Need some lunch ideas for kids going back to school? Here’s what my girls are taking this year, plus a printable list to make it easy for them to pack their own balanced lunches!
Ella has packed a school lunch since kindergarten.
I usually add $20 each semester to her lunch card so that she can buy a school lunch occasionally but for the most part, she packs a lunch every day.
This year, with Ani going into full-time school, she’s joining the ranks of lunch packer and she was overjoyed to finally be old enough for a lunchbox and to eat lunch in the cafeteria.
Ella’s old lunch box had a bunch of little pieces which made it a pain to wash and Ani’s was a sad little free one I got last year.
So we ordered these new lunchboxes for both of the girls, and you’d have thought it was Christmas morning. I love that the inside is one piece that can straight in the dishwasher and that it had five different compartments.
I LOVE them and we’ve been super happy with them so far. I’m considering buying two more so that the little girls can pack lunches at the same time in the evenings and make lunch time at home easier.
Printable lunch ideas for kids
A week before school started, Ella said “I feel like I never have anything to pack in my lunch box.”
This was a two-fold problem.
First, I didn’t have a good system for figuring out what to buy that they could pack in their lunchboxes.
And second, Ella wasn’t clear on what a good lunch consisted of.
On a Sunday afternoon, I sat down with both girls and came up with six categories – fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, sweets, and dips – and then we brainstormed a bunch of options for each category that were easy to pack and that they would actually eat.
I printed off a list of all those things divided into categories and hung it on the inside door of the pantry so they could see it every day when they packed their lunches and easily pick one item from each category.
And then when I do my grocery list, I can quickly scan the list, pick a few items from each category to add to my shopping list and I’m good to go!
If you’d like a printable copy of this list, you can pop in your email below and it’ll come right to your inbox:
I’d love to hear what your best lunch ideas for kids are! Do your children pack a lunch or buy lunch at school?
P.S. My girls love getting notes in their lunchboxes and I’m TERRIBLE at doing them from scratch, so I’ve been using this printable pack of 180 pre-designed lunch box notes from Sarah Jane Studios (she’s the illustrator of Lola Dutch!). I printed them all out, dropped them in my snack drawer, and just grab two every morning to put in each of the girls’ lunchboxes. Best mom hack right there. And you can use the code everyday20 for 20% off!
If you liked this post about lunch ideas for kids, you might also like these posts:
- 5 ways to streamline your school morning routine
- 35 favorite read-alouds for elementary schoolers
- 7 screen-free ways to keep your children entertained
Photos by Heather Mildenstein
Thank you! My son started kindergarten this year and I was sooo excited to not have to pack a lunch for him for daycare everyday because I planned for him to buy lunch at school. That lasted for all of two days, and now I’m back to packing his lunch. I never know what to pack, I don’t know why this is so hard! 😉
My son started kindergarten this year, though we’ve packed lunches for daycare for 2 years now. I’d love to have him pack his own lunch, but I’m trying to avoid single use packaging as much as possible and I’m struggling to think of ideas of things he can put together on his own. Your list has some new ideas I think I’ll be able to adopt!
Thank you! Lunch packing is almost the bane of the school year for me (although I am too cheap to spend $3.50/day on lunch for a 6 year old). I’m always looking for ideas! Thanks!
I bought these same boxes this summer but the adult versions bc my kids appetites are getting bigger as they grow! We have loved them so far and I like that we are not using so many plastic bags anymore. We sometimes do a “lunchable” themed lunch so use Ritz crackers, cut up lunch meat and cheese and they all go in along with a fruit or veggie and small treat. I love having my kids pack their own lunches!! For our family, it’s working great!