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20 Unique School- and Work- Friendly Lunches

Bethany Kochan

It’s that time of year again — time to get the kids off to school and you off to work in a timely manner. This also means that it’s time to prep the kids’ lunches, as well as your own, so you don’t go waste your hard-earned money buying meals out each day. But who wants to prep two different lunches five days a week?!

We certainly don’t…

If you feel the same, we’ve got you covered! Here are some ideas that your kids will be thrilled with, and you won’t feel like you’re back at the lunchroom table begging your friends to trade for something better.

Welcome wraps and pinwheels

Sure, you can pack sandwiches — they’re a staple for a reason. You can also make it a little more exciting and turn your sandwich into a wrap (and even slice them up into cute, little pinwheels too)!

Skinny Pizza WrapA whole wheat wrap, marinara, low-fat mozzarella and turkey pepperoni all wrapped up into a pizza you can pack up easily. Can be served room temperature or heat it up for melty goodness.

Mexican Pinwheels – This recipe takes all of your favorite flavors from a taco or burrito and puts it into a whole wheat wrap. Slice it up once it is set and it’s ready to pack for your lunch.

Cobb Salad Rollup – This wrap takes all the flavors of a Cobb salad, and puts it into an easy to grab lunch option. Change up the dressing if the kids are not fans of blue cheese.

Chicken Caprese Wraps – This recipe uses flatbread, but you can really use any type of wrap or tortilla that works for you and your family. You can leave the chicken out if you’d prefer a vegetarian version.

Easy Veggie Roll-upsThis version uses cucumbers and carrots, but the sky’s the limit with these. Cream cheese helps bind it all together and you can choose a low-fat version or even flavored. Then add the veggies you and your family like.

Hummus and TurkeyTake a wrap, spread your favorite hummus, add some turkey, spinach and red peppers for you – and you can leave them plain for the kids if they don’t like these veggies.

Peanut Butter and Banana – This combo is a winner for adults and kids. Filling and you can use a light wrap and natural nut butter along with bananas to make it with less sugar and calories.

Want to lighten these up even further? Instead of using a flatbread or tortilla, you can use a lettuce leaf, layer your ingredients, roll it up, and go!

Say hello to Bento!

Bento boxes are all the rage, but really it’s a cute way to pack up your lunch and keep everything separate. You can take any of the wraps or pinwheels above, add some cut up fruit and veggies and pack it in a cute box. But, here are some more ideas for Bento on the go!

Taco Salad BentoIn the largest section make your taco salad: lettuce, seasoned chicken, beef or even beans for a vegetarian version, tomatoes and shredded cheese. In another section add some tortilla chips and guacamole or salsa. Then you can add some corn and fruit in the other sections.

Breakfast for LunchBreakfast food is good anytime of day! This recipe uses whole wheat waffles to make a sandwich as the main course. Add fruit, some cottage cheese, and some cherry tomatoes and you have a complete and satisfying meal.

Dippers – Another breakfast idea for you is to take those whole grain waffles and slice them into sticks. Or make silver dollar size pancakes as your main focus. Include a small container of syrup, a hardboiled egg or two, some fruit and yogurt.

Snack Box – We all love snacking! So why not for lunch? Some sliced cheese, lunchmeat if you like, fruit, veggies, crackers and a yogurt or hummus dip. Make it colorful and include some of your and your kids favorite snack foods.

Marvel at mason jar lunches

Mason jars are a great way to prep and keep ingredients fresh for the week. You can heat up at work, but these also can work at room temperature for your kids.

Try some of these options from Super Healthy Kids that the whole family will love:

  • Burrito bowl jar with layers of all your favorite flavors.
  • A chocolate almond smoothie parfait can be filling and sweet, even at lunch time.
  • A fruit salad jar with dressing on the bottom is a pretty finish or can be the main course.
  • Try a chicken pot pie jar for a hearty meal that is portioned out and easy to serve.

And who doesn’t love pasta? Layer your favorite sauce on the bottom of the jar. Add in chicken, beef or your favorite protein and top with pasta or zucchini noodles. The options are endless with mason jar meals, and they will last 4-5 days in your fridge.

Self-soothe with soup

As we head into fall and winter, comfort comes to mind. Sweaters, crisp leaves, pumpkin everything and hearty meals. But hearty can be healthy too. A good thermos can keep soups warm until your kids’ lunch time, and keep it from soaking everything in their backpack.

Instant Pot Favorites – try Vegetarian Chili, Chicken and Wild Rice Soup or Chicken Tortilla soup from our previous post using your Instant pot to whip these up quick.

Healthy Tomato Bisque Soup – While most bisques use cream for a silky texture, this recipe from Fit Foodie Finds uses Greek yogurt to achieve that creaminess without all the unnecessary calories. They top theirs with some fresh basil and homemade bacon bits, which can be left off, or put on the side for later.

Lunch time doesn’t have to be a pain anymore. You can pack lunches the whole family enjoys while you still reach your goals!