Lunches for 3Rd Grader to Take to School

Updated on August 21, 2009
L.L. asks from Petaluma, CA
12 answers


My 3rd grader is tired of having sandwiches everyday for school and who can blame him? I feel the same way about making them everyday. We have tried mac & cheese in a thermos but it doesn't stay warm enough so it gets clumpy. Chicken nuggets get cold and hard. Looking for some new ideas and maybe new recipes for this hungary 3rd grader.

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answers from San Francisco on

Greetings L.: I have a daughter with the same name so this is kinda fun to answer as it makes me think of her and her 3 cuties.
When my children were young ( and in teens) I liked makeing creative lunches. So try shish kabobs. I put meat,vegetables,and fruit on a stick, made banna ans peanutbutter sandwhiches that were cut into shapes, quiche,vegetables with yougart dips, meatballs in sauce with tooth picks, Beef jerky or beef sticks and the all time favorite was in small containers put all the stuff for taco's that they got to make. Potatoesalad is a complete meal but make sure you have it in good containers because it goes bad quickly.
If you need anything more please let me know I have alot of other things I did. Also thanks for making me think that I should see if my girl needs some of these ideas for her little ones as well. Have a great day, Nana G

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

When you tried the mac and cheese did you put boiling water in the thermos to warm it up while you were making the mac and cheese? That is what my mom always did with soup when I was a kid and my soup always stayed warm.
Can't really think of other lunch suggestions, sorry.



answers from Bakersfield on

Hi L.- I copied an e-mail I sent to another lady this morning. If you are up for some pre-prep and your child likes cold lunches, these are great and quick fixes. I hope it helps! Have a great weekend

Just a thought. Does your son like veggies or string cheese? We do snack bags: 1 of mixed veggies- broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, grape tomatoes, snap peas, etc. Whatever he likes, make a baggie. Then make snack bags of mixed nuts- we like almonds, pepitas, pecans, peanuts, pine nuts, etc with dried cranberries or dried green grapes. There is a serving size on the back of alot of bags- minimize and mix and throw a bunch of bags together. Then, a string cheese, a yo baby yogurt, an apple, a baggie of grapes... Children are little, and a few snack bags and a thermos or something of water or a milk ticket should do them just fine. Also, tell him to bring home the leftovers. You can get freezer packs in the dollar section of target to keep everything cool, and the nuts and veggies and usually the fruit will keep if he brings it home. The biggest thing is to mix it up. If he wants meat or something, but not sandwiches, pre-cook some chicken, or get some hot dogs, or a slice of turkey and add that. He is getting fruit, veggies, and protein in any mixture of the above and eating super healthy. You can also send a small container of dressing or peanut butter along if he likes to dip his veggies or apples.

The last thing is that if you do snack baggies once a week, then you can also just grab and go and not stress over lunches. Put 3 or 4 bins in your fridge and each one can have a certain "snack" in it. These are also perfect snacks for after school for kids and adults alike!
As far as sandwiches, try making the samdwich rounds with pb & j once in a while, and doing the meat other days.
Hope this helps!
-E. M
P.S. Make sure he eats a tummy filling breakfast like low sugar oatmeal or muesli with milk and peanut butter stirred in. He should have more energy and be hungry at lunch, but not totally starving.



answers from San Francisco on

The bakery at our Safeway makes cheese bagels with the cheese baked into the bagels. My kids really enjoy these for lunch, and they can just be eaten as is. On the side, my kids like an apple, applesauce, or carrot sticks, and sometimes a little bag of nuts. Other ideas include dried fruit, granola or fruit bars, flavored rice cakes.



answers from Redding on

Dear L.,
I belong to
They send me all kinds of awesome, simple recipes along with printable coupons. Today there was a recipe for pizza pretzels and pb&j waffle sandwiches.
You should check it out.
I always use leftovers for my kids lunches. One favorite was herb and butter rice or Rice-a-Roni rolled in an herb flavored tortilla. They are tastey hot or cold. Other favorites are tomatoes, steamed green beans or zucchini with a bit of Italian salad dressing and sprinkled parmesan. Tastes great even cold. Also, cottage cheese and peaches, tomatoes, apricots or pears. Bagels are always a great change from regular bread. When school starts, you'll get a lunch menu and both of my kids thought it was a treat to get a hot lunch if they were having certain things they really liked.
I guess my kids are weird because they beg for eggplant and love onions and garlic, etc, but do check out the Pillsbury site because even though I don't always follow their recipes, they have some awesome ideas. Your kid might like looking at the recipes with you and see which ones he'd like to try. Helping to make things might make it more fun to have it in his lunch the next day too.

Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on


Alot of kids like the lunchable packs-- I suggest making your own- its healthier and more cost efficient.

Take some turkey/salami/ham cut into squares

cut cheese into slices, add some crackers and one treat and your done. (bite size treats-like M&Ms etc)

If your child likes veggies, cut up some veggies and put a little dip in a container or frozen grapes are also good.

Another one is tortilla rollups-- put cream cheese on tortilla- add sliced meat, veggies and roll up- cut in 2-3 pieces and you have your lunch!

Good luck!




answers from San Francisco on

Boiled eggs
cut fruit
sliced vegetables or finger veggies (maybe with dip)
celery and peanut butter
dried fruit
fruit bars/cereal bars
cheese cubes
boneless skinless chicken breast cut in chunks
cornbread muffins
hot dogs
potato salad

Think about a picnic...what would you pack for a picnic? Most of it should work for a school lunch too!

If he complains too much he can always buy lunch---but many kids don't like the way waiting in the line cuts down on their recess time. = )



answers from Sacramento on

we use a thermos that i found in target, its silver on the outside with a colored lid and bottom, I have an electric tea kettle so I can warm water quickly and then pour it in to warm the thermos. Then I empty and wipe then add the lunch, my son says his lunch is still warm after 5 hours ( mac n cheese, pasta, nuggets, chilli etc)
good luck



answers from Fresno on

Maybe wraps or pitas? You could also do a cold pasta, pizza or even tortillas where you can make your own tacos.


answers from San Francisco on

Cheese and crackers, cut up fruit and/or veges with dip (yogurt dip for the fruit, ranch or hummus dip for the veges,) celery or apple slices with peanut butter, pretzels, energy bars, sushi, wraps made with tortillas, cream cheese and lunch meat, bagels with cream cheese, peanut butter or jam, hard boiled eggs, pasta salad (a simple cold one with vinegarette, crumbled cheese and tomatoes holds up well.) Also making sandwiches on things other than traditional bread keeps things interesting, try pita pockets or dinner rolls. Just keep trying new things, kids' tastes change all the time. Have fun!



answers from Bakersfield on

My 3rd grader LOVES Vienna sausages. They make a lower fat (turkey/chicken?) version if you're concerned about fat. It's a great change. They can be high in sodium/fat I think but as long as you're not doing it every day, I think once a week is fine. Especially if you consider the amount of calories she burns during a school day.

She likes Vienna sausages with slices of cheese and some kind of fruit and maybe even carrots sometimes. (Plus as a mom it's SUPER EASY - I just open up the container, drain the juice and put it in a sandwich box)

Also, dinner leftovers are AWESOME!! We had cheese tortellini and broccoli one night and I just heated up what was left the next morning and plopped it into her Thermos. The only problem was I didn't give her enough!

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