Next week my son starts kindergarten. What the what? How are we here already? Time is slipping by way to fast. I’m excited for him because I know he is SO ready for this, but me and his little sister will definitely be feeling his void every morning. Since he only has morning classes this year I’ll just be packing snacks. But, I know that we’ll all be wiped with grumbly tummies by the time he gets home, so lunch planning will still need to be done ahead so that we can dig in as soon as we’re home.
Recently on Facebook I asked what kind of posts you would like for September and “school lunches and snacks” was the clear winner. As a result I have been brainstorming lunch ideas to share with you and am excited to bring you a new September series.
Every Monday for the month of September, I will be posting a complete lunch box. That will be 5 posts which will include a main, sides, and snacks to round out a full lunch box. They will be all new recipes that are specifically designed for lunch box meals – with kids, school food rules, and nutrition in mind. I am really stoked. Brainstorming for these lunches has helped me get a bit more organized and feel better prepared for the many school snacks and home lunches that I will be preparing this year.
To kickstart this new series I wanted to share 5 complete lunch boxes (1 weeks worth!) from recipes that are already on the blog, along with a few tips on how to pack them and make them lunch box friendly. And as an added bonus, one of you lucky readers will win a Weelicious Lunches Cookbook! (Head to the bottom of the post for the giveaway.) But first, let’s dive into some school lunch ideas that are here at your fingertips.
Lunch Box #1
Homemade Pizza Pops (make ahead + freezer friendly + nut free)
Make a batch of these with your favourite pizza toppings inside. Freeze them after baking and pop them, frozen, into your child’s lunch box. They will need access to a microwave to heat these up at lunch time.
This is still one of our favourite salads and holds up well (before dressing and without croutons) in the fridge. We haven’t been adding croutons lately and find it just as delicious. You can mix up this salad and dress it just before adding it to the lunch box. The veggies will hold up just fine but if you want to add the croutons, pack them separately. Dressing the salad ahead make it a great salad to pack for younger kids who aren’t great at dressing their own salads yet.
Apples are coming back in season and this is one delicious way to enjoy them. Whip up a batch and throw it into school lunches for a serving of fruit that’s a bit different then the norm. If your school is nut free, you can skip the walnuts.
Energy Bites (processed sugar free + make ahead + nut-free adaptable + gluten free)
These are one of our favourite quick snacks. I make a batch to store in the fridge all week and we have a quick, protein filled snack at our fingertips. For peanut-free facilities you can sub the peanut butter for almond butter, for nut-free facilities sub with sunflower butter.
Lunch Box #2
Placing some fruit, cheese and deli meat on a skewer takes away from sandwich boredom. This is a fun activity for kids as they always love bite sized treats. Cut the skewers into smaller sizes to fit into a lunch box. Add some veggies to the mix if you like too!
Homemade Wheat Thins are so easy to make and are made with 100% whole wheat flour, making them a healthy alternative to store-bought crackers. Serving these with the skewers give the kids the ability to eat everything separately if they like, or to make their own cracker sandwiches.
Alli is a huge pickle fan and having a few on her plate with her lunch is always a special treat for her. Max doesn’t like pickles except for these ones. Whenever we have dill pickles he always reminds me that I need to make another batch of these.
No-Bake Granola Bars (gluten free + nut-free adaptable + make ahead)
Granola bars have got to be one of the favourite lunch box staples. But there’s no need to buy the packages when you’ve got this recipe up your sleeve. It’s so easy and adaptable you can please even the pickiest eater with these. If nuts are an issue feel free to sub the nuts with more dried fruit.
Lunch Box #3
Spicy Bean Burritos (make ahead + freezer friendly + nut free)
Whip up a batch of these burritos to store in the freezer for quick lunches. Place the fillings (save for the veggies) in the tortilla, wrap them up and wrap in plastic wrap to freeze. Pop them frozen in the lunchbox and your child can microwave them (if available) before eating.
Salad (gluten free+ nut free)
If you don’t have the veggies on the inside of the burritos, serve them on the side. Make a quick salad of lettuce, tomatoes, avocados (etc.) and the kids can eat it along with the burritos or give it a quick stuff inside.
Blueberry Apple Sauce (processed sugar free + nut free + gluten free + make ahead)
I’ll be making a big batch of this, this week and freezing it for easy packing later. Swap out the blueberries with any berry you wish. This week we’ll be doing blueberry and strawberry. Freeze in individual portions or larger ones for the family. Leave out the vanilla bean for a more economical apple sauce.
Homemade Graham Crackers are a feel good cookie to send with your kids. They are delicious enough for the cookie title and yet are healthy enough to send as a snack. If nuts are allowed, pack them along with some Almond Joy Butter or Maple Roasted Almond Butter (with a sprinkling of cinnamon) for a protein packed delicious treat.
Lunch Box #4
A delicious wrap made with homemade guacamole. Make it that much more healthful by serving it on a whole wheat tortilla. Wraps are a yummy way to eat your veggies.
These are a fun way to pack a boring old apple into a lunch box. You child will have fun showing off their puzzle apple to their friends. Interactive foods are always more fun to eat!
Fruit Bottom Yogurt (processed sugar free + gluten free + nut free + make ahead)
Make your own fruit bottom yogurt with homemade Greek Yogurt and your child’s favourite fruit. They are easy to make and can be made at the beginning of the week for lunch boxes all week long. If nuts aren’t an issue, top with some No-Bake Granola Clusters.
Add some healthy quick breads as a special treat to round out your lunch box. This Chai-Spiced Banana Bread is one of our faves and is made healthier with the use of whole wheat flour. If you’re looking for one with 100% whole wheat flour this Whole Wheat Molasses Zucchini Bread is another fave. Feel free to bake these in muffin tins for easy portability, just make sure to cut back on the baking time.
Lunch Box #5
Vegetable Chowder (make ahead + freezer friendly + nut free)
Soup in the fall or winter makes for a very comforting lunch. Heat this up in the morning and pack in a thermos. Make a double batch for supper and freeze the other half, or store in the fridge for later in the week. Feel free to use this with other soup recipes as well.
Make a batch and store it in the freezer to throw into lunch boxes along with soups or stews. If your kids aren’t a fan of jalapeño, try some regular drop biscuits made with homemade baking mix.
Veggie Sticks (make ahead + nut free + gluten free)
Cut up some veggies sticks at the beginning of the week for easy packing into lunches. Serve with ranch dressing for dipping. We love this Southwestern Ranch Dressing.
If nuts are allowed, then these spiced candied nuts are a great treat to sneak in some protein. If your child doesn’t like spicy foods cut back on the cayenne pepper (or eliminate it) in the recipe.
And Now the Giveaway!
**** This giveaway is now closed****
I cannot talk up Catherine McCord’s cookbooks enough. I love her food philosophy and recipes. They are always very simple, healthful and delicious. Weelicious Lunches is a gem of a cookbook for anyone who needs to pack lunches on a daily basis. It’s full of a ton of helpful recipes and tips. And I’m so excited to be able to share a copy with one of you!
Some of the handy tips shared in the book:
- how to approach packing lunches to ensure your child will want to actually eat their lunch instead of trade it for something less healthy.
- how to pack a well balanced lunch box.
- tips on reinventing leftovers.
- how to stock your pantry for success.
- combinations of which recipes to pair together to make a complete lunch box.
- best luncboxes and packing products.
- strategies for picky eaters.
- food allergy guide.
This book is full of easy, do-able recipes that will appeal to new cooks and seasoned ones alike. If you dread packing lunches this is the book to get you out of the doldrums. I know I will be referencing it often this year.
How to Enter
**** This giveaway is now closed****
Since I will be shipping this book myself, this giveaway is open world wide! To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. I’d love to know your favourite lunch box food or tip. Or perhaps, where you feel you need the most help when it comes to packing lunches.
The winner will be announced next Monday on my first instalment of lunch box recipes!
Thanks to William Morrow for supplying this giveaway! P.S. I will only share with you cookbooks that I truly love.