I dreaded the day my son started first grade and needed to take a lunch to school. I hated my brown bag lunches! Here's what I came up with:
* Soft pretzel, string cheese and applesauce
* Whole grain roll with butter or margarine, hard boiled egg, and carrot, celery or cucumber sticks
* Kid size yogurt, whole wheat crackers, cherry or grape tomatoes (make sure the child is old enough to know to chew the food completely)
* Bagel with vegetable "confetti" - spread the bagel with plain cream cheese and cover with finely diced sweet raw veggies (red & yellow bell peppers and carrots).
* Make a sandwich on a flat tortilla, spread cream cheese, add meat, cheese and thinly sliced or shredded veggies, roll it up and slice.
* Put tuna or chicken salad in a pita or ice cream cone for a change of pace.
* Use English Muffins to make little "pizzas"
* Fruit & Vegetable Kabobs with yogurt dip
* Make homemade Lunchables with Ritz crackers. A clean empty prescription bottle works well to cut the cheese and meat to appropriate size.
* Peanut Butter Pinwheels: spread peanut butter and a little bit of honey on a flour tortilla, sprinkle with granola or Grape-nuts cereal, roll up the tortilla and slice.
Remember they need something with crunch: baked potato chips, homemade tortilla chips, pretzels, goldfish crackers, graham or saltine crackers, plain popcorn, a hand full of breakfast cereal, or trail mix (raisins, nuts, cherrios, pretzels and a small amount of chocolate chips or M&Ms) are a few ideas.
* Once cold weather sets in they like to eat soup in a thermos. I send some saltines. We've learned cheese sticks and thermoses don't mix well in lunch boxes though!
I use the inexpensive glad ware and washed out margarine / yogurt containers to send lunch items so if they get thrown away by mistake it's not too bad. They know to bring them home. I also bought real silverware at Business Costco or Smart & Final. Set of 12 spoons or forks for a dollar or two. They say food tastes better than using plastic and they remember to bring it home (and if it's thrown away or lost, it's not my good tableware!)
Our "on the go" breakfast consists of: Kids Clif Z bars (you can buy them by the box at Trader Joe's or Costco or Tiger Milk Bars, String Cheese, Cold Cereal in a baggie (milk or juice in a covered cup or juice box), pop tarts (my kids love those!), apples, bananas, yogurt.