oliveromg/shutterstockThe new lunch boxes are ready to go—now all you have to do is figure out what to put in them. If the thought of packing school lunch five days a week for the next 10 months leaves you exhausted, relax. We’ve put together a week’s worth of quick, nutritious meals that are proven kid-pleasers (plus one more for your extra-finicky small fry). And here are four really cool ways to pack a lunch.
1. Anything in a pinwheel
If your kid is anti-sandwich, try this: Roll up his favorite lunch meat, cheese, and veggies in a wrap, then slice it into bite-sized “pinwheels.” It’s like having hors d’oeuvres for lunch. And who doesn’t love hors d’oeuvres?
2. Pancake sandwiches
Got leftover pancakes? You’re halfway there. Use pancakes as the bread and top them with PB&J, cream cheese and jam, or almond butter and honey. Skip dessert and toss in some fruit instead.
3. Dumplings and dipping sauce
If kids can eat a food with their fingers, it’s usually a winner. Heat up some frozen dumplings and seal them in a thermos to keep them warm. Pour store-bought dumpling sauce into a small sealable container, or mix your own with soy sauce, sugar, and rice vinegar.
4. Chicken fingers
Instead of giving your child lunch money to buy the cafeteria’s mass-produced recipe, make your own baked version using organic chicken. Pack your kid’s favorite dipping sauce and don’t expect any leftovers.
5. Fried rice
All you need for this one is a cup of rice and a fridge full of leftovers. Make the rice (white or brown, whatever you’ve got) and throw it in a pan with a dash of oil, some soy sauce, leftover veggies or protein, and an egg. Spoon it into a thermos and don’t forget to pack a fork (or chopsticks).
6. Yogurt parfait
Chop up some fruit and place it in the bottom of a sealable container. Layer on some jam or honey, then top with plain or vanilla yogurt. Pack a spoon so your child can mix it up herself at lunchtime.