6 Ways to Upgrade School Lunch

It’s a daily challenge for moms and dads everywhere: coming up with quick and easy lunchbox ideas that you kids will actually eat.


And while you’d love to wow your tots with a Pinterest-worthy spread, you don’t always have the time to make that cute bento box meal. To the rescue: these fast and fun ideas for your kids’ lunches that will be the talk of the cafeteria.

Cut it out, literally.

Ho-hum, another PB&J. Kid and parents alike love sandwiches—they’re tasty and fast to make and the ingredients are usually on hand in the pantry or fridge. But instead of presenting a square turkey and cheese, why not cut it into an adorable shape? Yup, dust off those Christmas cookie cutters and give them a new job. Stamp out stars, hearts and trees—and then watch your kids gobble up lunch. And as a special treat, you could add a Happy Day cookie card from Cheryl’s.

Photo Credit: Jaclyn Ferrara

Put it in a jar.

Those old spaghetti sauce and Mason jars in the drawer can be put to good use at lunchtime. And because the packaging is clear, your kid can see the colorful (and delicious) layers you’ve designed. Gather your child’s favorites and then create a masterpiece. For example, you might start with a black beans on the bottom, then add shredded lettuce, grated cheese, a few sliced tomatoes, chunks of avocado and crumbled tortilla chips. The result? A taco jar lunch!

Photo Credit: Christina Stiehl

Make your own “lunchables”

Why pay $4 for a tiny box of ham and cheese when you can craft your own for much less? Plus, you can up the health factor over the premade grocery version by including fruits, veggies and meats with less salt. To make your own, roll up slices of ham or roast beef along with Swiss cheese and nestle them in a plastic container. Add in a few cucumber rounds, a small bunch of grapes and a buttercream frosted cookie for dessert. Bon appetit!

Photo Credit: Becky Hardin

This is a stick-up!

You can’t exactly send marshmallows on a stick to school, but you can definitely deconstruct your kid’s sandwich (or leftovers) and then skewer it for his lunch box. Bamboo sticks used for grilling or regular toothpicks will work well. To make lunch on a stick, thread pieces of cooked chicken, a cube or two of Feta, chunks of watermelon or a couple of strawberries.

Photo Credit: Christina Stiehl

Flatten it out.

It’s time for a Flat Sammy! No, not Stanley—we mean sammy, as in sandwich. Switch up your kid’s usual bread choice by replacing it with a flour or corn tortilla. You can layer quesadilla fixings quickly, brown in it a small skillet and then wrap it in foil for lunch. Filling ideas are endless, including leftover pork with Jack cheese and salsa or mashed kidney beans with cheddar and sour cream.

Photo Credit: Krissy Winnick

Accessorize it.

Don’t forget to include a side dish or snack in your kids’ lunch—it’s a long day! Alongside the ideas above, toss in a bag of edamame with sea salt, some trail mix, or celery sticks spread with cream cheese and topped with nuts or raisins.

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