It’s almost time for kids to head back to school, which also means LUNCHES!!! And lots of them. If you tend to cringe at cafeteria food or not knowing what kind of meat exactly is in the pre packed variety, but don’t know what else to pack, well, we’ve got you covered! Today I’m sharing 7 totally fun and doable packed lunches for kids that they will actually love to eat (as in, you won’t be opening a full lunch box at the end of a day, which is always total bummer and leaves cranky haangry kids). Plus, we’re listing all kinds of variations too, so you can keep packing away until your heart’s content knowing your kiddos will actually eat the goods in front of them, because they’re just fun to eat! Oh yeah, and you can totally make one for yourself too, permission granted 😉
You’ll notice that none of our lunches above are actually sandwiches made with bread. Though I love a good PB+J, after a few days, even I get tired of the same thing on repeat. The same goes for your kids and the key to keeping them munching out of their own lunch box is to mix it up and keep it creative!
Think outside the square of sliced bread and roll up your kiddo’s food like sushi. The options are almost limitless, just let your imagination run wild. Try to add items from two-three different food groups so there are a variety of nutrients. You can use just about anything from fruits (banana as shown above, strawberries, melon, etc), meats (deli meats, hot dogs, etc), wraps (tortillas, deli meat, lettuce, etc) and add in some kind of spread to keep it all sticky and held together (hummus, peanut butter, cream cheese, goat cheese, etc). I have to say, I like these just as much as my kids do, and Aliyah asks to make the banana roll up shown above a few times a week, so that’s saying a lot!
Kids always love when they can build it themselves… and I’m sure you’re familiar with those sad faces when we pass over the lunchables at the grocery store, so give them the ingredients and let them get creative. Take your cue from that grocery aisle and create your own DIY pizza or cheese and crackers lunch for them to build themselves. My girl loves parfaits and is ecstatic when I put the ingredients for one in her lunch bag so she can mix it up herself. Plus, I cut out a ton of added sugar by giving her plain or vanilla organic yogurt along with our homemade granola and a few frozen berries, than if I were to pack a pre-made yogurt cup.
Pack simple, nutritious foods in a new way and it will intrigue your littles into tasting it. When in doubt “kabob” it. Use toothpicks, popsicle sticks or skewers (just cut the tips off after). Have the ingredients for a sandwich? Put it on a stick instead and they may just eat every bit! Make it savory or sweet, and as an added bonus, throw in a cup for dipping (yogurt for fruits and hummus, ranch, etc. for savory).
If you want to see those fruits and veggies disappear, give them something to schmear. Create a dipping station by sending a couple containers of their favorite spreads and a whole slew of items to dip! Some of our favorites include hummus, yogurt, sunflower seed butter, almond butter, cream cheese, white bean dip… try a few and see what your kids like the best, you might just be surprised.
You can make fun “sammies” out of almost anything, you just have to be willing to think outside the breadbox. Try coring and slicing apples horizontally, cucumbers, waffles, zucchini, and pretty much whatever else you can think of! Kids always love an unexpected twist on a classic lunchtime staple.
Snacks You Trust
While I like making as much as I can in my own kitchen so that I know exactly what is in the foods we eat, I also have a practical and realistic side that knows kids get hungry at the most inopportune times and sometimes I need a little help filling in the gaps. Lately we’ve been trying (and loving) Horizon’s new line up of snack options and either rounding out our lunches with items like their Super Squeeze pouches (with 5 grams of protein!) or keeping items on hand to nosh on when the need arises, which is often. My kids are SUCH snackers.
So tell me, what are your favorite lunch time creations? Though school is right around the corner, we aren’t waiting for the packed lunchbox to enjoy our mealtimes, and I find that my kids eat so much more (and such a larger variety of foods) when we make it fun and exciting. I’d love to hear your secrets at the lunch table!
This conversation is sponsored by Horizon. The opinions, photos and text are all mine.