What To Pack for School Lunches

If you checked out my last blog about How to Become a Meal Planning Master, you’re probably wondering what our family eats when there aren’t leftovers for lunch without having to buy extra groceries. This post will mostly show you what my kid’s lunches look like during the school week. Don’t worry, this isn’t a crazy long list of a million different packed lunches like you may have seen floating around online. Honestly, what working mom has the time or money to do a completely different packed lunch for their kiddo every single day? I know I don’t. Plus, seriously, my kids are 5 & 8…they like eating the same sorts of things. They don’t need a new gourmet dish for every lunch. Kudos to you if you are a bento lunch expert. Maybe I’m just slightly jealous of your capabilities, but these lunches are a little more practical for our family.

I hit the jackpot with my kids’ school because there are no restrictions on what they can bring for lunch. It wasn’t always that way. My son was at a different school when he started kindergarten, At that school, if he even thought of bringing anything with nuts in it, he would be banished to a table with all the other exiled children who made the same mistake. My son hated it. PB&J is his absolute favorite type of sandwich, but it made him feel like he was in trouble when he had to be separated from his friends for wanting it in his lunch. Now that my kids are at their current school, I am so appreciative that they don’t segregate students based on what’s in their lunchbox. It makes it so much easier to pack lunches that my kids like and lunches they will eat.

My goal when I pack lunches for school is to pack enough food to get them through the day, but not so much that it will be wasted. I also try to pack items that will keep in their insulated lunchboxes until their scheduled lunchtime. Once the weather gets a little colder, I’ll whip out the thermoses and throw some warm entrees in the mix. We’ve had unusually warm weather this fall though, so they have just had cold lunches so far this school year. Their lunches will always have a source of protein, a fruit or veggie (or both), a complex carbohydrate, and a drink.

Cashews, clementine, sweet peppers, homemade yellow squash muffin,banana/granola bar


PB&J sandwich on whole grain seed bread, Applesauce, Celery sticks, Goldfish crackers
Yogurt, Banana/clementine, Veggie stix, PB&J sandwich crackers
Cheese tortilla roll-up, hummus, celery sticks, granola bar
PB&J sandwich on whole grain seed bread, roasted almonds, clementine
Tuna salad, Ritz crackers, Apple slices, Granola bar

These are just a few examples of what my kids usually have in their (mostly) vegetarian packed lunches. I stick with what I know my kids like and what I already have on hand. The main way to keep these simple lunches from getting old and boring is to switch up what veggies and fruits accompany them. I shop seasonally. That helps me save money and add some variety.

The most important thing to remember is that deciding what to pack shouldn’t be a complex task. It’s school lunch, not a gourmet cooking competition show. Just be sure your kiddos are getting the right nutrition and eating enough food to get them through their school day. What do you pack for your kids’ lunches? Share in the comments below!