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School Lunch Ideas Kids Will Love (Beyond PB&J)

Waffle sandwiches, custom trail mix and creative recipes

Packing my child’s school lunch always feels like the movie Groundhog Day. Peanut butter sandwich? Check. Goldfish? Check. Capri Sun? Check. That’s what he wants to eat day in, day out. Anything else I put in there inevitably comes home uneaten, but I keep trying in hopes of broadening his palate. Whether you’re in the same boat or have a child who naturally wants something new and different, here are some ideas for what to pack in your kiddo’s lunchbox.

Disclaimer: While I do try to get my son to eat nutritious foods as much as possible, I’m not a dietitian—so I’m not suggesting these are the healthiest options or something you should send for school lunch all the time. These are just things that I think might interest kids and aren’t too time-consuming for moms!

One more note—make sure anything nut-related is OK to bring to lunch; nut allergies are no joke.

What’s in the Lunchbox

Waffle-Wich: If your kid is stuck on PB&J, what about replacing their regular bread with a waffle? Heat ’em up, let ’em cool, then slap on the fixings. (Little bagels or Hawaiian rolls are good for this, too, or even apples.)

The Upgraded Snack Pack: Lunchables are quick and easy, but so are the snack packs with premium cheeses, high-quality meats, and artisan crackers.

Whip Dip: If your child tends to not eat the fruit you pack, stick a tiny container of whipped cream in there for dipping. (And ranch for veggies!)

Pretzels and Peanut Butter: If they enjoy peanut butter but are tiring of sandwiches, try a baggie full of pretzel sticks and a small, individual cup of peanut butter.

Cereal Without the Milk: A baggie of Kix (or whatever cereal your kiddo digs) could replace chips. Same goes for popcorn. And add any of your kid’s other favorites for a custom trail mix.

Next-Day Chick-fil-A: Grab a box of nuggets the night before and send them to school. No reheating necessary. Don’t forget the sauce!

Doughnut Shop Stop: Those little sausage rolls you can buy at a doughnut shop could sub for a sandwich one day.

Creativity in the Kitchen

If you’re feeling slightly more ambitious and creative, I suggest:
Mini deep-dish pizzas (cold pizza is better than no pizza, am I right?)
Pizza lollipops
Shark quesadillas (no sharks will be harmed in the making of this recipe)
PB&J sushi (hey, if they’re going to insist on it, might as well make it a different shape)
• And as if you don’t have enough mom guilt, fine art sandwiches.

Happy school lunch packing!

RELATED: 10 Ways to Simplify Family Meal Planning

Image: iStock