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A Week of Easy Lunchbox Menus

A Week of Easy Lunchbox Menus

It can be tough to think up fresh school lunch ideas day in and day out, especially given the fact that lunch-making duties often occur in the early, groggy hours of the morning. To help simplify the process, we asked our top Foodie Mom bloggers for easy, healthy lunch ideas and have put together lunchbox menus for an entire school week. Bon appetit!

Monday: Bento Box or Snack Lunch

Kids love lunches with small portions of many items. Among the healthy lunchbox ideas of Marina Delio of Yummy Mummy is this selection of bento box fillings:

  • Peanut butter or hummus with "dippers" (apples, carrots, celery, bell pepper, crackers, etc.)
  • Boiled egg
  • Cherry tomatoes, snap peas or any other favorite fruit and veggies

Pam of For the Love of Cooking also praises "snack" lunches and offers the following easy-to-assemble menu:

  • Cheese slices
  • Turkey pepperoni
  • Whole wheat crackers
  • Grape tomatoes and carrot sticks
  • Strawberry slices and a few raspberries
  • Pretzels
  • Small treat for dessert

Tuesday: One-Color Lunch

Perhaps not surprisingly, one-color lunches are a smash hit with kids. They're also quite easy to think up, says Janelle of Talk of Tomatoes: "You'd be surprised how many great, one-colored lunches/ideas you can come up with." Bonus: Colorful foods are generally healthy fruits and veggies. Test drive the one-color lunch option with these all-orange lunch options:

  • Orange crackers with orange cheddar cheese
  • Orange bell pepper or carrot slices
  • Apricot yogurt or dried apricots
  • Orange juice and orange slices
  • Kumquats
  • BBQ Kettle chips (baked!)

Wednesday: Deluxe Bagel Lunch

A whole-wheat bagel forms the base of this well-balanced lunch. As Susan of Our Family Eats describes her menu: "It covers protein, whole grains, calcium, and fruit with a nice balance of sweet and savory. Plus the bagel adds a little variety from plain bread."

  • Whole wheat bagel with sun butter (like peanut butter, but made from sunflower seeds), and raisins sprinkled on top
  • Organic string cheese
  • Pineapple chunks

Thursday: Leftover Chicken Lunch

Wondering what to do with the leftover chicken from dinner last night? Whip up this leftovers lunch menu from Janice and Liz of Meal Makeover Moms Kitchen:

  • Fruity chicken kebabs, made of chicken chunks, grapes, and strawberries
  • Whole wheat mini bagel with cheese
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Juice box or low-fat fruit smoothie

Friday: PB&J Lunch

It's finally Friday! You survived the week and we've saved the easiest school lunch menus for today, both of which are built around the classic lunchtime staple: PB&J!

The first traditionalist menu comes from Jana Brown of Cornaby's:

  • Smooth peanut butter and low-sugar jam sandwich
  • Cheese sticks
  • Fresh fruit

Janine W. of Eat Something Else! Encouraging the Resistant Eater suggests an alternative PB&J menu, swapping the cheese and fruit for plenty of veggies and a little bit of dessert.

  • Nut butter and jelly on whole grain bread
  • Tomato soup
  • Broccoli florets
  • Baby carrots
  • A small treat, like one square of dark chocolate

Image Source: iStockPhoto

Join The Conversation
NatalieStanton NatalieStanton 5 years
How bout just saying - thank you! What happened to - if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all?
TaraPegleyStanger TaraPegleyStanger 5 years
I am amazed to read about the candid views of so many people, adults who can be so narrow minded. The protein in peanuts is not easily removed and would remain on hands, in saliva for hours after contact. The protein in wheat for example can be simply brushed from the hands after contact.This may help people who don't understand why you have nut free schools and not wheat free schools for example. How can people truely say their children are suffering because they cant have nut products in their lunch box, suffering is; no food in your lunch box, suffering is having to go without food because you are allergic to it, get a life guys. Peanuts and other allergens are, for some children life threatening, would you let your child eat their lunch in an area where, for example rat poison lay, its the same concept, life threatening, think a little please.
rodalynmaesilloren rodalynmaesilloren 5 years
umm sory but why are most schools nut free? and no egg? huh?! sorry but why are most schools nut free? Sorry for my ignorance i live outside US
TaraWestonRolling TaraWestonRolling 5 years
I cannot believe the negativityI have read about this article! Sitting at a different table will NOT help the child who is allergic to peanut butter. It is in the OIL that will remain on the child's hands who is eating the sandwich, and transfer to the crayons, which is held by the chid with the allergy. That child rubs his mouth, etc. I have seen this happen in a restaurant! My son LOVES peanut butter but understands that his friend is allergic and so he never complains about not eating it at school. He is 4. How can parents not understand this when a 4 yr old does? What if the child with severe allergies was your child? Would you want him or her to sit alone at a separate table because other parents refused to come up with alternative lunches for their children? THINK BEFORE YOU COMMENT!!! Our neighbour's son is allergic to nuts and I'm constantly making sure my son's hand are peanut-oil free so when they share toys the boy is safe.
CoMMember13630921588541 CoMMember13630921588541 5 years
I cannot understand why there are nut free schools. Our school has designated tables that are peanut/nut free. Why punish all the children when only a few have allergies?
JenniferJacy JenniferJacy 5 years
Peanut free lunch ideas? Please?
JessiWeigelHobgood JessiWeigelHobgood 5 years
Preschools accept children as young as three, by the way. And according to my pediatrician some of the top foods that children choke on under the age of six (yes SIX) are: hotdogs, popcorn, celery, grapes, (grape/cherry tomatoes), steak (or other tough peices/ chunked meat), larger peices of 'chunked' fruit. Whoever made the snide comments about choking hazzards or children with peanut allergies need to do a little research. Try being educated and informed, not just opinionated! I feel sorry for your children.
JessiWeigelHobgood JessiWeigelHobgood 5 years
Hummus? My child would look at me as though I had five heads. I agree with the choking hazzards. I give my daughter baby carrots, grapes, celery sticks, but I slice them long in thin strips. Mott's no sugar added applesauce cups are a hit in my home, too. I agree with the no nut policy. If it were my child at risk, I would feel much better knowing those items were not allowed.
CindyTso CindyTso 5 years
Again, we see the "suffering" in User's comment on October 4th. Really, do kids "suffer" when they DON'T have peanut butter? Suffer????! Come on. Kids suffer when they are exposed to ignorance and selfishness like yours. That stupidity is what should really been contained to your own home.
hannekehartkoorn hannekehartkoorn 5 years
Choking on a baby carrot or cherry tomato? we're talking about lunchboxes for schoolkids! Not for babies! I'd sat that a schoolkid that manages to choke on a cherry tomato really has a problem and should be sent to a speech therapist!
TaraWendover TaraWendover 5 years
Kids with peanut allergies should be home schooled so the rest of the kids do not suffer. How does the school know if the kids have eaten nuts at home or touched somthing containing nuts. The child will have a reaction if he/she comes in contact with it. So it is a no win situation anyways.
ChristyThomasHandzo ChristyThomasHandzo 5 years
For those of you who are unsympathetic and can't refrain from disrespecting someone who has a food allergy - you are awful people! Have you no clue that because you are being so thoughtless that someone could die? God forbid your precious kid can't have peanut butter at lunch at school or tough that your kid can't bring in baked goods for a birthday because someone has an egg or a wheat allergy. Try walking in the allergic kids shoes for just a little bit. Try imagining what it would be like to have to read every label and question EVERYTHING that you have to eat. And then having to wonder if the person that sat at the table before you didn't wipe peanut butter or eggs on the table or seat. Try thinking outside of your own world for just 20 minutes and realize how selfish you are being! Dividing the cafeteria is not a solution. Do you remember what it was like to be 4, 7 or 10? Seperate but equal doesn't work in those age groups. Why should you have to sit away from your friends because their parents didn't want to pack them a lunch that didn't have peanut butter? Really people???
ChristyThomasHandzo ChristyThomasHandzo 5 years
Whose school is NOT peanut free?? And what 4 year old eats much of this stuff?
ChrissyMcCormack ChrissyMcCormack 5 years
Yeah.. half of that wont work for my children. Our school is not nut free, but I wish it was. Since my children are allergic to peanuts, milk, and eggs.
CoMMember13613655526583 CoMMember13613655526583 5 years
Anybody else have a school that mandates the FAT content of lunches? I'm on a tight budget, so my son's and my lunches, whether packed or at home, are simply leftovers from last night's dinner. I dread him starting kindergarten, as the school he will attend requires that all food fall below a certain percentage of fat. I suppose it's possible to prohibit items that come pre-packaged with nutritional information on them, but I have no idea how they will react to homemade casserole or curry. (I cook entirely from scratch, so I really can't just check a label.)
KimberleyRymal KimberleyRymal 5 years
Peanut butter is strictly forbidden in schools here in Quebec, due to peanut allergies.
RebeccaDewyea RebeccaDewyea 5 years
THANK YOU Sara Burney and Cindy Tso for your comments. From the mother of a severe peanut allergy son, there are way to many ignorant people when it comes to life threatning food allergies, as this site has proved. Glad some people have a little common sense.
staceyscheepers staceyscheepers 5 years
We have to omit the peanut butter and milk/cheese due to allergies. Any other suggestions?
RebeccaHill6914 RebeccaHill6914 5 years
Thank you for these great ideas. I just wish others were not so quick to be mean. If your school is nut free (which ours is not) then just modify or forget it. And those comments about cutting up the food smaller, we are talking about school age kids. If your child is attending school then they should know how to eat. They did not say preschool lunch. Be smart and if your child is younger the cut things up. Thanks again for the great ideas.
SunelleMoore SunelleMoore 5 years
I'm a single mother on a tight budget. so packing a healthy lunch can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. What works for me (and my son), is packing leftovers from the previous night's dinner. I usually make one dis dinners, like a savoury tart, or steak and kidney pie. I would pack that for him, with a bottle of juice, some joghurt, salad and a fruit. He enjoys it and I know that my child had a healthy, balanced lunch at school. For break at ten o'clock they are only allowed a sandwich, I prefer putting a savoury spread on it, such as Marmite, but my son sometimes enjoy a salad sandwich as well, with lettuce, tamatoes, cucumber and cheddar cheese. I cut both his sandwich and his lunch in manageable pieces, so that he can easily eat it. On Friday's, he has to take money to school, as it is Tuck day, so they learn the value of money as well as get a nice treat.
KellyWallace86037 KellyWallace86037 5 years
Great dana, selfish goes all over this world. Everyone has some selfishness.
shelleyskedden shelleyskedden 5 years
we can not even have anything brown for spreads on the sandwiches. I get Ellie to help make the tuna or salmon sometimes hummus sandwich. makes her feel good to help.she also is starting to help pack her food for lunch.
PattiLeBlanc PattiLeBlanc 5 years
Not so easy when the school has a nut free policy.
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