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7 School Lunch Ideas That Are Nutritious, Fun and Affordable

Does your back-to-school routine include packing a nutritious lunch for the kids every day? Mix things up with these suggestions that might help you save time and money!

Overhead view of a opened backpack with school supplies as well as an opened lunch container with a half sandwich and veggies with a small water bottle.

1. Unique Sandwiches

Select your child's favorite bread, and create a delicious sandwich using meat, cheese, vegetables, fruit, and other toppings. Try a filling made from smashed and seasoned chickpeas. Customize chicken salad with pecans, walnuts, or apples. Consider using a cookie cutter to create crazy shaped sandwiches or pack the sandwich filling into a pita pocket.

2. Quesadillas

Start with a whole grain tortilla and top it with chicken, steak, cheese, or vegetables. Warm the quesadilla in the microwave before school, and wrap it in aluminum foil where it will stay toasty until lunchtime. Add a small container of sour cream, salsa or guacamole to their lunch box, too.

3. Kabobs

On a dull-tipped wooden skewer, arrange bite-sized pieces of meat, cheese, vegetables, and fruit. This school lunch idea is easy to customize, and you can use leftovers like grilled chicken or marinated mozzarella.

4. Nachos

Pack tortilla chips in a bag along with containers of taco meat, beans, cheese, salsa, sour cream, or guacamole. Your kids can customize their nachos based on their taste preferences that day.

5. Muffins

An easy finger food, muffins are also filling. Pack savory mac and cheese muffins or sweet oatmeal, banana and chia muffins. Other ideas include ham with cheese and spinach, hot dogs and cornbread, or eggs and bacon.

6. Salads

Pack a great salad as part of your child's nutritious and filling lunch. A Southwestern quinoa salad is one idea that tastes delicious served cold or hot, and it's easy to customize with beans, corn, spices, and cheese. Pack a Mason jar with layers of lettuce, vegetables, eggs, meat, cheese, and dressing. Consider pasta salad, too, with chicken, bacon, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fun-shaped noodles.

7. Bento Boxes

Don't forget the lunch container can be the fun part. In a divided container, pack a variety of fun and tasty ingredients. Examples include chicken wings, hard-boiled eggs, rolled-up sandwiches, or muffins. Then add vegetables or fruit and dip. Finish up the box with string cheese, crackers or trail mix. Don't forget a drink and napkin!

Making school lunch is much easier thanks to these 10 ideas. And like you can choose your insurance coverage options, you can customize all of these school lunch suggestions based on your child's preferences or the food you have on hand. The key is to have fun as you create nutritious, affordable and fun lunches that nourish your kids at school.

Family in the kitchen.

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