Easy kids' lunches work for me. We make our kids' lunches nearly every morning. Even if we buy convenience foods such as juice boxes and other pre-packaged items, lunches still cost way less to make at home. I can usually pack a good lunch, even with convenience items, for under $1. Having the kids eat hot lunch at school is even easier, but it can be a lot more expensive unless your kids qualify for free lunches. Here are some of our favorites that are kid friendly and quick to make.
Please note that I don't include a lot of veggies on the side. I usually try to add a bit to the sandwich/salad/soup if there is one, and usually we include fruit with the lunch. My kids won't usually eat just a vegetable in their lunch, even if it has dip, so I leave it out. They eat veggies during their time at home. I still feel guilt for all the good food made by my wonderful mom that I threw away in elementary school and don't want to be the one buying thrown away food.
Sandwiches (This is obvious, but try to mix up the fillings. Lunchmeat, egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, nut butter with fruit slices or grated carrots, use different cheeses or salad dressing instead of mayo, etc.)
Wraps (use a tortillia instead of bread, add lunchmeat, lettuce, cheese, or any filling at all and it will be super good)
Sandwiches on rolls or bagels or pita bread instead of regular bread
Bagel with cream cheese
Fruit (fresh or canned - my kids like grapes, apples, sliced oranges, cherries, plums, fresh pears, mandarin oranges, canned peaches, pineapple, raisins, applesauce, fruit salad)
Cheese, lunchmeat, and crackers
Juice (I usually buy individual juices, but you can use a plastic re-usable cup as well and pour your own)
Soup, chili, Spaghettios, leftover dinner from the night before, etc. packed in a thermos (Heat the thermos up with hot water before putting in the food and it will stay hot longer. Canned items work great for this. Granted, they aren't always the healthiest, but at least the kids will eat them. To make you feel less guilty, the quality of the food served by the school cafeteria is really very low on average.)
Maccaroni or potato salad
Cold leftover pizza
Granola bars or cereal bars
"Trail Mix" (we have a nut free home so I often make this with anything we have on hand such as cereals, dried fruits, a few chocolate chips, small crackers, pretzels, etc.)
Pretzels or crackers
Chips and Salsa
Celery sticks with Sunbutter (or peanut butter if you aren't nut free)
Pudding cups (made ourselves or storebought)
Fruit snacks (occasional treat)
Popcorn in a baggie
Cottage Cheese plain or with fruit
If your kids have access to a microwave at school, there are a whole bunch more ideas. While my kids do have a microwave at school, sometimes there is a line to use it so I try to stick with "cold lunch" ideas so they have more time to actually be eating.
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