Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer (*sigh*) and the start of the new school year. The lazy, unstructured days of vacation are at an end, and now it’s back to the swing of classes, homework, and projects. But getting back into a routine doesn’t have to mean the same old thing at lunch time. Here are a few fun ideas for healthy foods to pack in your child’s lunchbox—or in yours to bring to the office!

SALAD ON A STICK

Make a utensil-free antipasto salad by sliding its ingredients onto small skewers. Make a quick Caprese salad by tossing cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls, and basil leaves with olive oil, salt and pepper, then skewer the pieces and pack them in a sealed container. You can also make a Greek version using olives, tomatoes and feta cheese cubes.

BAKED CHIPS

Instead of packing store-bought chips, why not make and bag your own at home? With a mandolin slicer (or some excellent knife skills!), you can cut potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, or even apples into healthy chips that simply need to be seasoned and baked in the oven.

BITE-SIZE WRAPS

The standard lunch wrap is just more fun to eat when it’s cut into little pinwheels! Layer your wrap fillings as thinly as possible, roll it up, and evenly slice it. This works great with sliced deli meat and cheese, but you can also give peanut butter and jelly a makeover with these PB&J “Sushi” Rolls.

 

 

MINI MUFFINS

This is a great make-ahead food that you can simply pop in the freezer and use as needed. Bake a batch of your favorite healthy mini muffins (these apple cinnamon bran muffins from Kaboose sound delicious!) before the start of the week and freeze them. Take one or two out each day and stick them into your kids’ lunchboxes before they head out the door—the muffins will thaw by lunch time and your child will have a sweet treat to enjoy before heading back to class.

FRUIT & VEGGIE “BAGELS”

Foods like apples and bell peppers that can be sliced and cored make perfect mock bagels—well, at least visually! Just top with your favorite nut butter (for fruits) or sandwich spread (for veggies) and decorate with any toppings you like. For ideas, check out these apple “dough-nots” from Steph’s Bite by Bite.

 

 

 

 

HOMEMADE BARS

We’ve mentioned making your own granola bars several times here on HWTC, but it’s seriously worth the time and effort! Cut the extra sugar and preservatives and do it yourself: try out The Lean Green Bean’s healthy breakfast bars made with bean and oat flour, or these no-bake oat granola bars from Six Sisters’ Stuff.

BENTO BOXES

If you have some extra time in the morning, making a bento box is a great way to send your kids to school with a special lunch they’ll have fun eating. All you need is a segmented container and a little creativity. Best of all, you can put these lunch foods into your box!
(Image via: Aylanah via photo pin cc)

 

For more lunchbox ideas, visit:
Taste of Home
Kaboose
Spoonful

Feature image via Wendy Copley via photo pin cc

 

Do you have any ideas for packed lunches? Share them here!