If you need back to school lunch recipes and inspiration, you are not alone. Which is why we have lots of it–websites and other online resources that are jam-packed with awesome school lunch recipes that are easy to make, healthy and even creative. Not like, make-a-sculpture-out-of-cheese-and-toothpicks creative, but healthy-and-the-kids-might-actually-eat-it creative. And that’s something we can all use a dose of in our school lunches.
ONE HUNGRY MAMA
For years on my own site, I’ve put together so many great school lunch recipes that I think you’ll find helpful. Think easy rice and grain bowls that come together as quickly as you can throw four or five ingredients into Tupperware; DIY fruit and veggie fruit leathers that taste just like fruit roll ups; and quick-to-make lunchbox dips that challenge the merciless reign of the ho-hum sandwich. And that’s seriously just the tip of the iceberg if you scroll through the archives.
Also, be sure to visit the school lunch ideas playlist on my YouTube channel, and you’ll be armed and ready! Also, hopefully, you’ll be entertained too.
Aimee at Simple Bites is among my favorite food bloggers, recipe developers and soon-to-be cookbook authors on the whole internet. As a trained professional chef and serious urban homesteader, you might think that Aimee churns out too-fancy-for-us meals, but her food is elegantly simple and back-to-basics. After all, she’s also a mom to three kids. You’ll find lots of inspiration throughout Simple Bites, but start with her post on 29 New Lunchbox Ideas. She includes recipes for ambitious cooks who want to make homemade sandwich bread or chewy fruit snacks from scratch; but I really love that she offers low-maintenance recipes for everyone, including healthy snacks like oven-dried peaches and ridiculously easy chia pudding. Aimee also offers a whole section on gluten-free lunch ideas which will be helpful for lots of you.
Hold on to your lunch boxes. Momables is a service that, for $8 per month (or less if you sign up for a year), will drop an inspired lunch box meal plan and shopping list into your e-mail every week. There are two plans: classic and grain-free. All you have to do is buy the ingredients and follow directions. Talk about making school lunch easy!
Even if you don’t subscribe to the service, Momables has a fab school lunch blog with tons of tested-and-approved recipes like hummus cucumber cups and allergy-friendly monkey bars. These folks are experts; Momables founder and all around awesome mom, Laura Fuentes, just published another must-have lunchbox resource, The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet cookbook.
FOOD FOR MY FAMILY
Shaina at Food for My Family packs four school lunches a day (our hero!), so I’d say that makes her a school lunch expert, too. I like posts like Breaking Down School Lunch Ideas which helps you twist a limited palate of foods into new ideas each day. Also look at her incredibly comprehensive list of ABC ideas for school lunches to eat well and spend less; she clearly knows what it’s like to feel both inundated with options, and bored by the lunch-making rut and it shows in her incredibly helpful tips. Plus her site is packed with school lunch recipes—there’s a whole section for them—that include snacks and sides, to fill up all your new fun lunch box gear.
Okay, I did say I’d cover nothing fancy, but what if the fancy lunches are easy, too? Esteemed food writer and Food52 founder Amanda Hesser documents her own school lunch exploits with her grade-school-aged twins in a Food 52 column appropriately dubbed Amanda’s Kids’ Lunch. Don’t be scared, but there aren’t many sandwiches in sight. Unless you count the cream cheese and leftover roast salmon and spring onion sandwich, which is a great example of what I love about this column. (Not that every kid will eat roast salmon and spring onions; I get it.)
Amanda’s lunches are all about thinking of school lunch as an extension of simple, seasonal family cooking. She expertly uses leftovers and applies the same strategies to lunchbox meals that she uses to come up with quick weeknight meals. It’s a beautiful thing. And it’s not always complex, as with her four-minute lunch idea (shown at very top). Oh and, by the way, even Amanda packs a version of the classic PB&J for some lunches, but hers has marshmallow fluff. Now that’s one down-to-earth food writer.
Check out our archives for more school lunch recipe ideas and find lots of inspiration!