Back to School Lunch Ideas

August 30, 2018

sushi lunch

Do you struggle for lunch ideas? I do. It’s embarrassing to admit that last year my kids ate the same thing for lunch every day with only very minor variations. I felt bad about the monotony, but I was hard pressed for ideas! They are notoriously picky eaters. Maybe I didn’t introduce enough variety into their diets early on or maybe it’s genetic (or maybe they’re just negative), but they are so painfully unadventurous. My oldest doesn’t like chocolate or cheese. Neither of them like ranch dressing. They don’t even like pretzels. It’s weird.

This year, I thought it might be helpful to all the lunch packers out there if I racked my brain and came up with a master list of ideas; something comprehensive, so we could start the year off with confidence and make grocery trips pointed and quick. I had so much fun compiling the list that I came up with ten days worth of themed lunches.

I’ve included proteins, fruits, veggies, starches, legumes, and dairy. You might balk at some, but reserve judgement. My cousin’s daughter chomps on raw chard leaves. (She’s being raised vegan.) My oldest daughter’s BFF likes tofu.  Anything is possible. Some of the foods take a little prep, but it’s worth it if you make a bunch and use it the whole week.

Do you use Planet Box lunch boxes? I love Planet Box. They respect the environment and our bodies by cutting down on plastic and waste. The compartment sizes make so much sense. They have little containers and silicone dividers that make separation, including sauces, and packing messier foods a breeze. Cold packs make perishable items a possibility. They cost a bit more than the average lunch box, but their durability makes them economical. I’ve been using ours for over six years and I’m nowhere near needing a replacement.

Bon chance, lunch makers!

Do you have any lunch ideas? I’d love to hear them.


carrots, celery, cucumber, bell pepper, cornichons, pickles, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, green beans (blanched with salt), zucchini, yellow squash, lettuce, dried seaweed snacks, kale chips, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, beets


green peas, snow peas, black-eyed peas, lima beans, black beans, edamame, chickpeas, crunchy chickpeas


olives, avocado, kiwi, banana, apples (how to prevent browning), grapes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, dried fruits, mango, cherry tomatoes, oranges, plumbs, apricots, dates, raisins, dried cranberries, fruit strips


bagels, rice, rice cakes, corn, popcorn, crackers, tortilla, tortilla chips, pita, pita chips, granola, pasta, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, quinoa, couscous, pretzels


hard-boiled egg, frittata, diced chicken breast, salami, sausage, diced turkey breast, corned beef, roast beef, ham, tofu, breaded chicken breast (a.k.a. chicken tenders), tuna fish salad, chicken salad, sushi rolls


yogurt, cheddar cheese, feta cheese, Swiss cheese, string cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese, Brie, Gouda

Dipping Sauces

soy sauce, ranch dressing, green goddess dressing, honey, hummus, baba ghanoush, balsamic vinaigrette, thousand island dressing

3 responses to “Back to School Lunch Ideas”

  1. Francie says:

    Wow!!! Love these ideas Annie:) Thanks so much for the lunch box inspiration. I really needed it.

  2. Orit says:

    These are incredible! I really needed some inspiration as well! Thanks so much Annie….love these!

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