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A+ Back-to-School Lunch Ideas

Slices of bread with jam and peanut butter, a whole banana
Back-to-school season can be tricky, so we’re here to make it a little easier for you. When it comes to packing lunches, we have the tips you need to bring your A-game.

Quick Tips for Busy Families

We know that back-to-school schedules can be busy and keeping tabs on back-to-school organization can be tricky — especially when it comes to the age-old question, “What am I going to pack for lunch?” So we’re here to make it all a little easier.

Whether you have a picky eater who only likes plain-tasting foods, or are just plain out of ideas, we got you covered. Take a deep breath, take a look at our quick packing tips and “outside of the lunch box” recipe ideas, then take a moment to give yourself a well-deserved pat on the pack. Armed with the tips in this article, you’re already one step ahead of the back-to-school game. You got this, parents!


Nothing is more frustrating than seeing the lunch box you packed come back, mostly uneaten. One way to avoid this pitfall is to pack smaller servings. Try 3 or 4 small servings of different foods, such as a sandwich cut in half or fun, snackable portions of fruit, like these Apple Snack Stacks. These Ham and Cheese Tortilla Wraps are easy to prep, cut into snack-size portions and store, or you could try a fun, app-based approach with these Salami, Cheese and Pickle Kabobs.

Full of Fun

Looking for fun lunch box ideas that don’t take a ton of extra effort? Keep things interesting yet easy by considering color and texture when packing lunch. For example, pair creamy yogurt with a crisp apple. You can also get creative with how you pack each meal — stickers, colored plastic wrap and fun napkins can be an easy lunchtime game-changer. If you’re feeling super creative, try your hand at this Fruit Fish recipe or keep the summer vibes going strong with 3 Fun-in-the-Sun Lunch Ideas. Or, surprise them with something unexpected and delicious.

Powered by Protein

If you're looking to keep your kids up and running throughout the whole day, add meat, cheese, yogurt or peanut butter to every lunch. This Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip is a two-for-one solution! Here are some other protein-powered ideas:

Additional Pro Tips

  • Picky eaters? Make lunch planning an activity and have your kids participate in the packing. This way, you can help them make good choices.
  • Keep convenient foods at the ready. A stash of single-serving fruit cups, puddings, vegetable dips, etc., can be a lifesaver when the day gets away from you.
  • Don’t forget about dinner leftovers! Instead, see what can be repurposed for a wildly delicious lunch.
  • An insulated lunchbox and a small thermos are great ways to keep cool foods cold and hot foods hot!
  • Freeze foods, such as noncarbonated drinks, sandwich bread and Go-Gurt™ yogurt before packing. They’ll thaw by lunchtime, all while keeping the rest of the food cool.

Four Foods for Every Lunch Box

Contrary to popular belief, packing a healthy back-to-school lunch doesn’t have to be hard! Keep this chart on hand to make sure you’re providing your kids with vitamin and energy-rich foods, plus the occasional dessert for a well-deserved slice of happiness.

Grains Calcium-Rich Protein Fruits & Veggies
Bread or bagel Yogurt dips for fruit Dairy (cottage cheese, yogurt, etc.) Berries, melon, pineapple
Tortillas or pita pockets Dill Yogurt dip for veggies Turkey, ham, roast beef or chicken Carrots, sweet peppers, jicama
Crackers or pretzels Cheese Nuts or peanut butter Apple wedges (dip in OJ to keep fresh)
Biscuit or muffin Snack-size pudding or yogurt Salads (turkey, ham, chicken, tuna) Cherry tomatoes or sweet pea pods
Pasta Milk or calcium-fortified juices Egg Dried fruit (apricots, apples, etc.)