This time of year I get giddy about packing school lunches again — welcome back, regular routine! — but that doesn't mean that packing 180 lunches every school year doesn't come without its own highs, lows, and the occasional cooking rut.
One thing I keep in mind is that the lunch box can be one of the most opportune times to get my kids to eat more healthfully — veggies, fruits, whole grains, and good fats and proteins seem to be eaten more quickly when I'm not there to coach them! These 25 lunches are inspiring me to get ready for back to school with the hopes of getting my soon-to-be first grader to try more new foods this school year.
Sandwiches and Wraps
Sandwiches are an easy lunchtime staple, so let's bust the idea that sandwiches (and wraps) can't be healthy. These easy ideas can be made on whole-wheat bread or the wrap of your choice and can be easily adapted to whatever fruit, vegetables, or proteins you have on hand.
- Peanut Butter, Banana, and Granola Wrap (sub chickpea butter for nut-free schools)
- Apple, Brie, and Dijon Baguette Sandwich
- Pesto and Egg Baguette Sandwich
- Chickpea and Cheddar Quesadillas
- Mediterranean Chickpea and Feta Wraps
- Ham, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Quesadilla
Pasta and Noodle Salads
I have a little noodle-lover at home and find that veggies all but disappear when packed with her favorite pasta. You can think outside the traditional pasta box and try soba, rice, or even zucchini noodles too.
- Chicken and Veggie Pesto Salad
- Grain Salad with Tomatoes, Corn and Basil
- Cold Sesame Chicken and Noodle Salad
- Tomato Chickpea Salad
- How To Make the Easiest Pasta Salad
- Chicken Waldorf Salad
- Garlicky Soba Noodle Bowls, So Easy You Don't Need a Recipe
- "Low-Rent" Tuna Poke Bowl
Muffins and Pocket Sandwiches
Muffins and pocket sandwiches do require a little meal prep over the weekend to make them speedy enough for weekday lunch boxes, but they can be frozen and pulled out as needed. Plus, they are handy vehicles for protein and vegetables.
- Muffin-Pan Deep-Dish Pizzas: No Deep Commitment Required
- Zucchini Pesto Pizza Rolls
- Spiced Lentil, Sweet Potato & Kale Whole Wheat Pockets
- Ham and Cheddar Lunch Box Muffins
- How To Master Calzones (and Freeze Them for Later)
- Loaded Savory Breakfast Muffins
Fruit and Veggie-Packed Side Salads
Adding healthy color to your kid's lunch box makes lunch more exciting, and these simple salads are a brilliant way to introduce new vegetables or just shake up their carrot-stick habit.