Back-to-School: 7 Recipes for Filling Your Kids’ Lunch Boxes
Looking for a few ideas before you pack up that brown bag or fill your child’s Bento boxes? Then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve found 7 recipes that you can adapt to your family’s needs for fun lunches this school year. The snacks and wraps are so good, you might even make it for yourself! Keep reading to see what you’ll be packing this year.
1. The New PB&J
A new year calls for a new take on peanut butter and jelly. This recipe from Country Living puts plenty of apple flavor into your kid’s lunch box. You can skip the bacon — especially if you’re pressed for time — to create a vegetarian lunch wrap.
- ¼ cup peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons apple butter
- 4 (10-inch) sandwich wraps, such as flour tortillas or lavash
- 2 tablespoons apple jelly
- 1 apple, cored, halved, and cut into thin slices
- 8 slice crisp, cooked bacon (optional)
Directions: To assemble the sandwiches, in a small bowl, use a spoon to mix the peanut butter and apple butter together. On a clean work surface, lay the wraps and divide the peanut-butter mixture among them, spreading it equally on ½ of each wrap. Spread the apple jelly evenly on the other half of each.
Place 4 or 5 slices of apple on the peanut-butter mixture and 2 strips of bacon, if using, on top of the apples. Fold the tortillas into wrap sandwiches.
2. Hummus and Vegetable Stuffed Pitas
For another spin on the usual sandwich offering, try filling a pita instead of sandwiching fillings between two slices of bread. Whole Foods offers this basic template for filling a whole wheat pita with hummus and vegetables for a quick, healthy lunch to pack.
- 1 whole wheat pita bread, halved
- ½ cup hummus
- ⅓ cup lightly packed shredded lettuce or baby spinach
- ½ cup assorted raw vegetables such as halved cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers or avocados
Directions: Spread half of the hummus inside each pita half then fill with lettuce and vegetables and serve.
3. Pizza Wraps
Pizza becomes packable in this recipe from Eating Well. It will create a basic “cheese pizza,” but you can add your child’s favorite toppings to the tortilla before rolling the wrap up. The recipe below yields 1 wrap, adjust as needed.
- 1 (8-inch) whole-wheat flour tortilla
- 2 tablespoons prepared pizza sauce
- 12 leaves baby spinach
- 3 tablespoons shredded part-skim mozzarella
Directions: Place tortilla on a plate and spread pizza sauce over it. Top with an even layer of spinach and sprinkle cheese on top. Microwave on High until the cheese is just melted, about 45 seconds. Carefully roll the tortilla up. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing into pieces, if desired.
4. Rainbows and Butterflies Pasta Salad
If you’re lucky enough to have pint-sized healthy eaters on your hands, try Ellie Krieger’s colorful pasta salad from Food Network. The bright shapes and shades might even convert skeptical kids into trying this lunch. It yields 4 servings.
- 8 ounces bow tie pasta, preferably whole grain
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup corn kernels, thawed if frozen
- 1 cup shelled edamame, thawed if frozen
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 2 medium carrots, shredded (about ½ cup)
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
Directions: Cook the pasta as the label directs. Drain and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil to prevent sticking; let cool.
In a large bowl, toss the cooled pasta with the corn, edamame, bell pepper, and carrots. Drizzle with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and toss to coat. Add the parmesan and ¼ teaspoon salt; toss again and season to taste.
5. Tortilla Chips
Replace the packaged, single-serve chips you always pack with Martha Stewart‘s semi-homemade tortilla chips. You can make them cheesy, with lemon and herbs, or coated with sweet cinnamon sugar topping, as listed below. The cinnamon sugar variety would pair wonderfully with a fruit salsa.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 12 flour tortillas (10 inches in diameter)
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir together butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush tortillas with butter mixture, and cut each into 8 wedges. Arrange wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Let chips cool on a wire rack before serving.
6. No-Bake Energy Bites
Boost your kid’s energy levels with the no-bake oatmeal bites from Momables. The recipe lets you slip in flaxseed, which adds healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber to this lunchbox snack. It yields 18 to 20 bites.
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup coconut flakes
- ½ cup ground flaxseed
- ½ cup mini chocolate chips
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
- ⅓ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Directions: In a medium bowl, add oatmeal, coconut flakes, flax seed, mini chocolate chips, and raisins. In a small bowl, whisk peanut butter, honey, and vanilla. Pour wet mix into dry bowl until thoroughly incorporated. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls and enjoy! Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Not every element of the lunch box has to be healthy, and for a sweet treat, make the snickerdoodles from AllRecipes.com. It yields 4 dozen soft, chewy cookies — enough for you to pack in your lunch!
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ½ cup shortening
- 1½ cups white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cream together butter, shortening, 1½ cups sugar, the eggs, and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda, and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.