Easy Back-to-School Lunches

Weekday mornings are hectic enough without having to rack your brain for what to pack your little one for lunch. We’ve put together a list of simple ideas that will keep things interesting for your child, without making a whole lot of extra work for you. Post this list on your refrigerator for those times when you need inspiration!

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Put it together in 5 minutes or less:

Pair each entree suggestion with a side of fresh berries, fruit, sliced vegetables, or their favorite dried fruit snack.

Hummus & Veggies – Scoop a generous portion of hummus into a container and pair with your child’s favorite veggies, along with a handful of tortilla chips or pretzels.

Nut Butter Wrap – Spread your child’s favorite nut or seed butter on a whole grain wrap. Top with a little bit of jelly and/or freshly sliced banana, strawberries, or apple.

Charcuterie for Tots – In a sealed container, combine a variety of hormone-free, organic meats and cheeses such as turkey, ham, salami, cheddar, and Swiss. Pair with seeded crackers or a wrap, and let them make their own mini sandwiches.

Quesadilla – Spread a tortilla with canned refried beans and a little cheese. Fold in half and cook in a skillet until browned (or microwave in a pinch!). Let cool, then slice and pack with a small container of guacamole for dipping.

Breakfast for Lunch – Split an English muffin and spread with cream cheese. Top with sliced hard boiled egg and some fresh spinach.

Picnic Lunch – Portion out a bit of tuna salad or egg salad. (Find it ready-made in our grab-and-go section!) Pair with crackers or pita.

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Reinvent Leftovers:

Pasta Salad – Turn leftover pasta into a quick salad: add chopped celery, some cooked vegetables such as broccoli or green peas, dressing of choice, some shredded cheese, and sliced almonds or pine nuts for crunch.

Waffle Panini – Make sandwiches using leftover pancakes or waffles as the bread, and spread with cream cheese, seed or nut butter, and/or jam. Press in a panini press or griddle on the stove top. Cool and slice.

Harvest Bowl – Toss together leftover grains, proteins, and vegetables, and top with cheese and/or seeds for a healthy lunch. Try baked or blackened tofu, roasted sweet potato, rice, and pumpkin seeds topped with sliced avocado. Or, turkey meatballs and broccoli over barley with shredded mozzarella.

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Make-Ahead Recipes:

Make these recipes over the weekend and add them to lunches all week for an extra-special (healthy!) dessert option.

Sweet Hummus Dip – Try Delighted by Hummus brand dessert hummus with graham crackers. Or, make your own Cookie Dough Dip like this one.

Chia Pudding – Chia pudding is creamy and satisfying enough to count as a dessert, or it can be topped with plenty of fresh fruit and a handful of granola for a filling, protein- and fiber-rich lunch option. To make, combine 1.5 cups milk (plant milk works too!), ½ cup chia seeds, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and maple syrup to taste. (Try 1-2 tbsp.) Let it sit overnight, then stir and portion into serving containers. (It should be thick and creamy – if it is too runny, simply add more chia seeds and stir.) Try mixing in colorful superfood powders like Acai, Pomegranate, or Spirulina to give the pudding gorgeous color!

Allergen-Friendly Muffins – For a simple boxed mix, try Simple Mills brand Banana Muffins (can be made without eggs) or try a recipe like this one.

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Easy Grab-and-Go Snacks:

These are tried-and-true favorites that kids love. Keep them on hand for when the refrigerator is bare and you need to throw together something nutritious.

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