29 Back To School Lunch Ideas + Printable Menu

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29 Back to school lunch ideas plus free printable menu. Take the guess work out of school lunches with these quick and easy meal ideas.

I’m not ready. I know other parents are incredibly excited for school to start. The jokes on social media sites go around with parents celebrating with high fives as their kids climb the stairs to the school bus, but this year I’m just not ready.

It’s probably because we have a lot of big changes coming and less about them taking over our home and needing some sense of routine again. But either way it’s here. School’s just around the corner and ready or not, it’s time to get organized.

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Packing a school lunch isn’t exactly a complicated task. It’s just one that takes time and planning. Planning at the grocery store and finding time when you’ll be able to make them each day.

It’s a tedious task that goes without a thank you and comes back with only half the lunch being eaten.

The excuses are:

  • I ran out of time to eat my lunch
  • I wasn’t hungry then
  • I forgot
  • I’ll eat it now
  • Mom, can we have something other than a turkey sandwich?

Ok, they have one thing right. No one wants to eat the same lunch everyday.

29 BACK TO SCHOOL LUNCH IDEAS

Quick & Easy

  • Turkey cranberry sliders
  • Ham and cheese pinwheels
  • Bacon, lettuce & tomato
  • Pigs in a blanket
  • Chicken salad sandwich
  • Walking taco salad
  • Crackers, salami & cheese
  • Chicken quesadilla
  • Turkey lettuce wraps
BLT sandwich for lunch.

Vegetarian Ideas

  • Cheese sandwich
  • Tomato sandwich on a croissant
  • Vegetarian hot dog sandwich
  • Cucumber sandwich
  • Peanut butter & jelly
  • Cream cheese and jelly sandwich
  • Cream cheese and crackers
  • Egg salad sandwich
  • Peanut butter and honey sandwich
  • Cheese quesadilla
  • Tzatziki & pita bread
  • Stripple (fake bacon) lettuce and tomato
  • Vegetarian chicken patties
Cream cheese and jelly for an easy school lunch idea.

Leftovers

We are 100% a leftover family. It eliminates food waste and saves us so much time in the kitchen. We’re also really big on using the same ingredients several different ways to get other meals from the one, but I guess that’s an entirely different blog post.

Leftovers come with us to work the next day and even to school when it’s the right type of leftovers. Our school age children don’t have access to a microwave and even when they do, it’s not ideal for 27 kids to warm up their meal at 45 seconds a person. So for leftovers we skip anything that needs to be reheated and keep it simple with things that are just as good eaten cold.

  • Pizza
  • Pancit
  • Chicken tenders
  • Stir fry
  • Spam Musubi
Leftover noodles with veggies.

Back To School Side Dishes

  • Pasta salad
  • Side salad
  • Chips and pickles
  • Hummus and veggies
  • Tzatziki and veggies
  • Veggie Straws
  • Harvest Snaps
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Tortilla chips and guacamole

Veggie Ideas

  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Carrot sticks
  • Celery sticks
  • Broccoli with Ranch

Fruit Ideas

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Kiwi
  • Clemintines
  • Halved grapes
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Pairs
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Peach
  • Mango
  • Pineapple ect.

Snacks and Other

  • Yogurt
  • Banana bread
  • Granola bar
  • Trail mix
  • Cheese stick
  • Dried fruit
  • Apple sauce
  • Yogurt covered raisins
  • Mini muffins
  • Cottage cheese and pineapple

Dessert Ideas

  • Cookies
  • Donut holes
  • Rice Krispy Treats
  • Yogurt covered pretzels
  • Brownies
  • Pudding ect.
Peanut butter brownies dessert idea.

SWITCH IT UP

The problem wasn’t that she no longer liked turkey sandwiches. The problem was it never really changed. Something as simple as switching out the deli meat or type of bread can make it feel like a different lunch all together.

Instead of the boring turkey sandwich we can switch out the bread for a croissant and have a turkey and Swiss croissant. Or skip the bread altogether for chicken salad with some crackers.

Lunch ingredients with pita bread.

Meat Ideas-

  • Turkey
  • Ham
  • Roast beef
  • Pastrami
  • Salami
  • Bacon
  • Chicken
  • Hot dogs
  • Bologna
  • Sausage
  • Spam
  • Tuna

Bread Ideas-

  • White
  • Wheat
  • Pumpernickel
  • Rye
  • Pita
  • French
  • Croissant
  • Slider buns
  • Tortillas
  • Crackers
  • Dinner rolls ect.
Bentgo Kids lunch container with separate compartments.

When is the best time for making school lunch

When school starts up again we soon fall back into an evening routine. I find the best time to make school lunches is in the evenings after dinner time.

Note- I know most of you know how to make a great sandwich but since we are making these the night before I just wanted to note that you can keep your sandwich from getting soggy by how you layer the ingredients. Personally, I like to use cheese and lettuce as a barrier to keep the bread from getting soggy.

Morning routine- Lunch was made the night before so now when the kids get up the next morning, they grab their lunch containers from the refrigerator and put everything inside their insulated lunch box, including an ice pack.

Best lunch box containers- For elementary age children we love our Bentgo Kids Tray from Amazon. It’s on the smaller size but it’s perfect for little lunch boxes and backpacks.

Our middle schooler needed something a bit bigger so we upgraded to this Leakproof Bento Lunch Container. The different compartments make meal prep so easy since you don’t have to hunt down smaller to go containers. It’s also leakproof and has a compartment just for utensils.

Don’t forget the ice pack- A lot of these back to school lunch ideas need to be kept cool until lunchtime. Be sure to use a durable insulated lunch box with extra ice packs to keep everything nice and cool.

BACK TO SCHOOL LUNCH IDEAS PRINTABLE

Back to school lunch ideas printable.

BACK TO SCHOOL LUNCH IDEAS FREE PRINTABLE DOWNLOAD

Sometimes it’s helpful to have these lunch ideas either downloaded to your phone or printed out so that it can be placed on the side of the refrigerator. That way kids of all ages can help decide their school lunch menu for the week. If we’re lucky they might finally run out of excuses and eat their lunch. And not on the way home from school.

Have some other great lunch ideas? I’d love to hear from you!

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