Back-to-School Lunch Ideas

Wow, is it already that time of year? Time to break out your trusty lunch pails and get to work on lunches! If you are fresh out of ideas for what to pack, the Carnival of Recipes is actually doing a back-to-school edition and in it are lots of great ideas for main dishes & treats! This included our post on making pizza in your bread machine (worth a read if you haven’t been here before!)

I make lunches for both my husband and our son (who attends preschool). For my husband, I just box up whatever we are having that evening for dinner, for his lunch the next day. I purchased sectioned containers from the Dollar Tree and fill it with lots of different foods for him. I also try to purchase him twelve packs of off-brand soda that he can take to work and drink at his desk. He is one of the few, at his job, that actually pack food to eat. The savings for him to eat those lunches is huge! Most people average around seven dollars a day to eat out at lunch (that would be the cheap dishes!) and he saves that money for our family each day. What a man! We do have a little money set aside that he can use to eat lunch out (if that is how he wants to spend it) so once in awhile he joins the gang at work, but for the most part we reap the rewards financially by him eating at work. The funny thing is, people always want to know what he is eating and I think some even may be a teeny bit jealous (I am just speculating OF COURSE!) that he eats so well.

As for our son, his lunch is easy to pack. He likes peanut butter and jelly…just about every single day. Sunday night, I just make up a week’s worth of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pop them in the freezer. In the morning, we get one of those out and it is unthawed by lunch time. This saves me from trying to make a sandwich every single day. Another time saver is to have baggies of chips, carrots, raisins, etc… already prepared so that I can just grab and go.

Other great lunch ideas are:

1) Make your own Lunchables. Cut, with a small cookie cutter, out cheeses and meat to fit on crackers. Purchase sectioned containers and have your child make their own stackable lunch.

2) Hard boil eggs to take to school. These are such a great source of protein and these also can be made ahead and kept in the fridge (just be sure to keep them separated from the raw eggs!!)

3) Pita pizzas- cold or hot (depending on if your school offers a microwave) can be a delicious treat for school. Use whole wheat pitas and low-fat cheeses on these to cut down on the calories.

4) If you have a preschool age child, try and cut their sandwiches out in different shapes. We keep a set of cookie cutters in our silverware drawer and I use these a lot to make things more fun.

When my son first started school, it was hard on me (more than him) so I would stick a picture of myself & his dad in his lunchbox. He looked forward to opening that and seeing a picture of us and it made me feel close to him, when I wasn’t. For older kids, a sweet note can be a wonderful addition to their lunch. We have free lunchbox notes that you can print out and write special messages to them. Don’t limit these just to your children though, sometimes it is nice to tuck a note in for your hubby too! Like, “I totally love it when you take the trash out! You are the man!” or “Thanks for putting the seat down on the toilet- I love that about you!”

If you are looking for more back-to-school ideas, visit my article on streamlining your morning routine and how to stay organized once the papers start rolling in!!

Finally, does your lunchbox stink? Sometimes if it has been sitting a long time closed, it can take on a..not so pleasant odor. Pop it in the top shelf of your dishwasher and run it. It will take that smell right out.

Feel free to share your lunchbox favorites in our comments section. I need the inspiration too!

Published August 07, 2006 by:

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of You can read all about her here.

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