27 answers

Need Lunch Ideas for 1St Grader

I need some ideas on what to pack for my son's lunch. He has been buying lunch throughout kindergarten and the beginning of 1st grade. Now after eating lunch with him yesterday, I realize he has hardly any time to eat his lunch once he gets through the line. I need some easy ideas because I work full time and getting out the door each morning is a challenge already. He doesn't like PB&J so that's out. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

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I buy my son, who is in the first grade also, lunchables and put a banana or something like that in his lunch box and capri sun and he loves it.

More Answers

Make sure you have 2-4 small ice packs.
I send my dtr w/ a different kind of meat & cheese sandwich cut into cool shapes. Use either cookie cutters or the sandwich cutters(they have a dinosaur one). No mayo on it tho...just in case it does get warm.
I send her with either a jello or pudding cup. I try to toss in a small banana or orange.
Sometimes I make oatmeal muffins or I buy them.
Sometimes a small snack baggie of chips or cookies.

Get a bin of snacks. Let your son pick out 2-3 decent thigns to put in his lunch. Make sure to change it up tho otherwise he WILL get bored!

I can never get good lunches packed in the mornings! I have to make them the night before! I got this cool thing called a laptop lunchbox which really helps, but you don't need it to pack a great lunch, however I used to go to this site called Vegan Lunch Box and I go there from time to time to restock on great ideas, the comments and links from there and from the laptop lunchbox site have awesome pictures, ideas, recipes that are healthy and varied and mainly structured around picky eater children. You'll find plenty of inspiration if you look those things up! Have fun!

Peanut Butter and marshmallow creme or Nutella, cheese and crackers, yogurt, cheese sticks, raw fruit and tiny raw vegetables, fiber drinks that add to water, yogurt drinks, almonds (raw and no oil or salt and 11 is a serving), soft rolls with meat and cheese or whatever he likes, but small enough to satisfy and eat in a short length of time, dried fruit and cereal bagged up in a snack bag, etc.
V. B.

Both my 1st grader and my 4-yr old love to take a quesadilla for lunch. I can take a tortilla, spread refried beans on half and sprinkle with pre-shredded cheese. Fold it in half and it is ready after 30 sec in the microwave. Add some fruit or veggie (grapes or tomatoes are tops in our house), little bit of goldfish and now a piece of Halloween candy for dessert an she is set.

My son gets a ham or cheese sandwich cut exactly the way he likes, or cheese and crackers, or a string cheese & pretzels... this is always accompanied with about 5-8 grapes or a peeled clemintine... which ever ones he likes easy to unwrap and eat. He also gets a apple or lemonade juice box etc.

I wrap most of the stuff in clingwrap and put in his lunchbox.

My husband usually takes care of the sandwich so my job is the fruit and drink.. (of course if it's you doing it all, you could do it the night before so long as it is air tight - I think)

I buy my son, who is in the first grade also, lunchables and put a banana or something like that in his lunch box and capri sun and he loves it.

There is a brand of tortilla made of whole wheat flour, but it's still very soft. I buy those for my daughter's lunches and fill them with all kinds of different stuff. Sometimes I spread mayo on the inside and add tuna salad, then roll it up like a burrito. Sometimes I spread pizza sauce and fill it with chopped up pepperoni and shredded mozzarella. Sometimes I spread mustard and mayo and add lunch meat of one kind or another. I've even spread it with peanut butter and added banana ... the possibilities are endless. I think she likes it because it's rolled up. Sometimes the simplest things ...!

I have a first grader too! Here's what works for us besides pb&j..

I put together our own "lunchables" with some crackers, cut up ham or turkey sandwich meat, string cheese, and often a small fruit cup of mandarin oranges, or baggie of grapes and then a juice box or pouch.

My daughter loves a regular sandwich too but it gets old to get the same thing-so the chips get swapped out for different types or with carrot sticks. One mini or bite size candy bar tops it off once in a while to make it worth looking forward to and when I have a quick moment (which is very rare) sometimes I'll write her a quick note in words she can now read about how I love her/to do her best/to be nice to others/to have a fun day, etc. Teachers in the cafeteria usually take the note away and read it to her although she can read it herself. It annoys me but she doesn't mind becuase she's busy trying to wolf down her food.

Then too, after a night of pizza, I'll send two slices of pizza with juice or water to drink. I have some gel packs I stick in to keep things cool so nothing has a chance to go bad.

I try really hard not to go the route of expensive lunchables, fruit snacks that are so much sugar and I work on making things healthy. We do whole grain breads, and hormone/antibiotic free milk and so forth. It's paid off already because my daughter is one of the few first graders who isn't having to deal with body odor yet.

I realize it's different for boys though. So anyway, hope all this helps you out! Mornings are nuts for us so I make lunches the night before. The lunchables I put together are put together enmasse-so there's several just waiting. :) We also have several lunch boxes and several gel thingys so we can grab a new one if one is dirty or can't find the favorite, etc. Makes life simpler too!

A napkin or wet wipe and plastic fork for fruit cups are included when needed. So far, she's never gotten in trouble for a plastic fork so hopefully they won't ever go there!

First off, get a thermos. Then you can send anything from soup, chili, spaghetti o's, other pastas, the list gets better. My sons's favorite pasta is plain pasta with a little bit of butter and salt & pepper mixed in. Make sure that you put their name on it.

My son loves taking hot dogs to school. Make sure that you toast the bun real good then wrap in tin foil.

Loose meat sandwiches are good. My son loves tuna fish sandwiches.

We have sent ham wraps and chicken wraps.

He really loves it when I make fried chicken for dinner, any leftovers and he takes to school.

He has also taken meatloaf for lunch and really likes leftover pizza.

make your own lunchable or buy lunchables.

Save ketchup and mustard packets that he can take to school for some food. Works well.

For sides:
veggie sticks
fruit snacks
trail mix
peanut butter crackers
vanilla wafers
cant think of any more right now.

My son's year in kindergarten he took mostly pb& j to school and had school lunch every friday, last year we started including more variety and and had school lunch every other week. This year, he eats a school lunch whenever I don't feel like it (about once a month). He actually says that he likes my lunches better than the schools and he will eat most anything.

Luchables are quick and hassle free. If you want something less expensive why not try crackers and cheese, breakfast bars, veggies and dip, cut up fruit, individual applesauce or pudding cups, or yogurt. I make my son's lunch the night before because I don't have time in the mornings.

Try soup- Pop t in a thermos and there you go- also- why not just take him and allow him to come up with some new ideas he already know he likes-
apples and dip- caramel- veggies and ranch dip
Make some pigs in the blankets in the morning and they'll stay warm til lunch- my dgt didnt like sandwiches either- make a salad with ham and chees in it- all cut up and ready to go- pita wraps.
Mac and cheese

Hi R.. There are a lot of good suggestions, but I must strongly encourage you to read the nutrition label on a lunchable before you decide to send them with your son. They are high in fat, astronomical in sodium and have little nutrition.

Our family packs our lunches together each evening and we use a simple method to ensure the lunch is nutritious. Our food needs to be colorful with one lean meat, one vegetable, one fruit and one dairy. The carbohydrate is usually part of the soup, the sandwich or roll-up. Also, let your son pick his own foods. When my son gets to pick his own foods, he eats more of his lunch. Then, whatever food he doesn't eat, he keeps it in his lunchbox so we will know if he's getting enough nutrition.

Good luck! I think you are making a great long-term, life altering decision for your son. Good decision.

My mom used to pack a piece of fruit (apple is easy) and sandwich. Usually turkey or ham.

If you heat up soup either in the microwave or on the stove and put it in a thermos it should still be warm at lunchtime. You can also try ham, turkey, salami sandwiches and you don't have to neccessarily add lettuce and tomato etc. Crackers and turkey/ham/salami/pepperoni is also pretty good. Yogurt is ok if they eat lunch kinda early in the day. If he likes cold pizza that's a good one too. Hope this helps!:)

I agree about the lunchables - I found them at Walmart last week for just $1 each (the small ones). You can also buy small 100% juice boxes from Juicy Juice or Minute Maid. Also, I try to buy a lot of pre-packaged stuff as long as it isn't too expensive - boxes of raisins, single serve sugar-free puddings, goldfish cracker packets, granola bars (DON'T get the ones covered in fudge! Bad for you!!), etc. I know it's tough getting a simple lunch ready. Many nights I pack the entire lunch the night before, and just make the sandwich in the morning. Hope that helps.


surf the net for school lunches.

get the lunches ready the day before. then in the mornings, it will be grab and go. easy.

How about Bologna sandwich, or turkey/ham sandwich, hot dog? I always liked soup in my thermos. Maybe some crackers with cheese and pepperoni with an apple and yogurt/pudding as someone suggested. Maybe a pita pocket with meat and lettuce in it, or pepperoni. Lunchables.

You might try packing lunchables in a cooler/lunchbox for him with a freezer pack thing to keep it cold. Or pack his lunch the night before. See if you can find mayo and mustard in the packet at Sams or Costco, then he can add that to the sandwich when he is ready to eat it. Most lunches like this can be packed the night before, just put the dyr stuff on the bread or put it all in separate baggies. The lunchables are great because they have a capri sun and a desert in them (if you get the bigger one in the box) plus there is a nice variety. I use these for my toddlers when we travel.

Hi R.. Go buy a small thermos, made for food, heat it in the sink with hot water for about 5 min. My kids love to take spaghetti o's, and soups to school. My daughter wants chicken noodle soup almost everyday. They also love to take pizza, leftover from the night before, yogurt, and a salad with a small container of their favorite dressing on the side. I know it sounds like my kids are health nuts, but they are not. They do love to have something warm to fill their tummies in the Winter months. So, give soup a try! You can even have your son help you make a special recipe and brag to his friends that it is his own creation! Good luck!!

R., Lunchables are the greatest. They have the ones with cheese and crackers and a small snack or there are the larger ones and a little more expenseive ($2) with pizza, hot dogs, turkey and cheese, ham and cheese, etc... They even have a drink and snack in the $2 ones. You just plop the box in the lunch box and send him on his way. My 1st grader loves them. Good luck.

I pack my daughter lunchables (the crackers/cheese or nachos), or uncrustables on those really crazy mornings. I bought the uncrustable round maker thing from Pampered Chef so I also make her our own uncrustable with ham & cheese or I use cookie cutters and make cute shapes. She also likes roll ups (cut the crust off, flatten 1 piece of bread and put mayo, cheese slice & ham/turkey slice then roll it up and cut into thirds). Or we do cream cheese and jelly sandwiches. We've done grilled cheese and wrap in foil to stay warm, or quesadillas. We haven't done this yet, but you could do breakfast for lunch and do 1 or 2 frozen waffles that are warmed in the toaster oven (and I guess you could cut them in strips for dipping), bacon strips wrapped in foil to stay warm and maybe syrup to dip in a tupperware container. For sides I do chips or pretzels or crackers and buy those pb to go cups for dipping, yogurt, pudding, applesauce, cheese sticks and then I do a treat like rice krispie bar or a chocolate kiss. I've eaten lunch with my daughter a few times and it's unbelievable how fast they're supposed to eat (she's 1st grade too and eats slowly). One little boy had a sandwich, chips, cheese stick and a drink and all he ate was 1/2 his chips and his drink. It would be nice if the teachers kind of reported back on what the kids really ate although I'm sure it's hard to keep track of. I try and tell my daugther to not throw it away (unless it's yogurt or pudding or something) and that way I can see what she's eaten.

First off, make the lunch the night before-it's the only way to get out the door on time. How about turkey roll-ups (just slices rolled up plain or with some grated cheese inside) or sandwiches cut out into fun shapes with those cookie cutters you can buy at Michael's? My daughter loves those. Also, string cheese that you can buy at Sam's, apples, cheese-its or graham crackers and juice box or capri sun. Sometimes I get those Lunchables at Sam's too or on sale at the grocery. Hope that helps. Good luck!

I always pack my son a package of peanut butter crackers (my son hates lunch meat), a bag of chips, some kind of fruit, some kind of dessert and either a slice of cheese or a yogurt cup. I prepare everything the night before - the non refrigerated stuff in the lunch box on the counter (including napkin and spoon) and the fridge stuff grouped together in the fridge. Takes me less than a minute to put it all together in the morning.

My sister will heat spaghettios or ravioli and put it in a thermos. If you heat it extra hot in the morning, it's warm still at lunch time. My son just isn't good about bringing home his containers when I put them in there, so I haven't done that yet.

I have a VERY picky 1st grader, too. Last year he ate tuna sandwiches and turkey and cheese sandwiches (don't give him too much tuna -- it has mercury in it! I gave mine one small can a week stretched into 3 sandwiches). This year he won't touch tuna and won't do leftover anything. Ugh! I started making him bean and cheese quesadillas: refried beans and grated cheese between 2 flour tortillas, nuked for 1 minute (they're better baked, but I microwave to save time in the morning), and cut into 8 triangles (small pieces of things seems to be more fun to eat). He likes apples slices with peanut butter, pretzels, and fruit roll-ups for "sides", and Propel flavored water to drink. And this is every day for us, so I'm hoping to use some of the other ideas people sent you! Good luck!

I used to do a trail mix that had a lot of good nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts)with pretzels, raisins, dried cranberries. For added protein I would put a slice of cheese or string cheese or a slice of lunch meat (I like Hormel's natural because it doesn't have any preservatives or other bad stuff). Mine also enjoyed baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, red/yellow bell pepper slices, however she was made fun of a lot because she ate stuff other kids didn't and they gave her a hard time while eating those lunchables...Another favorite was cheese cut in the shapes of things. Mickey mouse heads, snow flakes, etc. Heating stuff in a thermos is great, but I noticed with mine that she didn't always get help in opening it. I've also made grilled cheese and wrapped it in foil and most of the time it was still warm. Mostly I made sure mine had a healthy breakfast (breakfast burritos were always a favorite) and some protein and fruit as soon as they got home. If your child eats lightly at lunch, it's okay, as long as the meals before and after make up for it a little.


My daughter is now in high school, but we have been making creative lunches since 1st grade as well. (1st grade seems to be the turning point for their taste buds!!!) The first thing I suggest is talking to your son about what he likes. I sent my daughter 's lunch for a month before the teacher finally told me she wasn't eating it - she hates sandwiches!!! She likes summer sausage sliced with slices of sharp cheddar cheese. I add fruit, crackers, and yogurt/fruit chewies and a drink and she is good. We ahve also done peanut butter crackers, there was a time she wouldn;t eat peanut butter, so we started getting pimento cheese spread & celery sticks. We find that it is cheaper to make your own "lunchable" type lunces than buying the ones at the store. We have also bought deli lunch meat, her choice, and different types of cheese and made her a deli platter to go! I always make her lunch the night before, there is never enough time in the mornings. The tortilla rollups worked well, as did the pita pockets- she came up with all kinds of stuff to put in them. (everything from traditional lunchmeat with shredded lettuce and tomatoes to taco meat left over from dinner with cheese) The best advice I can give again is to ask him what he likes and then plan his lunches with him. It seems like they eat better when they have control over what they are eating. You could sit down and show him some options and let him be a part of the decision making team. Good luck!

Try this site: www.laptoplunches.com they have a HUGE selection of lunches, and you don't have to buy their lunchbox! Just run your mouse over their lunches and it tells you what is in each one! Some of thier ideas are rather strange, but you can modify to your liking!!

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