Get ready mama! Whether it’s homeschooling, distant learning or going to school here are some quick and easy back-to-school lunches you can whip up!
Is it time to go back to school already?
It might be a different schedule for your little kid this time around – homeschool might be a new thing or online distance learning – but no matter what school looks like for your family, having quick and easy back to school lunches will save you time, money and your sanity!
It seems like the summer just started but, here we are, getting ready to send our little ones back to the classroom.
While running from store-to-store to grab all of their supplies seems tedious, you can easily get it done in a day or two.
Preparing lunches, however, is a school year long commitment.
I know as a mother of twins how hectic lunch planning and packing can be. You know how most parents count the days until school ends for the summer? I count the lunches left that I have to make!
But lunch-making doesn’t have to be a stressful ordeal.
Here are some quick and easy back-to-school lunch ideas to choose from as well as the right gear to keep those lunches organized.
How to Pack a School Lunch
Obviously, you just open the lunchbox – or the easy Bento Box for your kindergartner – and stuff everything in and hope it will fit.
However, what you choose to stuff in there is important in helping your children stay healthy as well as keeping them fueled for their busy day.
Here’s a simple way to pack a school lunch:
- Choose a Main Course. The main course of your child’s lunch should be something hearty that includes protein. You want to make sure their hunger is satisfied until their after-school snack.
- Add Some Fruits and Veggies. We all strive to make our kids’ lunches as healthy as possible and including fruits and veggies is a great way to do so. Plus it will help keep them fuller for longer.
- Throw in a Snack. Your child will have at least one snack break throughout the day, so you want to make sure they have something quick and easy to eat. There are many healthy snack options out there – and I’ve even listed a few below!
- Don’t Forget a Drink! Along with including a drink to accompany their lunch, you should make sure your child has a clean bottle of water with them every day.
It’s the perfect equation to a healthy and satisfying lunch!
And if you are worried about how you’re going to cram all that goodness into your child’s lunch bag, I have some lunch gear suggestions at the end of this article!
Quick and Easy Lunch Ideas
Ready to get making some super quick lunches for your little ones? Here are some ideas that are sure to please!
1. Ham and Cheese Pinwheels
These tasty little roll-ups use flatbreads instead of regular bread. Simply load up the flatbread with mayo, ham, lettuce and shredded cheese.
Roll them up, cut them, and hold them in place with toothpicks.
2. Homemade Pizza Pockets
This four ingredient lunch is sure to be a hit with the kiddos! Canned pizza dough (think Pilsbury) is divided into six sections, filled with sauce, pepperoni and cheese and folded into triangles.
Bake them up the night before and keep a few spares in the fridge for multiple lunches!
3. Broccoli Cheese Cups
This quick and easy lunch idea also uses only four ingredients: broccoli, Ritz crackers, cheese and egg. I’m sure you have all of these things in your kitchen already!
Chop the broccoli, crumble the crackers and mix them together with the egg. Place in a muffin tin and top with cheese before baking.
4. Grilled Cheese Roll-Ups
If your kids love grilled cheese sandwiches, they’ll love the roll-up version. You can send these along with some tomato soup or a bit of ketchup to dip them in.
Flatten out the bread using a rolling pin and top with sliced cheese. Roll them up, spread on a little butter and fry them up in the frying pan.
5. Pasta Salad
Not many students have access to a microwave to heat up tasty lunches, so sending something that is meant to be cold is the perfect solution!
Choose your child’s favorite pasta, dressing and veggies. Cook and cool the pasta then mix it all together.
This is one of those lunches your child can personalize – so you know they will actually eat it!
6. Sandwich Kabobs
A lot of parents try to avoid sending sandwiches in order to ensure their child is eating a healthier lunch. However, you can easily incorporate healthy ingredients with sandwiches.
Simply cut one sandwich into four pieces and slide them onto a wooden skewer along with cheese and fruit such as apple and grape.
7. Mini Pancakes
Breakfast for lunch? Yes, please!
These tiny pancakes are super quick to make and can easily be sent in your child’s lunch. Add in some strawberries and a bit of syrup for dipping.
Want to make them a bit healthier? Sneak some vegetable or fruit purée into the batter. Just make sure the vegetable you choose is sweet and blends with the flavor of the pancake.
Pancakes freeze really well, so you can make a large batch at once and give them a light toasting before packing them up.
8. Cucumber Sandwiches
You can eliminate bread from the sandwich equation by using slices of cucumber to hold together ingredients such as ham and cheese.
You’ll need to use toothpicks to keep these cute little sandwiches together – or you can opt for lettuce leaves instead of cucumber to make a breadless sandwich.
9. Lunchbox Sliders
Did you know that pitas come in itty-bitty kid-friendly sizes?
Imagine the possibilities! You can pretty much stuff these little guys full of anything and pack them up in your kid’s lunch box.
If you happen to serve up hamburgers for supper during the week, you can use a leftover patty to make little mini hamburgers.
Otherwise, any sandwich stuffings are fair game for mini pita pockets.
You can easily send along a salad in your child’s lunch. Just put all the salad ingredients in one container and the dressing in another.
Add cooked chicken or beef to add some protein to the meal.
This lunch is super easy for your kids to mix up and enjoy!
Every mom knows the value of leftovers and there’s nothing wrong with sending them along as your child’s lunch.
If you have something like a thermos, you can easily heat up the food in the morning and it will be nice and warm for your little one come lunch time.
12. The Smorgasbord
When all else fails, you can always just throw together a variety of healthy snacks for your child to pick at.
As long as you include filling foods such as vegetables and proteins, you can really just throw in whatever works for you and your child.
As a busy mom, you’re going to need smorgasbord days!
Super Simple and Healthy Snacks
While the occasional treat, such as cookies or candy, in your child’s lunch will do no harm, you want to make sure the majority of what they have to snack on is healthy.
Or, at the very least, not just empty calories and sugar.
Here are some healthy snack ideas that are easy to put together and easy for your child to eat:
- Celery sticks and a peanut butter alternative
- Baby carrots/carrot sticks and reduced-fat ranch dressing
- Chopped strawberries and yogurt
- Hard-boiled egg and grape tomatoes
- Whole wheat crackers and hummus
- Sliced apples and caramel sauce
To ensure your child’s safety during snack and lunchtime, be sure to cut foods such as grape tomatoes and grapes in half to avoid a choking hazard.
Bonus: Get the Gear
Making lunches quick and easy is much easier when you have the gear to pack it in!
Stocking up on sectioned containers means you can pack up a lunch for each day of the week, saving you a whole lot of time.
Just don’t feel that you have to impress your child by arranging their food into animal shapes or other fun designs to make the meal special.
Save your time by leaving a little note in their lunch bag – a great reminder that you’re thinking about them while they are at school!
Here are some ideas for lunchbox gear that will save you a ton of time:
Bento boxes are perfect for sectioning off different food choices in one container, instead of loading up your child’s lunch bag with every tiny container you can find.
While some styles are super fancy (and a little pricey), you can easily find simple designs that come in multipacks – meaning that you can pack up a week’s worth of lunches!
To see what my twins love to use for their Bento Box check out my post!
A thermos is a lunchbag’s best friend when it comes to sending warm food to school.
You can use it for those leftovers I mentioned above or a can of soup if you need a really quick and easy lunch for your kiddo.
Kids should have water that is easily accessible during the day, so it’s best to send them along with a water bottle.
When choosing a design, be sure to grab one that is easy to clean. This probably means avoiding styles that have a straw (I learned this after two years of my twins going to school with thermoses with straws!).
While most are dishwasher safe, not everyone has a dishwasher, so you want to make sure you can easily clean it by hand.
Water bottles sent to school should be cleaned every day.
Now that you have all this cool gear, you need something to pack it up in!
You’ll want to make sure you get a lunch bag that will not only fit your child’s lunch, but also fit into their bookbag.
If you decide to use bento boxes, there are lunch bags designed to accommodate their shape and size.
Otherwise, you can pick up a bookbag and lunch bag set so you know the lunch bag will fit inside.
All Set For School?
Planning and organizing school lunches can be a real pain but the key is to keep things simple. Healthy lunches don’t have to be an elaborate affair.
Don’t fret about crafting the perfect lunch for your little one – do you know how many kids will eat healthy foods at schools that they refuse to eat at home?
The answer: most of them.
And if you end up sending your kid with a bologna sandwich for lunch, that’s okay too.
Your turn! What’s your go-to school lunch for your kiddo?
Share your ideas in the comments!