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The daily ritual of packing a school lunch can quickly become as boring as a brown paper sack. You want your child to have a nutritious and satisfying lunch, and peanut butter on white bread five days a week just won't cut it. Trying to figure out what to make for lunch in addition to helping with homework, finding lost shoes and carpooling can get overwhelming, so here are a few creative sack lunch ideas to get you started.  

Brown Bag Lunch Recipes

The best way to keep school lunches healthy and fun is variety. Mix up your menus and keep your kids guessing. Some kids are attached to a favorite meal, and while it's fine to let them eat what they like, introducing them to new foods while packing a school lunch will broaden their palate and teach them healthy habits for life.  

Kids have a natural tendency to graze, so capitalize on that by packing a school lunch with small servings of several different things. A variety of foods will be more appealing to a child than a large sandwich and a banana. It will amp up the fun contained in that little brown sack, as well as add to the variety of nutrients your student is getting.  

Creative Ideas for Packing a School Lunch

1. Bagels

Try a few small bagels smeared with different flavors of cream cheese spread, or use a bagel instead of bread for a chewy and delicious sandwich

2. Waffles

How about spreading the PB and J on leftover waffles just for fun?   

3. Pitas

Pitas are fun to fill with veggies, cheese and lunch meat. Try sneaking in some hummus. Your kids might dig it!

4. Wrap

Tortilla wraps are so easy and popular. Fill a tortilla with anything from cheese to spinach to guacamole and tightly roll it in plastic wrap for a sure kid-pleaser.

5. Crackers and cheese

The commercial packaged lunches that kids seem to love are easily replicated with some whole grain crackers and a variety of cheeses. Don’t forget to send some fruit and veggies, as well!    

6. Hard-boiled eggs

A great source of protein to round out any lunch, plus they're so simple to prepare and store. 

7. Cold Salads

Swap out the sandwiches occasionally for a pasta salad with chunks of tuna or a southwestern salad with lettuce, beans, tomatoes and tortilla chips.

As you experiment, don’t forget to consider food safety.  You may want to avoid packing foods that are susceptible to food borne illnesses if they’re not kept refrigerated, for example, potato salad, tuna salad or cold cuts.  If you do pack these items, there are lots of creative ways to keep them cold.  Try freezing a juice box and tucking it inside the sack lunch.  It will keep everything cool and be thawed enough to drink by the time the lunch bell rings. There are also a variety of insulated lunch sacks on the market that are cute and functional, or look for a lunch box that comes complete with a little ice pack to keep everything fresh and safe.   

Finally, throw in something fun on occasion to keep your child interested. A sticker, a small treat or a love note can really brighten a child's day and remind him that there's more to lunch than PBJ.

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