My kids are kinda picky when it comes to packing lunches for school. And when I do find something they like, they tire of it quickly if I send it too often. I want them to eat a good lunch, not just the cookie their friend shared with them, so I have been trying to be creative when figuring out new things for them to take.
Here are a few things I have done -
(these would also work great as lunches to take to work)
They like the "build-your-own-pizza" Lunchables, but paying for them all the time is pretty pricy. So, we decided to make our own pizza kits. We bought some english muffins (I think bagel thins or pita bread would work well too) and some of the mini pepperoni. I already had some sauce and cheese on hand. Then I packaged everything up separately. We bought some cute little tupperware sets at the beginning of the school year just for their school lunches and they work great! We put half an english muffin in one, the sauce in the smallest one, and the cheese and pepperoni in another. (We also tried a hawaiian version, with the mini Canadian bacon pieces, and the little pineapple cups). Huge success! I am doing a happy dance right now! Only problem is - I can't send this everyday or they will get tired of it quick. So, next idea -
My kids are nuts. They don't really like the classic home lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. (I know, right?!) They like peanut butter though. But they like Nutella even better. And they like pretzels. So, I send a little peanut butter and jelly snack version along to school occasionally. But the fruit is on the side, and the nutty butter is the shining star. We like to make it into a dip for the pretzels. Sometimes I use graham crackers instead of pretzels.
Simple and quick - chips and some queso. We buy the cans of nacho cheese, so it's super easy to spoon some into a little container for dipping. Veggies are also great to send along, like carrots or broccoli - so they can dip the veggies in the cheese too!
Garden Salad with cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, baby carrots and some crunchy croutons, with the dressing on the side. Salads are usually best if you let them put it all together at lunch time.
Make an easy cole slaw with a bag of chopped slaw (cabbage, carrots, kale) and a container of poppy seed dressing. Throw in some craisins and nuts too.
Plain pasta salad with olives, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers. Send a little bit of italian dressing with it.
Warm lunches in a thermos - like hot tomato soup, with a cheese stick and some fruit. (or Chicken noodle soup with cheese and crackers)
Try chili in a thermos, and send along cornbread muffins or Fritos and cheese.
Send a small container of hummus, with sides of veggies, like cucumbers, carrots, celery, and grape tomatoes, and some pita chips. I love homemade hummus about 100X better than any store bought hummus. Try my homemade recipe here
Pack plain pasta and send sauce on the side - we like fresh tomato and basil salsa because its best at room temperature. (just dice up some tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and toss in some chopped fresh basil or pesto). Send a roll or veggies on the side.
Baked potato kit with shredded cheese, sour cream, and bacon bits.
Send a brunch - with pancakes or waffles, and a side of syrup and fruit. Or send muffins and fruit - we love banana, zucchini, and pumpkin muffins.
Hot cocoa is a fun thing to send in a thermos on cold days. (Works well with a straw). Love to pair this with a brunch.
Make your own Uncrustables - disclaimer: my kids actually like it sometimes when I make a fun little PB&J sandwich and crimp the sides of the bread so the crust comes off. They work well if you make a lot and freeze them. Then they are grab and go, and have the morning to thaw.
Meat and cheese sandwiches - I usually make these fun by using a cookie cutter to cut something out of the middle, but put the whole thing in a bag or box. They like eating shapes.
Smoothies - make your own fruit and veggie smoothies. You can even freeze them in an empty plastic water bottle, so they can grab and go on those mornings when your are running late.
My kids love yogurt! Especially if they can add fruit and granola. Sometimes we use Gogurts and freeze the whole box, so the yogurt is still cold by the time lunch comes around. Other times, we use other packaged yogurts.
Fruit Dip - this is a favorite. I generally send sliced apples and grapes with a simple dip, like yogurt, or cream cheese and honey. There are lots of different kinds of fruit dip recipes out there. My kids love all of them!
Fruit Salad - easier to send if you have mandarin oranges, kiwi, or berries on hand. They are harder to send with a fruit dip, but make a great fruit salad. I usually send the dressing on the side - which is the same recipes I use for fruit dips. Its great to send some nuts or granola as a topping.
Sushi - if your kids like sushi (oddly, mine do), the veggie and cream cheese ones are great for sending along for lunch, with a little side of soy sauce. (Make it for dinner the night before. See my recipe for making homemade sushi here).
Another version of "sushi" is sending along thinly sliced cucumbers, cream cheese, and thinly sliced fillings, like carrots, bell peppers, apples, spinach, even some lunch meat- and letting them make their own veggie-version sushi at lunch. Making lunch fun to eat can often influence them to eat it.
What are your ideas for home packed lunches?