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Creative School Lunch Ideas

creative lunch ideas

Lately I’ve been on the hunt for creative school lunch ideas.

Starting next week, Ayva will be joining the ranks of legions of preschoolers before her.

In addition to moving up to the afternoon class at her school, she’ll also be eligible to participate in Lunch Bunch!

She had a sneak peek during summer camp, where she was able to stay for an extra hour at the camp and eat lunch with her friends. During the school year, she’ll have lunch before class starts, twice per week.

As I discovered during our Lunch Bunch trial run, coming up with lunches day after day is not easy.

Yeah, I know Pinterest has a ton of ideas, but who has time to make a sandwich that looks like a blooming flower in a garden when I can barely remember to make the lunch in the first place?

I learned a lot about lunches this summer, though, and feel totally prepared to amaze Ayva with my packed lunch skills. It’s really simple, even if you’re not one of those super crafty, “how in the world did you come up with that???” type of Mamas.

Think Outside the Sandwich

Sandwiches are cool, but our school doesn’t allow peanut butter.

I’ve heard there are other kinds of sandwiches besides PB&J and turkey, but I have no idea what they are. Like I said, I need some creative school lunch ideas.

Not wanting to bore Ayva with a turkey sandwich every day during our Lunch Bunch test drive, I thought about what else she likes to eat.

The answer was simple.


Fortunately, every preschooler I know loves snacks, so I packed a healthy lunch with bite sized nibbles.

Whole grain crackers with cheddar cheese and turkey pepperoni was one of Ayva’s favorite lunches. I added a yogurt tube, a few apple slices, and her water bottle. “Snack lunch” completely satisfied her, and held her until her afternoon snack of raisins or applesauce.

Other non-sandwich ideas you might consider include boiled eggs, kid-friendly salad, and pasta with pesto.

Just make sure you get a lunch box with an ice pack, and you’ll be good to go!

Cool and creative school lunch ideas

Okay, so one of my life goals is to master a few bento box lunches so that I can surprise Ayva when she goes to kindergarten next year.

Until then, I’ll just have to stick with my creative hacks to make her lunch special.

One of the things that I did this summer was purchase a sandwich cutter and cut her sandwiches into fun shapes.

The sandwich cutter only cost $1 at Target, but cookie cutters work just as well. The day that I sent a star shaped sandwich for Ayva’s lunch was her favorite lunch. When I picked her up after Lunch Bunch was over, she couldn’t wait to talk about how cool her lunch was!

She was super excited, and it only took me an extra minute.

Seriously, anybody can cut a sandwich!

Ayva also loved the little notes that I’d put in her lunchbox.

She’d ask her teachers to read them to her, and they reported to me that she would beam after they were finished. You know, children are so easy to please sometimes, it’s definitely worth a few extra minutes to make their lunch special.

It’s All About the Bag

A cool lunch is super important. Even if you have a creative school lunch and the inside of the bag is your basic protein/dairy/fruit & veggie, a cute lunch bag can make the middle meal memorable.

You definitely want to let your little one participate in choosing the bag that they like.

I’ll admit, I didn’t do that this summer, and while Ayva totally appreciated her Minnie Mouse lunch bag, she never let me forget that she would have LOVED a Hello Kitty bag.

Having a couple of different lunch bags that your child can switch out as they please is such an easy way to get them excited about lunchtime.

I know that we’re busy and all, but school is hard, even for preschoolers.

Between being challenged to learn new things, to social pressures (that I TOTALLY had no idea started so early! Aaah!), children are being pushed to their limits every day they go to school.

Why not take a few minutes to do something to remind them that no matter what, Mama loves them and they are special and worth the effort? It’s a tiny thing that means so much.

Other posts you might enjoy:

How to Dress Up a School Uniform

The First Thing to Do When You Pick Your Kids Up From School

Tips for Parents of Picky Eater Preschoolers

Arelis Cintron

Wednesday 11th of September 2013

Wow, who knew packing lunch was so stressful! What is a bento box? Is it like at the Japanese Restaurant, when they have bento lunches? Glad I have a few years to take some notes! Sarah from How I Pinch A Penny always has such cute things for their kids... I don't know how she does it all.


Friday 13th of September 2013

I know, @areliscintron:disqus ! You know, there are times when I almost FORGOT to pack Ayva a lunch, let alone a delicious one! Thank goodness for her brilliant, sharp, 4 year old memory! Yes, take notes. This is one parenting thing no one told me about!

Kristin Wheeler

Monday 2nd of September 2013

Your site is looking awesome Brandi!!! I was a bad mom the first week of school ~ LOL! I let them take Lunchables all week! Not this week though! I am stepping up my game!


Friday 13th of September 2013

Thanks so much, @kristin_wheeler:disqus! Okay, I want to know what you gave the kids this week!!!!

Sarah Mock

Monday 2nd of September 2013

You crack me up! What you don't see is me freaking out every morning because I over slept and running around trying to get ANYTHING healthy in the lunch box! I hear you about switching up the punchbag. My first grader loves to 'borrow' my Vera Bradley lunch box. I don't let her do it all the time but it is her treat and something special between her and me.


Friday 13th of September 2013

Oh, @sarahmock:disqus, you are the QUEEN of lunch! Loved your post, and will definitely try smoothies with Ayva this week! Yes, the lunchbag makes such a big difference! I had no idea, but Ayva promptly schooled me. LOL!


Sunday 1st of September 2013

Are you talking to me, you fun lunch ninja? I love the idea of having a few bags to switch out. And puhlease. Nothing so amazing here. In fact, I have that sam Target dollar section star sandwich cutter sitting on my desk waiting to go into action ;)


Friday 13th of September 2013

Yes, girl, I am talking about you! @mommytesters:disqus, I love the little pizzazz that you add to K's food. It just makes eating extra special. Even if we just take a little time, it can make such a huge impact on our kids' childhood memories. I love how your blog inspires that!