easy and nutritious lunchtime ideas

Has your kid ever been referred to at school as "the boy with the fancy lunches?" Whether or not that's a cool title to hold at Queen Creek High, I'm honored.

You see, I grew up in a family of nine where the theme was fast, economical, and convenient, and school lunches were no exception. I remember every Sunday night we'd pull out 70 pieces of bread, 35 pieces of meat, 35 pieces of cheese, and a vat of mayo, which equaled five sandwiches times seven kids. When Friday rolled around, well let's just say the sloppy joes down in lunch lady land were looking awful tasty.

I don't remember exactly what else was in my Smurf lunch box, but I do remember that it was certainly nothing to skip math class for .

Now that I have my own family, I treat lunchtime as a sacred hour to unwind, be nourished, and re-group for the rest of the day.

Jilly and I both pack delicious and well balanced lunches for our kids and with a little thinking ahead, you can too. It's just another way we let our special little people know that we love them while they're away all day.

These lunch ideas are also great for your kids dad, especially if you're trying to save some cash. Our friend Melissa has a four year old, one year old twins, and a husband in Law School. Melissa, this is for you!


One of our kids favorites. They're made from nutritious wheat bread and can be mass produced and frozen for a quick and easy main course.
Make a batch of {Pantry Secrets Bread} and roll 1/4 of it out on a floured surface. Don't be scared of the ingredient Liquid Lecithin. It's an oil subsitute derived from soybeans and you can buy it {here}

Spread your favorite pizza sauce on top.

Generously sprinkle mini pepperonis and mozzarella cheese over the sauce.

Roll up just like you would cinnamon rolls and cut them in one inch pieces.

Place them on a baking sheet and let them rise for about 30 minutes.

Bake them in the oven on 350 for approx 20 minutes or until the bread is barely golden brown.

After they have cooled completely, bag them two at a time, in individual zip locks and freeze. Pull them out in the morning and put them in lunchboxes. They will be perfectly thawed by lunchtime.
You can also make ham and cheese with garlic butter sauce, or BBQ Ranch Chicken (pictured just above) with BBQ sauce mixed with ranch and cheddar cheese. Your kids will LOVE them!

One thing we CAN'T do without is this lunch {thermos}.

While it may seem like a pricey investment, it is worth every penny! We love to pack leftovers such as spaghetti, soup, Chinese food, and burritos. Just fill the thermos with hot water for 5 minutes. Empty the water and fill with anything you want to stay hot for hours. You can also do the opposite to keep food cold. We pack things like yogurt and fresh fruit with granola that stays chilled until lunch time.

How about lunch WRAPS?

There are so many different sauces, meats, and cheeses you can use to create a wide variety of wraps. Here are a few ideas to mix and match.

turkey, ham, chicken, bacon, pepperoni

cheddar, swiss, havarti, gouda, mozzerella

hummus, pesto, ranch, flavored cream cheese, herbed mayo

Get creative in mixing and matching the fillings and sauces.
I like to get a rotisserie chicken from Costco and take it off the bone. It is really flavorful, and kids love it in a wrap.

Don't discount the bean burrito.
(heat them up, cut them in half, and put in a thermos)
Peanut butter and honey wraps are also yummy.

Our kids love breakfast burrito wraps in lunches.
Eggs, potatoes, cheese, bacon, salsa, etc….

If your kids love a sandwich, get creative with the bread. Try Hawaiian sweet rolls, ciabatta rolls, hot dog and hamburger buns, or pita bread.
This pita is stuffed with marinara sauce, caramelized onion, rotisserie chicken, mozzarella cheese, and lettuce.

Try this sandwich: herbed mayo (mayonnaise, garlic, pesto, salt, and pepper), honey mustard, turkey, bacon, tomato, avocado, and sharp cheddar cheese. And don't discount the good ole BLT, they're hard to beat!


string cheese
hard boiled eggs
granola/granola bars
chips and salsa
sliced fruit (dipped in sprite so it won't brown)
veggies and ranch
applesauce cups

I love these 2oz. dixie cups. I use them for everything from ranch and salsa to teryaki sauce.

To keep lunches cold, freeze a capri sun (I love the no sugar added), Gatorade, or water bottle and put it in their lunch sack. It will keep all the food cold and will be thawed by lunch time.

Of course, every good lunch must include a treat, so each time I make a batch of cookies, brownies or mini cupcakes I freeze a dozen and pull out a couple in the morning for lunches. Around holidays we get lots of treats delivered to our door and I'll put half of them in the freezer.
I also like to send a few extra treats for next door neighbor kids or cousins at the lunch table.

As a kid, my stale sandwiches weren't much to be desired, but almost every day my dad took the time to hand write a love note on my napkin. The other day I went through some old scrapbooks and found this one my dad wrote to me on my 7th birthday. Twenty nine years later, It's a treasure.
{Here's} a great little book I've used for love note inspiration. Even though I can't sneak them in Brody's lunch box any more (he's way too cool for that), I still find excuses to hide them under his pillow and tape them on his mirror.
This book has hundreds of little ways to make your kid's day a bit brighter and what kid doesn't need that?

Today I couldn't help myself. I put a love note and a pink frosted, heart sugar cookie in Brody's lunch.

This week try giving your family the gift of lunch and see what happens!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the lunch ideas! I can't wait to make them. You guys inspire me to be a better mom, wife and homemaker. Love ya!


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Mia & Jilly

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