Order by 11:00am central time for same-day shipping!

10 Back to School Must-Make Lunches

Diversify your kid’s school lunches with some of these back to school lunch ideas.

It’s time to start gearing up for another school year. As much as I am looking forward to getting the kids back on a schedule, some changes needed to be made. My kids sat me down and shared their expectations with me – their lunch expectations. They’re getting older now and apparently I’m no longer allowed to make all of their decisions.

They had their own ideas about their lunches and the pb&j’s that I normally pack are no longer as “popular” as I once thought. Before your kids sit you down and have “the talk” with you, I thought that I would share some new lunch ideas to start the school year off with a fresh slate.

Also, rather than adding unhealthy bags of chips to the lunch box, try making a fruit salad, celery or carrot sticks, or use pita chips as an alternative.

1. Chicken Salad with Crackers

  • 2 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken, drained and flaked
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 apple, coared, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 tablespoons cranberries
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 10-12 lettuce leaves

In a small bowl combine the chicken, onion, mayonnaise, cranberries, apples, salt and pepper. Mix together. Add 2-3 spoonfuls of chicken salad to a small bowl or tupperware container. In a plastic sandwich bag add 6-8 crackers and seal.

2. Pita Filled with Turkey and Provolone

  • 4 whole wheat pita bread
  • 8 slices turkey slices
  • 4 slices provolone cheese
  • 10-12 lettuce leaves
  • 4 tomato slices, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, coarsely chopped, optional
  • Your favorite condiment for spread (dijonaise, hummus, mayonnaise, or garlic yogurt sauce (see below for garlic yogurt recipe)

Slice pita bread and add a layer of your favorite condiment, fill with turkey slices, cheese, lettuce, tomato and any additional ingredients.

Roasted Garlic Yogurt

  • 16 oz. plain cold yogurt
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt to taste

In a small glass bowl, add garlic cloves to olive oil and bake for 15 minutes.Set aside to cool. In a small mixing bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Mix well. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

3. BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 6 chicken breast halves, skinless and boneless
  • 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce (whatever your favorite is)
  • 2 cups coleslaw, optional

Place chicken breasts into the bottom of a slow cooker and pour barbecue sauce over them. Lid and cook for 3 to 4 hours on high until cooked through and nearly falling apart. With a fork, shred the chicken well and add any additional bbq sauce. Serve on burger buns with coleslaw or lettuce and tomato.

4. Cali-Style B.L.T 

  • 1/2 lb bacon (approx. 12 slices)
  • 8 slices white bread
  • 8 leaves iceberg lettuce, fresh and full
  • 8 slices of ripened tomatoes
  • 8 tablespoons Ranch salad dressing
  • 1 avocado, sliced length-wise

Cook bacon until crispy, then drain on paper towels. Toast the 8 slices of bread and spread 1 tablespoon ranch salad dressing on each slice of toasted bread. (More or less, to taste). Then add lettuce and tomato to toasted bread. Arrange 3 slices of bacon evenly on top of tomato. (Break bacon slices in half to fit, if needed.). Add 1 slice of lettuce on top of bacon and add avocado. Finally, spread the remaining 4 pieces of toast with Ranch salad dressing and place on top to finish the sandwiches.

5. Mini Meatball Subs

For meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

To assemble subs:

  • 1 (26.5 ounce) can spaghetti sauce or make your own sauce
  • 3/4 cup shredded Italian cheese mix 8 dinner rolls, split

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a large bowl, combine ingredients for meatballs; mix well. Form mixture into 8 large meatballs. Place meatballs in a 9×13 inch baking dish and bake for 20 minutes. In a large saucepan, add meatballs and pour the maranara sauce and cook on medium low heat until it simmers. Simmer sauce until meatballs are fully cooked, about 20 minutes.

To make this lunch box ready: In a small tupperware container, place one meatball, sprinkle with Italian cheeses, and a bit of sauce and add top. Place sliced roll in a plastic bag. Child can assemble the meatball sub at lunchtime amid all of the looks of jealousy from the other children.

6. Soft Tacos

  • 4-6 soft flour tortillas
  • 1 lb. shredded or picked chicken
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 c. salsa

In a slow cooker, add shredded or picked chicken meat, broth and seasoning and cook for 4-6 hours. To assemble taco, lay flour tortilla flat and fill with chicken taco filling, sprinkle with cheese and roll up. In a small plastic container, add a small amount of salsa as a condiment. Further, in a separate container, add lettuce and tomatoes.

7. Quesadilla

  • Large flour tortillas
  • Grated cheese – either mild or sharp cheddar, or Monterey Jack
  • Olive oil
  • Salsa, optional

Optional: Spinach orlettuce Black olives, sliced Fresh tomatoes, diced Shredded chicken Avocado Lettuce Coat a skillet thinly with oil and turn heat to medium. Add tortilla and heat until air pockets begin to form. Poke with a fork and add cheese and additional ingredients. Allow to cool and place in plastic bag. In a small tupperware, add a small amount of salsa for dipping.

8. Italian Antipasto Wraps

  • 8 ozs light cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsps fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 teasoon greek seasoning
  • 6 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup pitted ripe olives, sliced
  • 4 ozs salami
  • 4 ozs ham
  • 6 8-inch tortillas
  • 1/2 cup artichokes, coarsely chopped, optional

In a small bowl, mix cream cheese with the basil and garlic. On each tortilla, spread about 2 tablespoons of this mixture on the tortillas to within 1/4 inch of the edge. Layer with romaine, salami, ham, and cheese.Next, layer on the olives, and artichoke hearts if you prefer. Tightly roll up the tortilla and cut in half on the diagonal.

9. Grilled Provolone and Ham

  • 8 slices French bread, each about 1/2-inch thick
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 teaspoons honey mustard
  • 4 thin slices ham
  • 4 ounces sliced provolone cheese

In a large skillet, melt butter and add bread slices. Spread unbuttered side with honey mustard.Cook over medium heat until sides are golden. Add ham and construct sandwiches. Allow cheese to melt and take off skillet.

10. Chip and Dip Plate

Pack your kids favorite dips like tzatzki, salsa, hummus or guacamole and let them dip away! Serve with pita crackers for dipping , celery and carrot sticks and voila!

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on August 12th, 2013