The time has come for backpacks and books, school supply shopping and lunch packing. We are in full swing back-to-school mode over here, except this time I am officially sending my daughter off to Kindergarten. This means that I will be packing lunches for her 5 days every week. I need more in my arsenal than just PB&J sandwiches. I know the idea of packing cutesy Pinterest inspired lunches might be daunting for some parents, but for me it’s my one chance to make my daughter smile during her busy school day, since I can’t be there with her. So, this summer, I tried out some fun school lunches. They are fairly simple, kid-tested and approved AND have a lot of repeat ingredients to make for an easy shopping trip!
To start things off, make sure you have a good Bento box or Tupperware to send your lunches in. We like the Bentgo Kids box and the Rubbermaid kids lunchblox. I also like to make sure when I am menu planning to have a protein, fruit, veggie, dairy and grain in each meal. I also made sure to pack a small treat. Use my plan or adjust based on your child’s favorite fruits, veggies, and dietary needs.
Week 1 Shopping List: Sandwich Bread, milk, juice boxes, bananas, celery, carrots, ranch dressing, gummy worms, alphabet cookies, whole grain English muffins, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, olives, (other desired pizza toppings), yogurt, rotisserie chicken, mayo, grapes, pretzels, lunch meat, cheese slices, and raisins.
Monday: “Worm in Apple Sandwich”- Make your child’s favorite sandwich for the first day of school! Trim off the crust and form an apple shape with kitchen shears. Stick in a pretzel as a stem. Poke a couple holes through the sandwich and add the gummy worm to the sandwich. Pack some carrots and ranch dressing. Jot a note onto a banana and finish it off with some milk.
Tuesday: “DIY Pizzas”- The Bento Box was perfect for this lunch! I toasted a whole grain English muffin as the “crust” for the pizza. Then I added pizza sauce, cheese, pepperoni and olives as toppings. (Of course, these toppings can vary based on your child’s taste buds) I finished off the meal with a yogurt, juice box and some alphabet cookies (These are also good for sight word practice!) Don’t forget to send a spoon!
Wednesday: “Chicken Salad Sandwich” – Mix things up with a fun chicken salad sandwich! For our chicken salad I shredded rotisserie chicken. Then added mayo, celery, salt, pepper, dill and raisins, but feel free to experiment or use a favorite recipe. I ended up using this chicken salad in my daughters’ lunch 2x and then I was able to eat the leftovers throughout the week. I again turned the sandwich into an “apple” with the kitchen shears and pretzel. Then I added carrots and ranch, grapes, yogurt, a juice and some alphabet cookies!
Thursday: “Open Face Owl Sandwich” -Cut off the crust of the bread and make pointed owl ears with kitchen shears. Then add on your child’s favorite lunchmeat. Add pepperoni and olive eyes then add a beak and feet made from cheese triangles. Finish off this lunch with carrots and ranch, grapes, yogurt, a juice box and some gummy worms.
Friday: “Chicken Salad Ants on a Log”- Top celery sticks with leftover chicken salad and raisins to create Ants on a log. Write another note on a banana, add in some pretzels (Note my child insisted on cheese it crackers this particular day, but I intended to use pretzel sticks), milk and some gummy worms.
Week 2 Shopping List: (Hopefully you can reuse some of the non-perishable items from the previous week but here is a full list for the week) sandwich bread, lunch meat, string cheese, clementines, cheese slices, juice boxes, milk boxes, alphabet cookies, cucumber, ranch dressing, peanut butter, jelly, raisins, hummus, mayo, celery, banana, berries, carrots, goldfish crackers, gummy worms, tortilla, shell pasta, pepperoni, cherry tomato (or desired veggie for pasta salad) Italian dressing, and parmesan cheese.
Monday: “Book Sandwiches” – You can use bread or tortillas for these, just fold lunchmeat and cheese into a slice of bread or cut tortilla. Top with alphabet cookies (or If you want to get super fancy: write on them with a food coloring marker) Use a marker to write a note on a clementine and draw a pencil onto the string cheese. Include a juice box, cucumber and ranch dressing and some more cookies.
Tuesday: “PB&J Monkey”- Use a glass or cookie cutter to make a circle out of the bread. Make a PB&J and top with raisin eyes. Use the “end bread slice” and cut out 3 small circles with a small cookie cutter or bottle cap. Stick them on as ears and a mouth with peanut butter. Pack celery and hummus, milk, alphabet cookies and a banana. Note: Pictured are berries because my daughter refused a banana this day (KIDS!) but my plan was to write “I am bananas for you!” on the banana.
Wednesday: “Under the Sea Pasta”- Make up a quick pasta salad for the week. I used it 2 days in my daughter’s lunch and I enjoyed it a few times as well. I usually use whatever I have on hand for pasta salad. This time I used shell pasta and added pepperoni, cucumber, cherry tomato, Parmesan and Italian dressing, but get creative. I have used olives before and sometimes I use pesto instead of Italian dressing. Top your pasta with a clementine “Octopus” add in some “sea” cucumber with ranch, goldfish, milk and gummy eels…I mean worms. Don’t forget a fork!
Thursday: “Garden Turkey and cheese pinwheels”- Really you can use any lunchmeat for these, but my girl likes turkey. Just spread tortilla with mayo and add turkey and cheese slices. Roll and cut into pinwheels. Write a note or draw a flower on the clementine, then add in goldfish, carrots and ranch, milk and some gummy worms.
Friday: “Shells on the Beach Pasta”- Another day of pasta salad. This time use some hummus for “sand” add in some berries for “bubbles”, gummy “eels” some carrots for dipping, draw a shark on a string cheese and finish off with a juice box. Remember the fork!
There you have it! 2 weeks’ worth of healthy and fun kid-approved lunches. I hope these lunches bring a smile to your kiddos face during the first 2 weeks of school! Here’s to a wonderful school year!