Step up your school lunch game: A guide

No matter how packed or free your schedule is, we could all use some meal inspiration

Stock image. Katerina Holmes (Pexels)

Many parents have the packed-lunch thing down to a science: Throw a sandwich, an apple, some veggies or chips into a lunchbox, and call it a day. But it’s not always that easy. Or maybe you have a picky eater on your hands, and the school year poses a real challenge.

Let’s spice up the menu, shall we?

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  • Instead of a sandwich, you could pack up or prepare a wrap -- perhaps chicken salad, egg salad, or tuna salad.
  • Parfaits -- just layer yogurt, fresh fruit, and granola.
  • Quesadillas -- think outside the box, these can include more than just chicken and cheese! Experiment with black beans, or even spinach and mushrooms.
  • Smoothies -- they’re a great way to sneak in fruits and vegetables, plus, you can make a big batch ahead of time. Just freeze, and then find an appropriate container to make the idea lunchbox-friendly.
  • Eggs -- hard-boiled likely would work best.
  • Pasta salad -- an easy way to use up any extra veggies cluttering up your crisper.
  • Homemade chicken nuggets -- make a big batch and freeze.
  • Soups -- chicken noodle, split pea, tomato … another easy idea to prepare ahead of time, and then serve leftovers (you’ll have to pack in re-sealable containers). You could even use your slow cooker, to save even more time.
  • Homemade macaroni and cheese -- not as difficult as you’d imagine; always a great opportunity to throw in some broccoli or spinach.
  • A taco bar -- you could create a take-to-school version with some Tupperware. It’s like a homemade Lunchable.
  • Lunch skewers -- stack a sandwich on here (in fourths), or even fruits or veggies.

As already noted in some of these bullets, many of these suggestions are easily customizable -- or can be prepared well in advance, so that you’re not boiling noodles at 6 a.m. on a workday. Bon appetit!

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