Brown Bag Lunch Ideas

Back to School Tips: Nine Healthy Ideas for Avoiding Packed Lunch Boredom

It's not easy to keep coming up with healthy and fun school lunch ideas. No wonder most parents tend to pack the same foods over and over again. So just how do you avoid brown bag boredom? Here are some simple ideas to spice up your child's lunch box. 

Change the Bread – Or don't use bread at all. Kids can get bored with sandwiches - so why not try the same fillings but make it a little more exciting by changing the bread? You can try pita bread, bagels, tortilla wraps or even crackers or breadsticks. Place the fillings on the side and your child can assemble the crackers or sandwiches themselves. 

Try a Salad – Your typical lettuce and tomato salad is great, but also try pasta salad or potato salad. Cook and drain the pasta or potatoes and mix with a little mayonnaise or olive oil, add some cut up veggies such as corn kernels, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots; add some sliced turkey, chicken or ham and place in a plastic travel container. 

Fun, Fun, Fun – On the days where you go for the traditional sandwich try cutting the bread with fun shapes using cookie cutter. You can also cut slices of cheese or ham into fun shapes. Cookie cutters are something every mom should make good use of. You'll be amazed at how a boring cheese sandwich will get gobbled up when shaped into a flower or dinosaur. 

Fingers Foods – Sometimes kids, especially younger ones, don’t like to eat a whole sandwich or bowl of food. Instead you can try preparing cut up cubes of cheese, grapes, carrot sticks, pretzels, mini crackers, and ham cubes. Place in a container with individual compartments or just a standard one for a fun lunch. You can also try cutting sandwiches into small rectangles or triangles for easier eating. 

Pinwheels Anyone? – Instead of sandwiches, try pinwheels. Cut the crust from two slices of bread, flatten bread using the back of your hand or rolling pin. Spread thinly with cream cheese. Place one slice of ham and roll each slice into a log shape. Wrap in cling film and place in freezer for about 30 minutes. Unwrap and cut into pinwheel rounds. 

Dip It – Kids love dipping stuff. For an easy and nutritious lunch snack you can cut apple wedges and serve with a strawberry or peanut butter dip or cut up veggies served with a hummus dip or try a cream cheese dip. For a more substantial lunch add pieces of pita bread, breadsticks or crackers. 

Lunch Notes – Write cute little notes once in a while to put a smile on your little one's face. A simple note with a smiley face saying "I love you" or "I miss you"  can instantly make a child feel better. For older children (who will no doubt be embarrassed by smiley faces and cutsie notes) try a riddle or brain teaser instead.

Be a Creative Mama – Think outside the box (the lunch box, that is.) Pack mini pizza slices, mini hamburgers, meatballs or chicken drumsticks. Add some potato wedges on the side. Or try tortilla chips with strips of cheese, turkey and sliced tomatoes. Add a sour cream and/or guacamole dip for instant lunch time nachos, perfect for older children or teens. 

Or how about some savory mini muffins using chopped, cooked bacon and chives or grated cheese and ham? Sweet fruit mini muffins will be a big hit too... 

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