Back To School Lunch Ideas

I have seen countless "pins" on Pinterest and "shares" on Facebook about lunch ideas for back to school. They've had eye-catching titles like "School Lunch Ideas They'll Love", and "How to Pack a School Lunch Your Kid Will Eat." I have to get in on the conversation because something strikes me about each of the articles I've read: no one is asking the kids. I'm not saying we should be catering to every dietary whim of our children...but shouldn't they at least be in on the conversation? If we want our children to be able to make healthy choices and to understand nutrition, shouldn't we give them an opportunity to practice those skills? I, for one, definitely think so. And guess what? If kids helped to decide what's in their lunchbox, you are much less likely to find it still in the box at the end of the day.

I sat down with my boys, just started kindergarten and grade one respectively, to talk about school lunches. My family's diet is pretty much just based on following Canada's Food Guide, and we always talk with the kids about the four basic food groups when we are meal planning and cooking together. Starting with the four food groups seemed like a natural way to start our discussion on planning school lunches, so we divided our page into sections before starting our brainstorm.

As each of the boys suggested something they'd like to see in their lunch box, I asked them what food group it belonged to and we wrote it under the appropriate heading. The first few ideas took a few minutes to come, but then I had to ask them to slow down so I could write them all. They had so many great ideas! (I know some the "treats" could be placed in one of the groups...but it's what they hope to have for a recess snack, so they were calling it a treat.)

We also talked about the possibility of trying a new lunch item of my choosing once a week. I think it would be a great chance to try a few new things! If your child is a creature of habit and wants the same sandwich every day however, it might be wise to start with subtle changes by varying that sandwich slightly. Instead of peanut butter and jam, try almond butter, soy nut butter, or sunflower butter. Instead of jam, try marmalade, honey, or fresh fruit. Instead of making it on sandwich bread, start using tortillas, bagels, rolls, or rice cakes. A little change each day can amount to a big change by the end of a month. Imagine what you could have them eating by Christmas vacation!

For nostalgia, here's what worked for us for lunches last year.

I am linking this post with #ThisIsBliss because what could be more blissful than a lunchbox that comes home empty?


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Lisa! So far our little worksheet has made the lunch packing (and the grocery shopping) a little easier!