Need more ideas for what to pack in your kids school lunch box? Try one of these nutritious and delicious ideas that don’t take a lot of time.

It’s that time of year again – alarm clocks, school, homework and busy after-school schedules.  Add packing school lunches to that list, and it’s enough to put parents over the edge. I’m with you!

I’m always so organized in the first few weeks of school. I make sure we have a huge supply of pencils, lots or school clothes to choose from, and my refrigerator is stocked with foods to pack healthy lunches. Four weeks in, I’m looking back wondering what happened to my organizational skills.

If your kids are like mine, they’re happy with the same thing in their lunch day after day. That makes it easy – until they get sick of it and never want to see the food again! Then, you have a bigger problem on your hands – you have to find something new that holds up in a lunchbox.  That’s why it’s important to keep variety from the beginning.

To prevent food burnout, rotate through a few favorite lunches, incorporating seasonal produce and new sides on occasion. Try a few of these quick, nutritious lunchbox ideas to minimize boredom and make your mornings easier.

  • Tuna or Chicken Salad Wrap –  filled with vegetables and shredded cheese.  Serve with pretzel sticks
  • Ham or Roast Beef Wrap – roll roast beef or ham inside a tortilla with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese spread or other vegetables.  Serve with blueberries or strawberries.
  • Pasta Salad – mix left-over grain pasta with diced vegetables (such as orange, red and green peppers, onions, celery, snow peas and shredded carrots) and shredded cheese (such as feta, mozzarella, cheddar, Monterey jack).  Serve with grapes.
  • Turkey Sandwich on Whole Wheat – filled with lettuce, tomato and low fat cheddar cheese.  Serve with fresh fruit. Tip: switch it up sometimes by using a wrap or pita in place of bread.
  • Cold Pizza – pizza is one of those foods that many kids will eat cold, making it a great school lunch option. Take your leftovers from the night before and pack a vegetable side-salad to eat with it. Try this homemade pizza  recipe.
  • Bagel Sandwich – whole grain bagel halves with reduced-fat cream cheese.  Top one half with raisins and enjoy a cream cheese and raisin bagel.  Could also be topped with craisins or dried blueberries.  Serve with a handful of mixed nuts and juice.
  • Cottage Cheese and Fruit Plate –  ½ cup cottage cheese served with diced melon (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew).  Serve with 4-6 whole grain crackers.
  • Large Vegetable and Protein Salad: pack a vegetable salad with mixed greens (toss some dark greens ones in there, too), tomatoes, cheese, hardboiled eggs, olives, croutons and whatever other vegetables your child will eat in a salad.  Serve with a banana.
  • Bean Burrito –spread a whole wheat tortilla with homemade refried beans.  Top with diced tomatoes, scallions diced green pepper and shredded cheddar cheese.  Roll up and serve with a peach or banana.

A few lunchbox tips:

  • Depending on the food, you may want to keep items separate until it’s time for your child to eat. Teach them how to assemble their own salad, or burrito, for example. That helps to keep foods crisp and helps items to stay cooler.
  • Invest in a firm, high-quality lunchbox that has some build-in temperature control. That helps to keep cold foods cold.
  • Pack an ice pack in the lunch box to maintain a safe temperature of the food
  • Lastly, don’t forget healthy hydration.  Skim milk or water will keep your child hydrated as they work hard throughout their day.

Check back next week for ideas on how and what to pack if your child prefers a hot school lunch.

Do you have a favorite school lunch that you pack for your kids? Share it in the comments below.

You might also like these posts, sharing lunch box ideas for back to school or lunch box gadgets to make packing a school lunch easier.

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