Friday, January 22, 2010

School Lunch Ideas

Yikes! They just announced in our newspaper that our school district is raising school lunch prices another nickel. That may not sound like much, but it is already $1.85 for elementary school and $1.95 for secondary school. Times that by 2 children @ $1.85 and 2 children @ $1.95 it comes to $7.60 a day or $38.00 a week. That's about half of my weekly grocery budget! Not to mention I question some of the "healthy" lunch items that they serve.

If you are like me I run out of creative lunch box ideas quite often. I have one child that ate a bagel with cream cheese, half an apple, and a granola bar every day for half of the school year, but the other three are all about variety. I picked up a lunch box for my Star War's fan for a $1.00 at Deseret Industries. My 14 and 10 year old's lunchboxes came from the clearance table at Fred Meyer's. One cost $3.00 and one cost $2.50. I also bought a refillable thermos on the same clearance table for $1.25, and a couple at Deseret Industries for $.25 each . It's not cool to pack a lunch box in High School so my oldest son brown bags it, literally. It was an initial investment, but I think I have recouped the cost. My only dilemma was how to send beverages in their lunches. None of the lunchboxes came with thermoses, and Capri Suns and juice boxes are to expensive to do all the time.
After much brain storming I came up with these (I had to show you the thermoses, too.):
The frozen juice container is the perfect size (about 12 oz.) to send milk or juice, and it has a screw top, which is perfect for my 10 and 8 year olds. Fewer leaky messes when the lunch boxes come home! Anyway, here I are a few ideas for filling up your kid's lunchboxes.

Main items:
1. sandwiches made with leftover chicken, turkey, or roast.
2. spread a tortilla with peanut butter, drizzle with little honey and roll around a banana
3. PB and J rolled up in a tortilla
4. a bagel spread with flavored cream cheese ( I buy plain whipped cream cheese and blend strawberry or raspberry freezer jam into it to make flavored cream cheese; much cheaper than buying it ready made at the store).
5. homemade lunchables made with cheese slices and canadian bacon, pepperoni, bologna, or lunchmeat (cut the meat and cheese into fun shapes with a small cookie cutter) with crackers
6. leftover fried chicken
7. peanut butter and apple slices ( they sell tiny storage containers at Dollar Tree that are the perfect size for sending condiments in lunch boxes)
8. yogurt and graham crackers (my kids like to scoop the yogurt with the graham crackers)
9. Spaghettios (warm up and placed in a thermos)
10. leftover chili or soup in a thermos
11. basically any leftover warmed up and put in a thermos (not such a big hit with the little boys, but my daughter loves it)
12. cubes of cheese and pretzel sticks (my kids like to spear the cheese with them)

Side items:
1. applesauce and graham crackers
2. pretzels
3. apple slices (dip in 7 up or lemon juice if you kids are weird about brown apples)
4. any fruit in season
5. carrot and celery sticks or pickle slices with ranch dip
6. homemade trail mix
7. canned fruit sent in a reusable container (pineapple and mandarin oranges are very popular at my house)
8. tortilla chips and salsa

1. homemade muffins
2. homemade cookies, cake, or brownies
3. banana, applesauce, or pumpkin bread
4. jello or pudding (make your own and put in a washable container)
5. granola bars
6. flavored popcorn or carmel corn
7. yogurt covered pretzels
8. homemade fruit leather

Beverages (I always fill the containers 1/3 of the way full with milk or juice the night before and place in the freezer. In the morning I add more milk and the powder milk mix and shake it up good, or add more juice. By lunch time it has thawed enough to drink, but keeps the beverage cold:
1. chocolate milk
2. strawberry milk
3. orange or apple juice (made from concentrate, then you'll have the fabulous containers)
4. ice water
5. hot chocolate (fill the thermos with boiling water and send a cocoa packet. Add a leftover candy cane to stir it with)

Happy lunch packing everbody. Hopefully this post will save you a little money and give you some different ideas for lunchtime!


  1. Gotta luv the "healthy" lunches at school. And don't get me started on the cost! I love your list. I also send salad in a bag with drsg and croutons on the side. Taco salad is the best. Thank you Akela's Trail for that idea. Also wraps or BLT on toast. The boys love this bacon treat. Josh always says, "I smell BACON!" I think I will print your list and post for those "what should I fix" mornings.

  2. Great kids are sick of pbj and I only let them eat hot lunch once a week.

  3. So great ideas for lunch here at home since we homeschool!



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