When your kids are away for the day at school, the one piece of home they carry with them is one they’re really looking forward to — lunch. Busy moms and dads pack a little love and a lot of snacks into every lunch bag. But it’s easy to hit an “inspirational slump” when it comes to kids lunch ideas. Here are a few fun and tasty kids lunch ideas to fuel hungry bellies for better learning and nutrition. Don’t worry we have back to school ideas that extend beyond lunchtime, too.
Mix it Up Off the Trail
Lunch ideas for kids often consist of pre-made and prepackaged food. But trail mix makes a great standby with a personal parental touch. Experiment at home to find the nuts, seeds, and dried fruit your child loves. Then make them their very own bag of trail mix to snack on. A reusable silicone food storage bag like Stasher makes the perfect receptacle. It can even be labeled with your child’s name (e.g. “Evan’s Super Secret Fuel Mix”) for a little added fun.
Important note: be sure to check with your child’s school before adding ingredients like peanuts. They aren’t always welcome in lunchrooms due to allergies.
The Best Snack, Bar None
If your child tends to pick out their favorite part of trail mix and leave the rest, a little lunchbox subterfuge can come in handy. Press the same trail mix into “power bars” using a granola bar press like Tescoma’s. Whether it’s left as-is or dipped in melted chocolate for an even more enticing treat, kids love that it looks and feels like a candy bar. Best of all, they can’t pick out their favorite parts, because the mix is all part of each healthy nutrition-packed bite.
A Build-Your-Own Sandwich
Even if the ingredients are essentially the same as a finished sandwich, giving your child the control to pick, choose, and assemble their sandwich makes it a fun and interactive lunch experience. And wrapping ingredients like sliced vegetables and cheese in an eco-friendly sandwich wrap like Buzzee keeps the dreaded “bread soggies” away. It also makes lunch more appetizing. Another “advanced” healthy packed lunch idea is to include a few packets of low-calorie condiments like mustard for added flavor. Or maybe adding “optional crunch” in the form of bean sprouts or lettuce to the mix.
A Crustless PB&J Made with Love
Most parents would love to be more exotic when it comes to new lunch box ideas, but most kids still love the classics. Peanut butter or sun butter with jelly is a time-honored lunch for even the pickiest eaters. But it’s also borderline boring when eaten too often. The next time you’re assembling a PB&J, grab your peanut butter spoon and a wide-mouth drinking glass.
Using a silicone peanut butter spoon like PBSpoon will give you enough placement control to get all the ingredients right in the middle of the bread. Top with another slice of bread and use the open end of the glass to press down and pinch the filled bread center into ravioli-like shape. Pinch or crimp the edges with your fingers and freeze if desired: instant PB&J pocket.
Sharing is Caring
Part of the fun of lunchtime in school is that it’s a communal experience for children. Don’t be afraid to try out some group-oriented lunch ideas, too. Small bundles of kid-friendly snacks like goldfish crackers or grapes make them easy to pass out and trade. This ensures your child’s “main” lunch stays destined for their stomach. A fast, easy bag sealer like Sealabag makes bundling small amounts of these snacks easy, in terms of cost and effort required of busy parents.
A DIY Drink Solution
A lot of the sugar found in children’s diets often comes in the form of drinks, not food. Combat sugary pre-packaged juices by prepping your kids’ lunch ideas at home with a reusable juice box from Drink in the Box. You will save money by buying large bottles for portioning out. And you’ll able to add in fresh fruit for flavor, rather than artificial syrups and powders. Each sip will be better for your child’s health, and you won’t have to worry about non-recyclable packaging, either.
Remember: kids lunch ideas don’t always have to involve hard-to-find ingredients or difficult preparation. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing the forms of foods they already know and love. The best parts of lunch are getting to slow down, eat delicious food, and bond with friends. The lunch you create each day is more than a meal to nourish their bodies, it’s a reminder they’re loved and cared for, too.