Now that school is back in session, you may be in need for inspiration for packing those lunches! For some parents, coming up with healthy meals five days a week can be tough. For most of us, time is precious so we want things that are healthy, but easy, too. Hopefully this quick list can help with those school lunches on days when you need some fresh ideas.

  • Think outside the bread. Nothing says lunch has to include a sandwich! Go beyond the bread. Use whole wheat wraps or make roll-ups with turkey or ham and cheese- no bread required! You can also use yummy spreads like hummus or vegetable cream cheese, spread on a tortilla, add some lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese, roll it up and you’re good to go. You can also create your own lunchable with crackers, cheese cubes and slices of salami or pepperoni.
  • Don’t forget the leftovers. Check out the contents of your fridge to see if there’s anything that might work from tonight’s dinner for tomorrow’s lunch. Think pasta salad, mac and cheese or even soup in a thermos.
  • Use what’s in season. There’s still a lot of tasty summer fruit available right now  – blueberries, strawberries, peaches and nectarines. Make a yummy fruit salad, or even fruit skewers (just cut off the sharp edges) and load up the lunch box. In the fall, apples make the perfect addition to lunch.
  • Mix it up. For most of us, we need variety when it comes to eating and that rings true for students, too. If your child usually packs, don’t forget to check the school lunch menu, in case one day they want to buy a slice of cheese pizza or chicken nuggets.
  • Keep it fun. Use cookie cutters to cut bread for sandwiches in fun shapes. Keep things colorful with carrots, celery and red peppers. Add in a surprise cookie. Leave a note to let your child know you’re thinking of them.
  • Have your kids help! Let them spread peanut butter and jelly on the bread, have them help wash fruit or vegetables to include and allow them to make (healthy!) choices about what they’d like to include in their lunch.
  • Get baking. While you can stock up on as many goodies at Ashley’s Pastries, sometimes the fun for kids is to help bake. Look up recipes for homemade muffins, granola bars or cookies that you can bake together on the weekend and have to include in lunches in the week ahead.
  • Prep and pack as much as you can the night before. Prepare individualized portion sizes of snacks like pretzels, carrot sticks, or grapes. Set out the lunchboxes the night before and add napkins and non-perishables to have as much ready in the morning as you can.

 Happy packing!