My daughter isn’t into sandwiches. It’s a new thing. Tomorrow she might like them again but today, she’s refusing to eat them. I get it. It’s easy to get bored with your packed lunch. Which means, I’m pinning ideas on Pinterest like a mad woman, trying to prepare for back to school lunches. My son, he’s easy going. He’ll eat an apple, string cheese and whatever else I throw his way. Not my daughter. I’ve come up with many new lunchbox ideas that are sandwich free for my picky eater and I’m excited to share a few of these with you. After all, us mama’s need to stick together!
1. Cocktail shrimp
High in protein and I can buy a large frozen bag and thaw several pieces of shrimp for the week. Tip: dry the thawed shrimp with a paper towel before packing them.
2. Mini Bagels & Cream Cheese
This does not count as a sandwich for some reason, in my daughter’s mind, so I’m going with it! All you need is a bag of bagels and some tasty cream cheese.
3. Whole Wheat Noodles in Parmesan Cheese with Broccoli Florets
I mix it all together with olive oil and a touch of salt. To make life easier, I divide several days’ worth into containers for easy packing!
4. Quesdillas Hit The Spot
With just a simple tortilla of your choice with some shredded cheese, how can you go wrong. Ok, they require a little cooking time, but the results will please any fussy kid. Try this recipe and let me know how you get on.
5. Hard Boiled Eggs
I make a dozen at a time and have them all peeled and ready to pack. They’re high in protein and my kids love them! And, if you want to know how to boil eggs with zero problems, check out this post I did on the topic.
6. Oatmeal, Granola & Fruit
My daughter suddenly loves oatmeal and she prefers it cold (odd). This makes it easy to pack for lunch in a container with granola and fruit. It’s heart healthy too! To mix it up, I can add Greek yogurt, make a bunch of mason jars for overnight oatmeal, and save myself a ton of time!
7. Mini Muffins
My daughter loves mini muffins and this makes for an easy lunch box addition, especially when I make them with fresh fruit, Greek Yogurt or protein powder for baking. Check out these 20 healthy muffin recipes if you’re looking to mix it up in the recipe department!
8. Homemade Cold Pizza
We love to make homemade mini pizzas at home with whole-wheat crust and my daughter loves hers with very little sauce, lots of cheese and bacon. This makes for an easy leftover but when we make them, I make several, slice them and freeze them for easy lunches.
9. Hummus & Pita Bread or Veggies
If you can get your kids onto Hummus, it’s a life saver. Super fast to prepare (in bulk) and healthy too, it can easily be combined with a few pieces of pita bread, or simply chunks of a big loaf of bread (or spread on slices). You can also combine it with veggie sticks to help get your kids eating more carrots or celery sticks, it works a treat!
Tips For Creating A Healthy Lunch
- Involve your children. Yes, you actually have to ask them to help you pack their lunch, shop for their lunch or say if they like or do not like something. What is the point of buying cherry tomatoes if they’re going to throw them away? If they don’t like a yogurt flavor you’re picking, make sure they tell you. When you pack what they like, it’s a far smoother process and they eat healthier. And personally I find when you put things in compartments using the Easy Lunchboxes system you cut down on waste but also appeal to what the children like and visually see! I also use the Fresh Baby MyPlate sandwich and snack bags.
- Consider snack foods that are good for them. My children always want a snack but if they feel like their Justin’s Chocolate and Hazelnut Butter Pretzels are a treat, you can feel good about packing it for them. OR even a crisp apple cut up with an Almond Butter packet. It’s sweet and good for them! Did you know that Justin’s products are made in small batches to ensure high quality and they use all-natural ingredients?
- Provide Protein. If there is no protein like a hard-boiled egg or yogurt, your child will not feel sustained. This is why when they’re gone for 8 hours a day, I like to make sure they have more than one protein to choose for a snack and lunch. My children are big on freezable Stonyfield YoKids Squeezers. I can freeze them and they can eat them at lunchtime or snack – their choice. A favorite, the birthday cake flavor!!
- Keep Foods Safe. Oh, this is a big one. You need to make sure that whatever you pack is kept cool and safe between the time you send them to school and they eat lunch. There are many danger zones when it comes to keeping your child’s lunch safe. If you pack meat, eggs, yogurt, cheese…you need to make sure they stay cold so there is no food borne illness. It’s what I’m loving about PACKiT™ Lunch Boxes, they are freezable and keep the foods cold. Check out the USDA recommendations on keeping lunches safe because it is very important, foods spoil quickly.
- Consider Variety. Some children love the same thing, day after day. That is fine. So long as it is well balanced, I’m all for the if it “isn’t broken don’t fix it” philosophy. However, I think when we introduce our children to new foods when they are hungry and they picked them out at the grocery store, we have a better chance at success. For example, if you challenge them to new veggies and take them to the grocery store to pick out new foods, they’re more likely to pick eat them. The idea is to MIX IT UP. Even it if is occasionally.
For other back to school lunch ideas, try these recipes and inspirations:
Books & Recipes on Amazon.com
It’s always worth having a book of recipes to keep things changing when your kids complain they are sick of a certain thing. These 3 books are great and will give you more ideas than you could possibly need: