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Nutritious Back to School Lunch and Snack Ideas for Your Growing Kids

Back to School Lunch Ideas to Fuel Success

In the whirlwind of the back to school routine that has quickly approached us, coming up with quick and easy back to school lunch ideas that strike a balance between being healthy and exciting for kids can seem as daunting as solving a complex math problem. Welcome to the world of back to school meal preparation – where parents are superheroes in disguise, conjuring up lunches that are both wholesome and appealing to their young ones. Fear not, we’re here to unravel this puzzle and present you with bountiful and delicious back to school lunch ideas and quick snack go-tos that will have your kids excited about whipping out their lunchboxes during breaks.

Back to school lunch ideas for growing kids

Creative and Healthy School Lunches

We all know the drill: kids can be quite the critics when it comes to meals. They have an uncanny ability to detect the ordinary from a mile away, and here at the heart of our family kitchen, we’ve embraced that challenge wholeheartedly. For every parent who’s ever struggled to sneak nutritious elements into their child’s lunchbox, we’ve got your back.

Let’s talk snacks for school days – those tiny bursts of energy that keep those growing brains sharp and ready to conquer the day. In my family, our approach centers around providing a balanced range of options that will keep my kids eagerly exploring different flavors, textures, and nutritional profiles. My kids even make jokes often about the many meal rules I have that keep them on a balanced diet, especially when they’re in school.

The Delicate Art Form of School Snack Ideas

Our household back to school snack go-tos are fresh fruits like grapes (a major plus if they’re frozen, which is great for hot summer days!), apple slices paired with nut butter, plums, pluots, peaches, and the tangy sweetness of clementines (a crowd favorite with the kids).

When the midday hunger pangs hit, it’s important to have options that excite and satisfy your young ones. We’re big, big fans of individually bagged snacks that effortlessly combine flavor and nutrition. They’re a super convenient addition to the back to school lunch ideas.

Our current rotation of favorite snacks:

Good & Gather Freeze-Dried Strawberry Slices

Bare Apple, Banana, and Coconut Crispy Fruit Chips

The Daily Crave Veggie Straws with Himalayan Pink Salt

Oh Snap! Pickling Co. Individually Packed Dill Pickle Bites

The Original Mini Babybel Cheese

Drizzlicious Mini Rice Cakes – the kids love the whole line of these sweet snacks

Trader Joe’s Organic Roasted Seaweed with Sea Salt

ONE (1) Brand Protein Bars

Clif Protein Bars

Robert Irvine’s FitCrunch Protein Bars

Quaker Rice Crisps – Multipack

Golden Grahams S’mores Chocolate Marshmallow Bars

KIND Bars – Milk Chocolate Chunk is a crowd favorite

Trader Joe’s – World’s Puffiest White Cheddar Corn Puffs

Lenny & Larry’s The Complete (Protein) Cookie

Good & Gather Original Apple Fruit Puree Pouches

How To Get Kids To Eat More Vegetables

One of the biggest challenges of packing back to school lunches for your kiddos is finding solutions on how to get the kids to eat more vegetables in their diet. Introducing vegetables might sound like a daunting task, but we’ve cracked the code to make them a favorite in your kids’ lunchbox. My hack for getting the kids to eat more veggies is by pairing ones like mini carrots and cucumbers with individual cups of velvety hummus and/or guacamole. They’re crunchy and colorful, and veggie snack cups turn into playful dippers that will have your kids devouring their greens without a fuss.

Choosing The Right Lunch Box Containers Can Make A Huge Different

The right lunchbox can turn mealtime from an ordinary back to school lunch idea into a thrilling adventure. Our weapon of choice? Bento boxes – the superhero of lunch containers. With clever compartments, they keep each element of the meal organized, fresh, and ready to be devoured. Poppy, our oldest in her preteen era, requires a bento box that matches her sense of style with being large and functional enough to hold all her yummy snacks and meals. We’ve found that for Hudson and Holland, the two younger ones, Bento boxes are an all-in-one solution to mealtime chaos.

The Kids’ Favorite Bento Boxes for School:

Cat & Jack Dino Camo Bento Box

Cat & Jack Flower Skateboarding Bento Box 

Room Essentials 40oz 3pc Bento Box with Utensils

The Secret to Customizing Meals To Your Child's Preferences

Crafting the perfect school lunch is not just about nutrition; it’s also about understanding your child’s taste preferences. Our trio – Poppy, Hudson, and Holland – each boasts a unique palate, appetite, and serving size.

For Poppy, she loves a chicken caesar salad with extra croutons plus some pita and hummus for a snack. She usually takes a sandwich with turkey, cheese, and lettuce, along with grapes and raspberries. Poppy loves snacks, too, so she typically packs a protein bar with her favorite freeze dried strawberries.

For Hudson, he prefers an apple, a snack bar, a couple packs of the mini salami sticks, and sometimes he will eat a plain ham and cheese sandwich. Have I mentioned how picky he is?! If it were up to him he’d eat nothing but snacks and junk food all day every day. So it’s important for me to reinforce healthy food options for this kiddo.

For Holland, we usually pack hummus, pita, cucumbers and her favorite: clementines. For her main dish, she is also really enjoying chicken caesar salads lately. For extra protein she sometimes will take the mini packs of salami sticks from Trader Joe’s. During colder weather months, she will use her thermos to take hot items like pesto pasta.

The individuality of each of their appetites inspires us to keep experimenting and discovering new combinations for their school lunch and snack options.

Streamlining the Morning Rush: How To Make An Organized Pantry That Delivers

Mornings can be hectic, and a well-organized pantry is your ally in the daily school lunch-prep hustle. While I’m still mastering the art of preparing school lunches and snacks the evening before, I feel confident that I’ve gotten my food and pantry organization down to a T. To ensure both my convenience and theirs, I swear by these Natural Wooden Bins and these Wooden Crates from Target that make everything within easy reach, enabling a seamless assembly of lunches for the kids. An extra touch to take the pantry organization to next level are these labels that adorn each bin, reflecting the current snack selection. And for those bulk snacks that need a secure home, I love using these OXO Pop Containers which are airtight superheroes, maintaining freshness and making grab-and-go a breeze. Additionally, the OXO Food Storage line is a must for my baking ingredients and bulk goods like pasta and rice. With a well-organized pantry, the morning rush is met with ease and efficiency.

Best of Luck Mastering Back to School Lunch and Snacks!

The path to a successful school lunch isn’t about adhering to strict guidelines; it’s about embracing variety, creativity, and most importantly, your child’s preferences. With a colorful array of options, cleverly organized lunch boxes, and a pantry that’s always prepared, you’ll be ready to conquer the school lunch challenge like a seasoned pro. Fuel your child’s journey with nourishment, excitement, and endless lunchtime adventures. Because the path to learning starts with a full and happy belly.

Erin Rugala, owner, creative, and designer of Events by Pins and Petals. Full service, luxury event and wedding planner in the Bay Area.

1 Comment

  1. I think there’s nothing wrong with kids school lunches being simple and repetitive…I think it would almost put too much pressure on busy moms to have to make their kids lunches super creative. I think actually focusing on switching up the snacks is more fun cause it makes it a lot easier! I think you could have like 3 main course staples that you rotate and then switch up the snacks and it’ll feel like a totally different lunch each day!

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