas with the addition of some other simple ingredients, like leftover roast or lunch meat. Add turkey to the Apple Cheddar Wrap for some extra protein, or add leftover roast to the Cracker & Cheese Stacks. Add chopped almonds to any of the peanut butter wraps for extra crunch. Or add unsweetened coconut to the peanut butter and chocolate chip blend for dipping apples. Get creative! All of these are super easy to make, so put the kids in charge of their own lunch and let them take ownership of the things they get to eat each day.

Now, have you ever struggled with sending sliced apples to school? Hate the way they turn brown and slimy, but don’t want to take the time to soak them in lemon juice? Yeah, me too. Here’s our solution:

SlicedAppleMethodSee? Easy-peasy! You can secure the apple quickly with a rubber band around the middle. Unless you’re like me and rubber bands aren’t exactly on hand, then you can toss it into a sandwich bag to keep the pieces together. It works like a charm! Another trick we’ve done to keep it all together is to slice each side, but not go all the way down, keeping the bottom attached just a little on each slice. The kids can just pull it apart when they’re ready to eat and you don’t need anything to keep it together!

chocolatePBwraps
Still need more ideas? Yeah, me too! So I’ve been pinning like CRAZY, and there are SO many good recipes and ideas out there. Head over to our Healthy School Lunches board on Pinterest and see all the awesomeness we’re finding!┬áMake sure to click over to The Benson Street to see all the awesome Back-to-School goodness that has been shared all month!

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