It’s that time of year! New teachers, new sneakers, new school supplies, but the same old lunches in the backpacks. If you and your kids are already tired of the turkey & cheese and PB&J sandwiches, we are here to help bring some fun and fresh ideas to school lunches!

We at TOTT believe it’s never to early to get your kids to enjoy new and creative meals, even those that are easy to make and take on the go! Why not shake things up with a few classic ideas that have been re-tooled. Your kids will thank you for sending them something delicious and you’ll know they are getting a healthy and balanced meal!

Tip 1: Most of these can be prepared 2-3 days ahead and kept refrigerated, so consider making lunches twice a week on Sunday and Wednesday evenings, for example, and give yourself one less thing to do each morning!

Tip 2: Put those kids to work and have them help you pack their own lunches! It’s fun to do together and as kids get older they can handle the job themselves. Also, it’s a great way to talk about nutrition, and kids are more likely to eat what they have a hand in preparing!

Make PB&J Hip Again!

Instead of the classic PB&J on bread, try something new – “The Hipster Butter ’n’ Fruit Wraps”

  • 1 Whole Wheat Tortilla
  • 1 TBSP sunflower seed butter, almond butter or whatever you have on-hand
  • 1/4 cup sliced berries and/or diced bananas
  • Optional: Drizzle of honey or agave nectar or a touch of chocolate spread or a few chocolate chips

Wrap like a burrito – fold up the bottom 1/4 of the tortilla and then roll it lengthwise from one side all the way across. Serve with a side of carrot sticks or other sliced veggies.

Serve a Twist on Classic Cream Cheese Sandwiches! 

Many of us parents remember the delicious combination of cream cheese & jelly and cream cheese & olives, but here are a few other delicious ideas which can be served on any type of bread or bagel. They can be crustless and sliced for that “tea party” look!

  • Cream Cheese, Salami and Pickle Slices on Rye or Pumpernickel
  • Cream Cheese, Tomato Slices and Capers or Pickles on English Muffin or Bagel
  • Cream Cheese, Sliced Strawberries and Mint on Whole Wheat

Serve with fresh fruit or veggies and a side of healthy crackers or chips.

Make Your Own Pizza Pitas! 

Turns out, kids love lunches they get to assemble, and pizzas are always a favorite! The cheese and pepperoni can be placed together in a single container or baggie, separate from the pita!

  • Shredded Mozzarella or 6 Cheese Italian Blend
  • Slices of Turkey Pepperoni
  • 1 pita pocket cut into quarters
  • Optional: sliced olives, diced bell peppers or basil leaves

Serve with a side of fresh fruit or veggies.

Float Some Lunch Canoes! 

Celery stalks make the perfect handheld protein server. These can be made ahead and wrapped in plastic or kids can assemble themselves if you send a spoon!

Start with 2-3 Celery Stalks and then fill with:

  • Hummus
  • Tuna salad
  • Chicken salad
  • Pimento cheese
  • Egg salad
  • Whipped cream cheese blended with capers, diced olives or even diced salami or ham

Serve with a side of fruit and pita chips or favorite crackers.

Serve Up a Gourmet Cheese Plate! 

For the kid who likes cheese, expand his or her horizons by offering a few cheese selections in one lunch. You can cube up Cheddar, Swiss and Gouda and then offer:

  • Almonds or cashews
  • Dried cranberries or apricots
  • Whole olives or mini pickles
  • Toasted baguette rounds, pita chips or favorite cracker

Serve with sliced veggies or fresh fruit.

Be the Class Favorite with a Yogurt Parfait!

Yogurt is a fan favorite of many kids, but think beyond the yogurt tube as just a snack and go for a filling lunch instead. Don’t forget the spoon!

  1. 1 container yogurt
  2. 1 plastic cup or baggie filled with granola and dried fruit or nuts
  3. Optional: swap out dried fruit for fresh fruit

Serve with a side of veggies and crackers or healthy chips/pretzels.

Last Night’s Pasta to the Rescue! 

Got leftover noodles? Good news! It takes just a few minutes to turn them into a school-ready lunch by combining with any number of things you likely have in the house already.

  • Cubed or shredded cheese – cheddar, mozzarella or anything you have on-hand
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Torn basil
  • Sliced black olives
  • Chopped veggies like broccoli, bell peppers or even carrots
  • Peas
  • Diced salami or ham
  • Chickpeas
  • Edamame
  • Black Beans
  • Corn
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Dash of salt and pepper