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Back-to-School Lunchbox Inspiration

Back-to-School Lunchbox Inspiration

By Melissa Summers

Today was the first day of school and I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my kid. By the end of the year I will have made 200-some odd peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I know, it’s crazy our school still lets us send peanut butter and don’t remind me of the possibility they’ll ban peanut products eventually. Because at that point I’ll be picking up my kid at school and bringing her home for lunch. Every. Single. Day.

My hope had always been that making interesting lunches for my picky eater would encourage her to eat a wider variety of things. What appears to happen is a lot of food ends up in the garbage. Still, our options have slowly grown over the years.

Easy Lunch Ideas for Picky Kids

It feels like every article I read about getting picky eaters to try more things recommends getting your kid involved in planning her own lunch. This sounds lovely in practice and if I were a better mother I’d have both of my kids making their own lunches and I’d never yell in the morning or race them out the door with two minutes to spare. But it never seems to work that way at my house.

Instead, I made a magnetic lunch chart last year so the kids could pick and choose what things they’d like packed in their lunch — without letting the choices devolve into a bag full of pudding, cookies and a side of potato chips. My favorite lunch to send with the kids is a super simplified bento box. Just some fruit, cheese, crackers and peanut butter. Add a cookie for dessert and you’re done.

If you want to do something fancier, Flickr is a good source of bento box inspiration. I wish I loved my kids enough to make really amazing lunches, like these from Lunch in a Box. But apparently I don’t love them like that. But maybe I’ll try packing pancakes into their lunches once in a while. We’ll see.

The Kid Eats Flickr group is another excellent source for school lunch inspiration. Some of the lunches are a little too involved for me to pull off so early in the morning (or ever) but a lot of the ideas these parents come up with would be great fun to surprise your kid with. Like this hilarious apple.

Do you have any fabulous lunch ideas that work for your kids? Do your kids get bored if they’ve got the same thing in their lunchbox week after week?

More From AlphaMom

Why I Make My Kids Pack Their Own Lunches
DIY Lunchbox Napkins for Back-to-School
Fuel for Feeding Bottomless Teens
13 Tips to Make the First Week of School the Easiest Ever

Photo source: Depositphotos/belchonok








Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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  • De in D.C.

    September 2, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    I’d say 75% of the lunches I pack use dinner leftovers. A thermos with pasta, beans or casserole is easy to do, then throw in a piece of fruit and he’s good to go. Hummus and pita chips are also a big winner with my 3rd grader (iiieeeeee, my baby is in 3rd grade!!!), so I try to keep some in the house for emergency lunches. He also loves anything in a tortilla, so instead of using bread for sandwiches, I’ll do PB&H wraps and ham & cheese wraps.
    PB is still allowed in our school cafeteria (but not the classroom) and we have designated Nut-Free tables for sensitive kids. Those kids can invite their friends to sit with them at the Nut-Free tables if the friend’s lunch has been guaranteed to be Nut-Free.

  • Becky

    September 4, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Great post! I really really need some more lunch ideas. We are making a go of sending lunch from home in a Laptop Lunchbox. (I love it–here’s a pic from my blog):
    We are going for sending lunch three days a week, up from zero last year. So far, leftovers work fine. They seem more appetizing when repackaged bento style. I would love to work up to doing cute rice balls and really working on my presentation!

  • Jeanette

    September 9, 2008 at 12:27 am

    Where can we purchase those AWESOME bento boxes at? Any ideas? Not that my lunches will look as awesome as her’s but at least the containers will be cool (and environmentally friendly)!

  • Kim

    September 10, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    I purchased the Laptop Lunchbox for my 9yo daughter this year and it is the best! She has made her lunch everyday since school started. She made a grilled cheese and cut it up into bite size pieces, has taken leftover pesto pasta and today packed leftover shrimp. My favorite part is that it is easily cleanable. I could barely stand the girls’ lunchboxes at the end of the year..nasty!
    I know that Whole Foods is still carrying them here in Seattle.