A Lazy Mom’s Guide to School Lunches

I have 2 girls – one is starting 4th grade, the other is starting 1st. Their school offers school lunch and they will buy it, but I really hate when they come home and say they bought an Uncrustable or chicken nuggets for lunch. Part of it is because I want them to be eating healthy, a bigger part is that *I* want to use a junky short cut when I need it.


I also am not a morning person and I am not going to spend hours cutting fruit into the shape of flowers. I think the moms who do it are amazing, but I am sure not going to be the one doing it in the morning. I can barely get myself changed to go to the bus stop.

And my kids are good eaters, but still kids and still picky. One will not eat melted cheese (this includes pizza and grilled cheese) and the other will not touch anything green unless it’s a pea or a shelled edamame. Lunch meat is expensive and grosses me out after the first day.

This makes it easy, right? I need to make lunches that are easy, healthy, and for picky people.

So I try to pack lunches for the girls more often. Sometimes I pack a sandwich. But the big hits are:

  • Hummus and crackers and carrots
  • Mom-ables – Cheese and crackers and ham slices in a tupperware container
  • Pasta Salad – usually just noodles and carrots and peas in a tiny bit of olive oil
  • Soup – my kids love when I pack soup in a thermos – broccoli cheese, chicken noodle, lemon orzo
  • Roll-ups – Tortillas rolled around chicken or turkey
  • Yogurt parfaits – yogurt with stir ins (including sprinkles)
  • Quesadillas – I make an extra for dinner and serve it the next day
  • Tacos – send taco meat in a thermos and tortillas on the side with sprinkles cheese
  • Cheese board – laughing cow cheese, veggies, crackers
  • Elvis burrito – peanut butter, banana and bacon in a tortilla
  • Rice bowls – rice, chopped chicken, edamame, carrots, corn
  • Mini waffle bar – frozen eggos served with almond butter, syrup and bananas
  • Chicken nuggets – some times you have to do what works – bake them and pop them into a thermos or wrap in foil

I try and get a lunch plan every week when I plan dinner — this way I know if I am sending nuggets, I bake them off when I have the oven on already. If we are doing mom-ables, I pack those ahead of time.

I also go to Sam’s and buy a lot of things that can just be grab and go for snacks (and the main course)

  • proportioned guac and hummus
  • laughing cow cheese dippers
  • Cheese stickes
  • precut and wrapped apples
  • yogurt tubes
  • mini muffins
  • apple sauce in pouches
  • Panera soup
  • snack bags of crackers

From Trader Joe’s I buy mini bags of trail mix, granola bars, cheese sticks, pre cut cheese and ham, fruit leather.

I sort everything into baskets so I can blindly grab at things in the morning while i pack a lunch. When I am running behind, my girls will grab what they want and build their own lunch. Our formula is Main item (sandwich, hummus and veggies, soup, pasta, etc.), a snack (Popcorn, crackers, nutella dippers) and a fruit (or applesauce). If the girls have been hungry they add a yogurt or a cheese stick. They always pack a reusable water bottle.

If I have a few minutes, I will make a few family favorites that are great in a lunch box:

  • https://loveandmeatballs.com/banana-peanut-butter-chocolate-muffins-the-almost-elvis-muffin/
  • https://loveandmeatballs.com/cinnamon-sugar-pretzel-chex-mix/
  • https://loveandmeatballs.com/ham-peas-pasta-alfredo/

Happy Back to school!!!


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