Stuck in a lunchbox rut? No worries, we’ve got you covered. We’ve searched all around for the most nutritious and delicious lunches that will please the hungry masses. Best of all, these ideas are easy to put together so you can tackle pre-school chaos like a pro parent. Read on for our top picks for how to chow down when school’s on.
photo: What Lisa Cooks
1. “Nachos” with Black Beans
How do you turn lunchtime into a real fiesta? With these easy deconstructed nachos, courtesy of What Lisa Cooks. This idea not only skips the mess of traditional nachos, it can also be thrown together in about 5 minutes. Get the how-to here.
photo: The Pioneer Woman
2. Pinwheel Sandwiches
If all your usual bread sandwiches are feeling a little, well, stale, The Pioneer Woman can help. Not only are these pinwheel sandwiches a creative alternative (seriously, the flavor combos are endless), they’re also simple enough for kids to make. Plus, they’re the perfect size for little lunchboxes. Get inspired here.
photo: Simple as That
3. Pizza Buns
Thanks to Simple As That, you can treat little pizza connoisseurs to a creative ‘za lunch that doesn’t involve foil-wrapped slices. These cheesy buns are simple to whip up (kids can even help with the prep work) and they can be tossed in the freezer for those days when you need a lunch or snack ASAP. Get the recipe here.
photo: A Whisk and Two Wands
4. Peanut Butter & Jelly on a Stick
Sometimes a home run lunch isn’t about reinventing the wheel. Just take this oh-so-clever idea from A Whisk and Two Wands. It’s got all the favorite flavors of the traditional PB&J, but in a kid-friendly kabob form. Alternate your sandwich bites with healthy fruit and you’re all set for school. Learn more here.
photo: The Mom 100
5. Monochrome Lunch
Sometimes you just need to embrace kid food quirks—like when they get attached to one particular color. This genius idea from The Mom 100 groups great green munchies like pesto pasta, broccoli, and grapes (Psst! If your kid is hooked on a different hue, The Mom 100 also has orange and yellow lunches on her blog!).
6. Carrot and Hummus “Sushi” Sandwiches
We love how this idea, found on the UrbanFamily blog, incorporates fun flavors and lots of great grated carrot. It’s perfect for when you want to amp up your kids’ veggie intake–or when you want to pack a lunch that looks impressive but takes minutes to make. Learn more here.
photo: Snap. Eat. Run.
7. Homemade Lunchables
Kids love the DIY aspect of Lunchables (go figure), but those unmade lunches can get pricey. Cue Snap. Eat. Run., which outlines how to make your own cheaper and healthier version of pizza Lunchables. You only need a few minutes to get these ready, and you can even make them ahead of time and toss them in a school bag on the way out the door. Learn more here.
photo: The Girl Who Ate Everything
8. Mini BLT Wraps
What do you get when you take the classic BLT and give it a school lunch twist? These bite-sized rollups from The Girl Who Ate Everything! These are easy to put together and adaptable too, so feel free to get creative with whole wheat tortillas, hummus, sprouts, sliced chicken or whatever else is in the crisper drawer. Learn more here.
photo: Add a Pinch
Think beyond bread! Add a Pinch shows how to include savory applewiches in your little one’s lunch. The filling ingredients include cheddar cheese and peanut butter–but if your kids’ school is a peanut-free zone, you can always sub in other kinds of nut-butter. Get the scoop here.
photo: Wendy Finn
10. Homemade Uncrustables
Step away from the store-bought Uncrustables! You can easily make your own version of this kid-favorite thanks to Wendy Finn. Hint: you don’t need any fancy cutter or equipment, you can make them ahead of time and freeze for later, and you can alternate your fillings for any day of the week. Learn more here.
photo: Hip Foodie Mom
11. Easy Soba Noodles
Talk about using your noodle! This idea from Hip Foodie Mom can be whipped up quickly in the morning and features tasty Asian flavors (Think low-sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, and more.). It’s great for kids who are tired of the ol’ sandwich route, and great for those who have mini lunch containers, too. Get all the tasty details here.
12. Cucumber and Cream Cheese Sammy
Blogger Catherine McCord always has simple and fun ideas to please even the pickiest eaters. These sandwiches from Weelicious channel tea party fare and are a total hit when it comes to school lunches. Just make sure to stash a cold pack in those lunch bags so the cream cheese can stay cool all morning! Learn more here.
What’s your favorite lunch box combo? Share with us in a comment below.
— Abigail Matsumoto