School Lunches: Ideas for Busy Parents

We’ve seen some of the lunchbox ideas on Pinterest. They are cute and inspiring and, well, elaborate!  So, as fun as it could be for our kids to have a theme lunch or fruit that spells out their name or vegetables carved into their favorite superheroes — we prefer to keep things simple (and fun!) and healthy-ish (and fun!).  That’s why we’re sharing some of our favorite simple (and fun!) lunchbox ideas as well as a few thoughts from parents on the Sudara team.

Looking for family dinner inspiration, too?  We have lots more ideas on the blog and pinned here!

Sandwich Skewers

turkey sandwich lunchbox ideas
image via Lauren Greutman

Kids and parents alike get tired of sandwiches every day.  There’s something about food-on-a-stick, though, that can make them fun again.  Our kids love to dip all-the-foods into hummus or ranch, so  we will pack baby carrots or bell pepper strips (prepped on Sunday night for the week ahead) to eat too. We find that fruit doesn’t come back home if we take 2 minutes to peel and slice them in advance — segmented oranges, kiwi, apples (squirted with a little lemon juice/water mix to keep from turning brown), etc.


Chicken Salad with Carrots, Cucumbers and Strawberries

image via nomnompaleo
image via nomnompaleo


NomNom Paleo has a lot of great lunchbox ideas. And, they are all so easily adaptable to our busy schedules! One of the things that we love about this specific lunchbox idea is that we use leftovers! (the not-so-secret trick to packing lunches quickly!)  For this box, Michelle used roasted chicken and carrots; we’ve also used everything from leftovers of roasted turkey or chicken sausage with roasted acorn or butternut squash during the fall. Add a few crackers and some fruit and the kids are good to go!


Chicken, Apple and Cheese Wrap with Fruit and Mini-Muffins

image via TheOrganicKitchen

Wraps are great alternatives when your kids are all sandwiched out.  We like Linda’s suggestion to use organic deli-sliced chicken in place of the bread. And who doesn’t love a good trail mix?!  She uses her banana-nut muffin recipe in the photo; we’ve been known to make a big batch of zucchini or pumpkin muffins for weekend breakfasts and keep extra for lunches through the week.

Ideas from Parents at Sudara

“My kids used to love their sandwiches cut into shapes (crusts off, of course).  I found some Star Wars shaped ones and that my youngest kiddo loved and got him through elementary school but I would use regular cookie cutters too.”

“My kids loved fun and unique tableware – teeny little spoons for applesauce or funky straws for their juice.”

“Although our lunches are rather simple, we’ll make something fun together on Sunday nights that will last us through the week. Heather’s ‘Batman Bread’ is a sweet surprise and a perfect lunch-sized treat.”

Banana Back to School Batman Bread (for the first day of school and special occasions!)

bat shaped cookie cutter
a darkly colored sweet bread loaf, ie. zucchini bread, chocolate bread, pumpkin bread, etc.
yellow cake mix
banana flavor or browned/over ripe mashed banana
Slice the dark loaf in even slices
Lay flat and use cookie cutter to cut out bat shape,
Line all the bats upright in a standard loaf pan so that they’re all stuck back together forming a Long, continuous bat-shaped loaf
Mix the yellow cake batter and mash in bananas or flavor
Pour the cake mix over the long row of bat cut outs
Follow directions for baking temp & time.
The batter will rise over the bat cut out loaf, hiding it so when you pull it out of the oven, they’ll think it’s a regular loaf of sweet bread, but each slice will reveal a secret shape!
*depending on the season, could switch the shapes to hearts, pumpkins, flowers, etc