4 School lunch hacks kids are sure to love

by Terry Fletcher

Kids are back to school and it’s already one month in, which is mind-boggling to me as I have no idea where the summer went! I have mixed emotions about watching them go back to school as my husband and daughter are teachers, so they are also headed back to school too.

That means a busy, non-stop morning in my household. I have one person leaving the house at 5:30 am, and another at 7:00 am before I leave at 8:00 am. That’s why I begin the year by organizing up a storm leading up to the first day of school. My goal? Packing healthy lunches all year long.

Yes, I am one of those moms!

As we are familiar with, by the time December comes around, lunch barely resembles lunch. I start off really strong, and, that’s a small victory I suppose! I do have a philosophy in our home which works for us when it comes to packing lunches. When my daughter was younger, she had a say as to what went into her lunch.

Well kind of.

Here’s the thing: kids are fickle. One day, they’ll love a certain granola bar or Gogurt and the next day, they despise it.

I don’t know why, but it happens for some odd reason. They tire of certain foods so I try to switch up their choices often, giving them a lot of different options to keep lunchtime interesting.

Therefore, I wanted to share a list of some fun, healthy lunch ideas for the kiddos. Kids are programmed like they are at dinner. They expect the typical four items: a sandwich, fruit, drink and treat.

As well-intentioned as that is, it can get old. (Not to mention, it is hard to get them to actually eat if their lunch isn’t as cool as their friend’s lunch.)

Here are four lunch hacks I personally use to break the boredom and make those meals fun, but before we get started… take Capri Sun off the list for beverages! They average 13 grams of sugar, almost 4 teaspoons. (Sugar is the second ingredient!!)

Now to my list of school lunch hacks.

Option 1

  • Turkey/White American rollup
  • Purple seedless grapes
  • 8 Pringles chips
  • Small cold-water bottle

Get a bag of white popsicle sticks at the dollar store (no sharp points like toothpicks) and let the kids count out their own Pringles (I give them an amount equal to their age).

Freeze the water bottle; it will be good to drink by lunch. (Kids love their small hand-sized bottles.)

Option 2

  • 2-3 pizza cups (let’s call them “cupcakes”)
  • Cutie small orange peeled and sectioned
  • Juice Box

Pizza Cups

  • Bake in muffin tins for 12 minutes
  • Crescent roll pressed in cup
  • Pizza sauce
  • TSP cheese mix
  • Tiny pepperoni

Kids love these! They keep for 4-6 days in a refrigerated Ziploc bag.

Also, peel their fruit!

Pizza cups also tend to be filling so there’s no need for a “fourth” item in this option.

Option 3

  • Cheese quesadilla – cut in quarters
  • Mild salsa
  • Dip: low-fat sour cream or ketchup (yeah, I know but kids do it!)
  • Apple slices (with a little lemon on them to prevent browning)
  • A chocolate Kiss
  • Water bottle

Kids will drink water if their lunch has a kick of spice to it. If you get them the small water bottles that are not too intimidating you can make it a game where you can see how much water can they drink in a day.

Also, one chocolate Kiss sends a message. They will smile for the rest of the day.

Option 4

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • Salt Packet
  • Squeeze applesauce (they can suck to eat it)
  • 2 graham crackers broke into quarters
  • Water bottle

If you can get your kids to eat veggies more power to you, but I’d be willing to bet they come back to you at the end of the day.

I save veggies for dinner and fruit for lunch. The sugar rush to get through the rest of the school day instead of right before bed is always a better option!

Also, when I bought a box of those tiny salt and pepper packets I was amazed at how much I used them when traveling. It gives the kids a bit of an adult feeling when you treat their food like you’d eat it.

Tell them you’re thinking about them

School lunches can also be an opportunity to tell your children you’re thinking about them.

One of the things I really loved doing when my daughter was younger was putting a napkin in her lunch with a note that said: “I love you”. Or “I am so happy I am your mom.” Or “Make it a great day honey.” She came to love these little notes of encouragement and expected it!

When I missed a day, I heard about it when she came home.

“Mommy, where was my note?”

I never forgot after that. As a teacher living at home while she is completing her masters I still make her lunch before she heads out to substitute teach… and I still include a mama note!

What do you love to put in your kid’s lunchbox? We would love to hear your favorite and creative options!

I hope this list of back to school kids lunch ideas helps you while packing school lunches for your kids. Make a great day my friends! XOXO