As parents and kids get back into the routine of school and extracurricular activities, it’s a perfect time to start thinking about meals and snacks. Proper nutrition is vital this time of year because we need to feed our kids the proper fuel to keep their bodies and minds strong. These school lunch ideas are very affordable, which is great when you’re buying notebooks, book bags, and clothes for back-to-school. Many of these can be prepared ahead of time and even with help from the kids! The lunches will stay safe even if left at room temp for a few hours. These are perfect school lunches and snacks that even offer “extra credit”!
School Lunch Ideas
Pair one of the wraps or pasta salads with one of the sides for a complete lunch.
Wraps & Pasta Salads
I love wraps and pasta because they are more durable and less likely to get soggy or smashed like sandwich bread can.
- Mexican Burrito: whole wheat tortilla stuffed with scrambled egg, veggies, cheese, and salsa. Extra Credit: This makes a great breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Plus, it can be served cold, hot, or room temp.
- The Elvis Wrap: whole wheat tortilla spread with 1 T peanut butter and topped with sliced banana. Extra Credit: This also makes a delicious breakfast and the beginning of an awesome dessert. Just drizzle with a bit of honey, fold over the wrap and put it on a grill or Panini maker and you have an amazing dessert quesadilla.
- Italian Wrap: whole wheat tortilla stuffed with chicken, pesto, chopped grape tomatoes. Extra Credit: This offers a new flavor for kids in a familiar way. Chances are kids have enjoyed the same flavors in a pizza or tomato soup. If they’re still unsure about pesto, just call it a pizza wrap.
- Asian Pasta Salad: whole grain pasta, brown rice, or quinoa, stir-fry mix, sesame seeds, drizzled with low sodium soy sauce and extra virgin olive oil. Extra Credit: If you use the leftover veggies from your stir-fry the night before, you have an almost no-cost lunch.
- Summer Pasta Salad: whole grain pasta, brown rice, or quinoa, sliced strawberries, crumbled goat cheese, chopped walnuts, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Extra Credit: This utilizes affordable and sweet strawberries while they are still in-season while the cheese and nuts add in interesting flavor and texture that kids love.
Freeze the fruit or veggies the night before to help keep the rest of the lunch cold, and the produce will be perfectly crisp by lunchtime.
- 1 cup lowfat cottage cheese with frozen strawberries
- 1 string cheese, handful of baby carrots
- 1 cup lowfat Greek yogurt, handful of frozen red grapes
- 1 slice Swiss cheese wrapped around slices of bell pepper
These are extremely important so that kids are not literally running on empty. Most school lunches are at about 11 AM and without an after-school snack, kids would go 6-8 hours until dinner. We need to refuel every 4 hours.
- 1 handful of almonds, 1 peach or 1 cup broccoli
- Apple or banana with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
- 1 cup of lowfat Greek yogurt with 1 cup blueberries
- Celery spread with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and topped with raisins (ants on a log)
- Lean meat (turkey, roast beef) wrapped around slices of red or yellow bell pepper
- Coach D’s Homemade Trail Mix (recipe below)
While these recipes are geared towards kids, they are great for adults as well. And no matter your age or ability, you can make and enjoy these recipes! So, it’s time to get back to school and back to health!
Coach D’s Homemade Trail Mix
1½ cups of whole unsalted walnuts (or almonds)
1½ cups of raisins (or cranberries or other dried fruit)
1½ cups of Cheerios (or Shredded Wheat or no-added-sugar cereal)
¾ cup of dark chocolate chips (at least 60% cocoa)
Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl. Divide equally into seven individual ¾ cup portions and put into snack baggies.
Extra Credit: This requires no refrigeration and is very resilient, which is great for an after-school snack. Since most kids don’t go straight home after school, this can be stashed in a book bag, ball bag, instrument case, or purse and eaten at any time.