Lunch Ideas for Elementary School

Updated on August 17, 2013
M.J. asks from Huntley, IL
9 answers

Looking for you moms to share some of their favorite lunch and snack ideas for the kiddies school lunches. Healthy suggestions too! I feel like we circulate through the same stuff and looking for some new fresh ideas! Thanks!

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answers from New York on

My kids have always loved bean and cheese quesadillas. I take a fajita-sized tortilla, spread some refrained beans on half and sprinkle on some preshredded cheese, fold the other half over (so its now a semicircle) and zap it in the microwave for 30 sec. Cut in half & wrap in foil for lunch.

My daughter got into eating those single servings of Sabra hummus with some pretzel chips for snack every day.

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answers from Tulsa on

Just no nuts after reading S.H.'s question!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Cheese & crackers
Pita sandwiches
carrots & Ranch
Soup in a thermos
grilled chicken strips (not breaded) warmed & wrapped in double foil
cut up fruit
chicken nuggets warmed & wrapped in double foil
sliced steak, corn
grilled cheese sandwich (double foil to keep warm)
pizza slices (warmed, double wrapped in foil)
hummus & pita chips
veggie pita sandwich (herb cream cheese spread, shredded carrots,
corn, cucumber slices, sprouts but only if they like them)
Pop Tart (ok so they're not healthy but they don't have to be warmed &
most kids love them)
bars of any kind

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answers from Boston on

Lots of choices, a little of everything seems to work. If you can, get your kids involved in preparing/helping, even if it's on the weekend. I just listened to a program about childhood obesity rates going down as more people cook and get involved in what they're eating, rather than grabbing the 100 calorie processed food snacks and the Capri Sun/juice box things.

Kids like to dip - so hummus or a healthy ranch dressing and different raw or lightly-cooked-and-quick-cooled veggies: carrots, celery, cucumber spears or disks, zucchini spears, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, jicama sticks, even slices of fennel bulb, radishes, pepper strips. Fruit cubes - for fun, thread them on a long toothpick (I like the cocktail type with the little arrow head on the end because the fruit does't slide off, and they can even be brought home and rinsed and used over again): cubes of cantaloupe and honeydew, watermelon, kiwi, apple or pear (spritz with a little lime or lemon juice to prevent browning), grapes, pineapple, berries. Mix them up like little shish kabobs with alternating colors. Kids can have fun making their own the afternoon before. Just put the fruit chunks out in piles on the cutting board or maybe in little bowls, and let them create their own "kabobs".

Get one of those divided lunch containers with little compartments, and load them up with a little of everything.

In addition to sandwiches, you can try French toast sticks with a little powdered sugar - I make it with soy protein powder and a lot of cinnamon with the egg, and the dark cinnamon helps disguise the fact that I use whole wheat bread. Skip the syrup because it's messy - unless you use real syrup which only requires a dab (the other is almost all high fructose corn syrup).

Hard boiled egg disks (cut with an egg slicer but "reassemble" it and it fits perfectly in one of the compartments.

Sticks or squares of low fat cheddar cheese. Laughing Cow spreadable cheese (much better than any Cheez Whiz type of product) on regular Triscuits (just whole wheat and a little salt and canola oil, vs. Wheat Things which have high fructose corn syrup). Or put a little turkey or peanut butter or almond butter on the crackers - just as good as a sandwich, but kids think it's snack-y. Same goes for rice cakes.

Wraps - a slice of thin turkey, thin sliced cheese, a leaf of romaine lettuce or a few spinach leaf if you can swing it, spread with a little hummus - roll, secure with toothpicks and cut in sections. Or make a Mexican wrap with a corn tortilla, spread with vegetarian refried beans, and add whatever they'll eat: chicken, other beans, cheddar or Mexican style cheese, some green peppers. Roll like a wrap, or fold 1/3 over, roll once, fold in the 2 sides, and then the final flap, and secure with toothpick. If they make their own, you'll have an easier sell.

A small container of almonds - great protein and crunchy. Use whole roasted ones, slivered, whatever they will eat. They don't have to be salted.

To drink: WATER!! Ideally in a reusable stainless steel bottle. Schools are going crazy hauling plastic water bottles in the trash. And it's just not necessary when tap water (better regulated than bottled water) is free.

I think it's great that you are looking for healthy solutions! A friend who is a kindergarten teacher just goes crazy when she has to deal with kids who have lunches full of white starch and sugar - the kids are off the wall after lunch and then crashing a half hour later. The kids from many other countries have much better snacks (e.g. kids from Indian families and many from Latin America have much more fruit/veggies and virtually no pre-packaged stuff).

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answers from New York on

M. J - trying hard not to repeat but consider the following-

steak and cheese and grilled onions on a sub
meatball hero
chick parm
meat samosas
pepperoni and cheese
tuna fish salad
chicken salad with cranberries and almonds
chicken salad with grapes, sunflower seeds and celery
butternut squash ravioli
angel hair pasta with goat cheese and broccoli
mac & cheese
split pea soup with ham
caprese salad
thai chicken skewers
fried dumplings

rice pudding
chocolate pudding
clementine oranges
yogurt & fruit

tortilla chips
pita chips

one of my favorite lunches as a child was baked potato mash. my M. would put a baked potato, brocolli, cheese, bacon, grilled onion, and minced chicken in a thermos with a bit of sour cream. texture was something between chunky mashed and actual baked potato.

If your kid is fond of salad, by all means send them with hearty salads, just keep the dressing on the side.

half made/ assemble yourself food can be fun too.
i remember a kid who would make hummos at lunch. a tupperware of chickpeas, some sesame seed paste, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. He would pound at it with a pestle and everyone wanted a turn at the pounding.

guac, salsa, black bean salad could prove similar fun.

Good luck to you and yours,
F. B.

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answers from Chicago on

My son's exact request, he is 6 btw is as follows:

Fizzy water (carbonated water - not happening that's for home)
Ham, Salami & Colby Jack Cheese with 10 pickles (5 on each side)
Grapes, Ritz Crackers and Greek Yogurt.

Aside from some swaps due to availability (fruit mostly) that is what I plan on sending him to school with until he says otherwise. He may have something aside from plain water here and there, but he LIKES water, fizzy is just more fun! Many kids like the same stuff, consistency is something a number of kids feed off of, even when it comes to food.


answers from San Francisco on

Just pack whatever your kids will eat. Anything from sandwiches to rice/pasta to leftover pizza, you can pretty much pack ANYthing.
Also, some kids LIKE bringing the same things over and over.
Sometimes those "creative" lunches just end up in the trash, so if you want your kids to eat, ask THEM what they'd like.



answers from Chicago on

wow, all sorts of wonderful ideas but I would sure like Fanged Bunny's recipe for Butternut squash ravioli-yum!

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