school lunch ideas

5 Tips for Making School Lunch Fun Again

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School’s been in session for a while now. That means months of packing lunch boxes with as many variations on a sandwich as we can think of. We bet you and your kids are both tired of the same-old, same-old. To help break out of the sandwich cycle, we have a few simple tricks to help you jazz up your little’s lunch.

Wrap it up

school lunch ideasphoto by ohallmann / CC BY

When the sandwich reaches its limit…we call it a wrap. Rice paper, flour tortilla, pita bread, lettuce or nori. We mix it up with fillings and use it as a way to get our kids to try new flavour combinations because everything is more fun in a wrap! We cut them up in tiny pieces almost like sushi, or leave them more hand-sized depending on the fillings. Some great combinations include:

  • Salami, cheese and veggies on a flour tortilla
  • Wow butter and banana or jam on a flour tortilla
  • Hummus and cheese and greens in a pita
  • Rice noodles, mango, shrimp and lettuce on a rice paper wrap
  • Rice and cucumber in nori

Break out the Bento

school lunch ideas
photo by Melissa / CC BY

Bento boxes are fantastic. Self-contained magical lunch kits that hold oh so much. Using different containers or sections to include a wonderful assortment of healthy snacks. Perfect for the grazer or active eater. We like the idea of lunch being a presentation. An experience. After all, we eat with our eyes. We aren’t suggesting a complex bento creation that involves characters and background scenes, because who has time for that? What we are suggesting is that you be inspired by them. Happy Little Bento, Bento Lunch, and More than your Average Mom have lots of great tips and ideas for making lunch fun. The key is lots of simple, healthy food ideas presented in an appealing way. We explore dollar stores for tiny stainless steel and glass containers, hit Daiso for bento accessories or explore Fenigo for their great collection of Bento gear. Egg Molds and Nori Cutters two of our favourite accessories.

Get Global

arancini rice balls recipe

When we really get sandwiched out, we like to explore the rest of the world for lunch ideas. We love to expose our kiddos to different flavours and foods from around the world, and lunch is the perfect time to do that. We find our kids are more interested in trying new things when they are around their friends. New foods get snacked on at lunch because we aren’t there watching. Think curries, noodle dishes, stews and more. With all the great thermal containers available, there is no end to the awesome item that can be packed in lunches that are outside the traditional North American sandwich box.

One of our new favourite lunch items is truly gloBALL (hee hee). We have been inspired by both the Italian arancini di riso and Japanese onigiri. Rice balls are easy for little fingers to grab and can be filled with any number of assorted goodies.

Here is our kiddo’s favourite rice ball recipe.

Change the packaging

school lunch ideas

We like to play around with different containers and bags to keep our kids engaged and us too. Who wouldn’t love a shiny new lunch kit? We like to think of it as a bit of a lunchtime makeover. Get a whole new lunch bag or backpack, just to mix it up.

Send a warm hug in meal form

school lunch ideasphoto by themarmot /CC BY

We all too often send something cold for lunch. But why not break out the thermos and send a nice warm midday meal for your little? You can repurpose last night’s leftovers or make something in the morning if you have time. We love to send mac and cheese with our kids. It’s a classic for a reason, it’s super tasty! This easy cheesey version is always a hit in our house . And here’s a tip from a seasoned thermos veteran: heat the thermos up before filling with hot food to keep your lunchtime meal nice and warm. To heat, place boiling water in the thermos and close for 15 to 30 minute before packing up lunch.

Above all…have fun! And while you are at it, why not make your own lunch at the same time. There is no reason you have to have boring sandwiches anymore either.

Yo, mama! Looking for more great food ideas for your family? We’ve got you covered:

By: Erin Jeffery

Featured image credit: photo by Melissa / CC BY | composite by yoyomama

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2 Comment
  1. Kelly Shellard 2 years ago

    Suggesting that jelly beans are a sensible and appropriate snack for school is ill considered. That type of sugar, left in teeth all day cannot be a good idea. Poor teacher!

  2. Michelle Hughes 2 years ago

    Hi Kelly, we don’t mention sending jellybeans as treats in this article. Are you referring to the colourful things in the featured image? Those are actually naturally colored chocolate covered sunflower kernels. While sugary treats devoid of any nutritional benefit definitely shouldn’t take a front seat in school lunches, we do think the occasional treat is ok to send, as long as it adheres to your school’s nutritional policies (if they have any).

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