Going back to school is amazing! Getting back that routine, is so important for my sanity, not to mention, my kids were eating me out of house and home every day! Seriously, who puts a box of crackers back in the cupboard with only crumbs left? Oh, yeah, that’d be my kids! So yes, I’m excited they are heading off to start a new year! It’s especially an exciting time when moms won’t be asked for snacks for at least 6 hours out of the day!
This year we wanted to get some rotating ideas for my son’s lunch box. He religiously packs the same thing every day, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (boring). It is really hard to add a variety into his routine. He’s a peckish eater, grazing all day, and doesn’t really eat a whole lot in one sitting. We sat down and compiled a list of things we could easily make, so I could stop making peanut butter and jelly every, single, day. (side note: something about peanut butter and jelly really irritates me, it could be the remnants of peanut butter my family leaves on spoons and throws in the sink…not sure, but that may be it!).
Nail those Lunches!
Here are some really cool ideas we gathered after scouring Pinterest, and seeing some awesome lunch ideas other moms were making. My son’s lunch normally consist of a main food, two easy sides, and a drink. No mom shaming here! We tried uber healthy lunches and grapes came back pulverized, or carrots were never touched. So, I choose not to battle what he eats at school, we always have time for that at dinner! Here were the ideas that really went over well:
- Pepperoni pizza Empanadas: (use frozen Empanada wraps (freezer section), add a little pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella, pepperoni slices, fold in half, press & seal edges with fork, and swipe the top with an egg wash.) Bake @ 425 degrees for 10-15 mins. These are excellent after school snacks and can be frozen, then popped into the toaster oven for quick bites.
- DIY Lunchables: Build lunchable ideas, such as turkey & cheddar with multi-grain crackers, ham & Munster with veggie crackers, or even gluten free chicken nuggets with carrot sticks and ranch.
- Ham & Cheese Puff Pastry: This is similar to the Empanada idea, but use puff pastry in the frozen section instead. The dough comes out way flakier, and this super delish treat is also freezer friendly for after school snacks.
- Pizza bagels: These little guys go fast! Make a tray and freeze the rest. Use the mini-bagels, toast for 5-minutes, then add a little pizza sauce, top with Mozzarella, and bake for 5-8 minutes until cheese is melted. Topping choices are endless.
Pick a Side any Side!
Here’s where I choose to let my son make his own choices. As I grew up, my grandmother always repeated, “everything in moderation…” and I’m a huge advocate of this. We shop for lunches the weekend before. I ask my 12-year old son to pack his lunch each night before school, so it is ready to go in the morning. First, he’s learning responsibility, and second, it really helps me out so I’m not frantically running around getting everything ready, prepping dinner for the night, AND packing his lunch. He’s got his little routine down and it works. We get enough sides to let him pick-two so he’s got a bit of variety for the week. Here’s what that looks like:
- Yogurt & granola
- Veggie straws and frozen grapes
- Apple sauce and pretzels
- Fruit chunks & Go-Gurt (can freeze Go-Gurts also)
- Celery & peanut butter on the go cups
- Banana chips, raisins, and granola (trail mix)- so many choices for making trail mix.
- Popcorn & raisins or dried fruit
- Oranges & Babybel (those little red circle cheeses covered in removable wax)
With all of these choices, he doesn’t have the opportunity to get bored. He’s in middle school now, so he gets to pick what he wants, and he’s super happy with that. Those combo’s are mixed up monthly, and when we run through the cycle, it’s like a new lunch every week. Now, if I could only meal plan like that for myself, I’d be golden!
Don’t Forget the Drinks!
Much to our surprise cafeteria’s still serve chocolate, regular, and strawberry milk, but my oldest prefers water. At the house we have “pretend soda” which is ‘Bubbly‘ or seltzer water (whatever is on sale) and those natural water enhancer packets. This combo has the carbonation of soda but without the calories. For lunch, he throws one of the water enhancer packets in his bag with his water bottle for a little flavor boost. I know I’m not a stickler for super healthy food, but something about the hormones in milk scares my mind to no degree, so I normally don’t push drinking milk at home or at school. We use multi-vitamins for nutrients, but I can totally hear my mother screaming in my head as I write this…”those boys we need calcium“…love you mom!
Let the Kids be Kids
Whatever you’re sending your kid to school with, you’re amazing! Way to pack a lunch everyday, shop, plan, and have it all together! Even if your kids buy school lunches, amazing, they are getting food in their belly! Above are great ideas for picnic finger foods, weekend lunches, or just Friday night veg out and watch movie snacks. However you do your kids lunch, your incredible! Keep it up mom, your kids love you just the way you are!
**Just a side note! Not all kids have the ability to eat a lunch every day, so if you would like to donate to “No Kid Hungry” here’s their link, we hope you stop by to check out their website and donate: https://www.nokidhungry.org