School Lunch Ideas - Not Sandwiches

Updated on January 04, 2014
D.D. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
20 answers

Hi, I need lunch ideas. What do you send for your child?
My child is a little picky in that he doesn't like sandwiches, yogurt, or soup - the easy choices.

What do you send? I do have a small insulated thermos that I sometimes use for ravioli. So ideas of warm foods is also fine.

Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the great ideas!

And also for the remind that I don't need a lot of variety. If I can come up with 3-4 healthy lunch meals that I can rotate, that's enough.

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J.D.

answers from New York on

I have the same issue with my five year old daughter! She likes soup but sometimes I just do cheese and crackers and maybe carrots and dip....you can make it more like a snack and it can still be filling and healthy! Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful
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A.J.

answers from Indianapolis on

I found this cute article http://www.flickr.com/photos/mslil65/sets/72157601755804789/ . She took pics very cute. I found similar containers at Target, TJ Max, Marshall's. The even have ones with ice packs that you could put in the fridge. I bought the variety pack for 15. Most will fit in a regular lunchbox. Most kids don't like their food to touch. I also like that she had a ton of ideas for lunches.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

D.B.

answers from Boston on

How about some hummus for dipping raw veggies? Kids love to dip foods, and they like to pick and choose among the items that are packed. A mix of carrots, pea pods, broccoli and cauliflower florets (you can blanch them a little if they are too crunchy), pepper strips, and more. I child in our family just loves to take a divided plastic container with some dip in one of the sections. You can re-use the container which even cuts down on waste (no trashed ziploc bags) and that's a good way for the uneaten food to come home so you can see what's left.

Quinoa has a lot of protein and you can add all kinds of things to it - beans, chickpeas, nuts, anything he'll eat. It can be hot or cold. A friend's kids just love chili (meat or vegetarian) with all kinds of beans. It's also a good place to hide veggies they don't think they like (she chops up zucchini really fine and they devour it).

How about wraps? Some kids eat that who won't eat regular sandwiches.

You can get whole wheat ravioli with all kinds of healthy fillings and just substitute it for the Chef Boyardi stuff that has a lot of fat and sodium.

4 moms found this helpful
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F.B.

answers from New York on

mine is picky too- lunch has included

corn and hot dogs
rice pilaf and chicken
whole wheat bulgur cooked with ground beef, tomato and onion
chili
steak and hash browns
waffles and eggs
cashews cheese and crackers
cubed ham and grapes
left over pizza
nachos
cheese sticks with red pepper strips

lunch can be anything you'd like.

best,
F. B.

3 moms found this helpful
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A.O.

answers from Sacramento on

My oldest daughter likes quesadillas - I melt it in the morning and she likes to eat it cold. I also like to do homemade chicken nuggets, leftover noodles, rolled lunchmeats with cheese slices. Both my daughters LOVE crunchy seaweed and homemade kale chips too. Go figure.

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S.H.

answers from Honolulu on

So what will your child eat?
Make that.

I work at an elementary school.
Lunch time at school, is just one part of the day.
While at school, kids exert a lot of energy and thinking energy.
Just make, what your child will eat.
Because, I see, MANY kids at school... who will NOT eat, even if they are HUNGRY. Why? Because, they TELL me: "My Mom makes things she knows I don't like..." and then they sit there, not eating, and all day, they do not have a meal in their tummy. And it shows. The kids get fussy/tired/can't concentrate and get, unruly. Because, they did not eat. But yet, they are at school, ALL day. They need sustenance.
So make what your child will eat. As long as it is not just junk food or candy or chips. (which I say because, I see many kids' home lunches, which are just, that).

Ask your child, what he/she wants for lunch.
It does NOT matter, if it is the same thing everyday.
If the kid will eat it, fine.
Home lunch does not have to be restaurant caliber buffet variety, every day. Make a lunch that your child will eat.

These are some of the things I see kids bring to school:
cheese cubes
pita sandwiches
left over dinner
rice dishes
salads
cut up veggies and dip
pasta
spaghetti
boiled eggs
cut up fruit
Chicken
roast beef
sushi
Noodles
scrambled eggs
deli meats
pizza
Hawaiian food
stuffed baked potatoes

Basically, ANYTHING can be a "home lunch."
And basically, you want to make a meal that your child will, eat.
Because as I said, if a child does not eat lunch... they go ALL day at school, with an empty stomach... and then, that is where some of the students behavioral problems, starts. Because, they are running on empty.
And it is NOT true, that a child will eat if/when they are hungry.
Because, I see, kids all day, who do NOT eat at school, even... if... they... are... hungry and starving.

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

Most of the time we do sandwiches because they are easy, have you tried different flavors like peanut butter and honey (that is my oldest sons favorite). But, everyone likes a little variety so sometimes rather then a sandwich my older son enjoys crackers, cream cheese and smoked salmon in his lunch box, and my youngest's favorite is cottage cheese and peaches or pineapple, he actually prefers that over a sandwich. Other ideas are peanut butter as a dip for apples, that way you get all the goodness of the peanut butter just without the bread.

2 moms found this helpful
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M.P.

answers from Green Bay on

I have the same issue sometimes. My son is allergic to peanuts so the easy PB/J is out the window! He isn't in school yet, but I have to provide his food for day care - the easy thing there is they still heat it up. So I send a lot of our leftovers. If we had meatloaf the night before, thats what he gets for lunch.

How old is your child? Have you tried asking him for ideas?

Some days when we are low on food, my son gets random things - ham and cream cheese tortilla roll ups, bagels with cream cheese, cheese and crackers, etc. He is a big fruit/veggie eater so that makes it easier if the "main course" is harder to come by.

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

Since I work with children and supervise a student every day in lunch I take a serious look at the food they eat and I have seen some pretty amazing things. From noodles in a thermos to a salmon 'bisque' with lettuce (I am dead serious that is what the boy called it and I was drooling, as well as the typical kid meals PBJ not withstanding your choices are endless. And of course the leftovers are easiest because they are ready to be packed the night before.
Enjoy.

2 moms found this helpful

C.M.

answers from Washington DC on

My daughter likes mac n cheese and my son likes chicken (either what I make the night before for dinner or a chicken patty cut up) and rice.

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M.H.

answers from Chicago on

If you can- Peanutbutter and Jelley in cup, with some crackers (some schools allow peantu butter some do not.

My son is GF and does not like the GF bread. So we send him with GF chicken strips.

Ravioli is great
Hummas & Chips
Hard Boiled eggs
We do Lunch meat by itself, with no bread. My kids love Ham, Turkey etc..

Chilli
Mac N Cheese
Make your Own tacos
Cheese sticks & Fruit

What did you have for dinner? It can go in the lunch.

Think of meals as a steping stone to what you want them to eat each day.
EX I want my son to have 5 ounces of protein a day, 5-6 Grains a day, 2 cups of water, 2 serviings of dairy, 3 servings of veggies, 3 servings of fruit.. I mark off what i gave him for breakfast, what he gets for snacks and fill it in with dinner and after diner snack.

Also, it is okay to put the same thing in day after day they like that. I grew up with PB and J and had that almost every day.

So what does she like, fit it into the strategy for the day and go from there. It can be anything she will eat.

2 moms found this helpful

L.A.

answers from Austin on

Left overs, whatever he ate at dinner Some of whatever was left over .
Sushi
Grilled chicken in tortillas
Cheese cubes and cut up raw vegetables.
Guacamole
Peanut butter with pretzels
cut up Fruit
Cereal with milk purchased in the lunch line

Lunch meat rolled up
Spaghetti and meatballs

Our daughter loves salads, so I would send salad with grilled cut up chicken..

cheese Tortellini with sauce on the side

2 moms found this helpful

A.C.

answers from Huntington on

cold noodles or pasta salad (so many variations!)
beans and rice
waffle or pancake, could send a small container of cold syrup, jam or peanut butter to spread on top
crackers, saltines, pretzels or chips
muffin
ham or chicken cubes, or lunch meat roll ups, or lunch meat and crackers
tuna and crackers
String cheese
hard boiled egg
salad with tuna on top
Applesauce
apples, oranges, bananas, cut up melon, grapes
Cut up veggies
sugar snap peas
jello or pudding, a cookie, fruit rolls up, fruit snacks

2 moms found this helpful

M.M.

answers from Chicago on

Hmmm staples for my son:

Spaghettios or pasta/sauce in the thermos
rice in the thermos
applesauce
teddy grahams
tortilla chips
granola bars
fruit cups
string cheese
pretzels
carrots/ranch
fruit

There are a lot of days that there is no "main entree" for my son. He doesn't like a lot either. So I just load him up with "sides".
We go through a LOT LOT LOT of granola bars in our house!

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L.M.

answers from Boise on

The lady I used to babysit for (I refer to her often on MP) used to take a cucumber and slice it lenghthwise, and pit out the seeds. She then put in a mixture of creamcheese with shredded crab and other things like pimentos for color, other tiny diced veggies, etc... You can experiment that way... Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Leftovers are great, just send whatever he likes, chicken, pasta, fried or streamed rice, meatballs, pizza, burritos, quesadillas, wraps, cheese/crackers, sushi, pasta or potato salad, hard boiled eggs, almost anything really!

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J.A.

answers from New York on

Honestly - anything we make for dinner is fair game for lunches with my munchkin. Does she like croissants? My little one goes through phases where she's over bread - but croissants fill that gap quickly. Just ask they what they like and make healthy versions ( like home made pizza rolls ) , or I do a garlic lemon pasta , pancakes, fruits, cheeses, etc..

1 mom found this helpful
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P.K.

answers from New York on

Anything can be packed for lunch. Just don't put it on bread. Soups, pasta, veggies, yogurt, peanut butter n crackers, cheese, turkey, roast beef. I can go on and on. Ask your child he would like. There are thermoset to keep things wArm and ice packs to keep things cold.

Updated

Anything can be packed for lunch. Just don't put it on bread. Soups, pasta, veggies, yogurt, peanut butter n crackers, cheese, turkey, roast beef. I can go on and on. Ask your child he would like. There are thermoset to keep things wArm and ice packs to keep things cold.

1 mom found this helpful
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❤.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

I have a few pickey eaters, too.
Some ideas:
-carved turkey (from deli counter)
-leftovers in insulated thermos: shepherd's pie, tortellini
-burrito, heated in a.m. & double wrapped in foil
-tacos to assemble at school (grd beef, warmed corn or flour tortillas wrapped in foil, add sm tupperware of shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, diced onions. This is all leftover
-leftover lasagna warmed & put in insulated container
-string cheese & salami slices
-heated chicken nuggets wrapped in foil then put in container
-hamburger patty warmed, wrapped in foil then put bun in separate conatiner or ziplock bag
-diced chicken on lettuce leaves to eat as a taco
-diced chicken on cut up pieces of the lettuce he WILL eat
-fruit cocktail or fruit salad

-sliced turkey deli meat, sliced cheese & crackers to assemble @ school

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

How old is your child? My 13 yo granddaughter suggests taking a child shopping and see what the like. This works for her.

1 mom found this helpful
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