Because my husband and I both work full time, packing school lunches is a year-round event at our house.
My husband could eat the same turkey sandwich five days a week forever, but Pumpkin and I need a little more variety. When we first moved back to Arizona, her preschool was fairly strict in its lunch guidelines – a protein, a dairy, a fruit, a vegetable and a grain. (I remember when we did the tour and the school’s director telling me last night’s pizza wouldn’t make the cut.) She’s in a different school and in kindergarten now, but we try to follow those same guidelines to this day.
Here are a week’s worth of our go-to school lunches:
- Whole Wheat Tortilla, Monterey Jack Cheese and Turkey Roll-Up (Make to your preference using different kinds of cheese, or swapping the tortilla for sliced bread, pita bread or a whole wheat bagel.)
- Yogurt (tip: keep these in the freezer until it’s time to leave for school so they stay cold until lunch)
Homemade Chicken Nuggets with Yogurt Dipping Sauce (A recipe from “Clean Eating for Busy Families.” This recipe includes nuts – be sure to check your school’s nut policy before packing any items including nuts in a school lunch.)
- Macaroni and Cheese (This recipe is also from “Clean Eating for Busy Families” and includes cauliflower in the sauce for added goodness. Heat up the morning of and put it into an insulated container to stay warm.)
- Banana Chips
- Hard-Boiled Egg
- Apple Slices
- Avocado Toast (Pumpkin will eat a turkey sandwich but it is not acceptable for me to put turkey on her avocado toast, even when it’s made like a sandwich to decrease the mess-factor)
- Apple Slices
- Almond Butter (Be sure to check your school’s nut policy before packing any items including nuts in a school lunch.)
A couple of things that help me save time are to use dinner leftovers for lunch (the macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets are examples of that), and to do as much weekend prep as I can. When I have enough free time on the weekend, I slice and/or cube the cheese (less expensive than buying cheese sticks), portion the fruits and vegetables into individual bags and containers, boil and peel eggs, etc. Sometimes I even make two or three dinners on a Sunday to give us more leftovers for the week! It doesn’t always happen, but it makes a big difference for the new week when I am able to have a prep day.