Switch up the school lunch

Published 8:58 pm Tuesday, September 4, 2012

By Dana Zeliff

Kids throughout Hampton Roads boarded the big yellow bus and headed back to school this week leaving lazy summer days behind. The new school year can leave kids feeling anxious and excited all at the same time. Give them the energy to make it through the day by packing a fun, nutritious lunch.

Bringing a lunch from home not only allows for more variety and parental control — it’s also a great way to save money. Buying a daily lunch at school can get expensive. Additionally, waiting in a long lunch line can cut into the time children have to eat and rejuvenate their bodies before afternoon lessons begin.

Email newsletter signup

The first task a parent faces is picking a lunch box that your child will actually use. You can also “go green” by purchasing containers, such as a cool bento box, to send sandwiches, snacks and drinks.

I suggest getting creative with lunch by using cookie cutters for sandwiches or fruit, serving melon balls instead of squares, displaying the meal in shapes or going DIY by allowing kids to assemble their own meal such as mini pizzas or a cobb salad.

As you can see, lunch doesn’t need to be in a traditional brown bag with PB&J. Switch things up with wraps, pitas, soups and roll-ups to keep kids excited. Below are a few school lunch ideas:

  • Tuna wrap with grapes, chocolate chip cookie and snack mix such as pretzels and goldfish. Send along a reusable bottle with water for the drink.
  • Cheese cubes and crackers served with celery covered in peanut butter and topped with raisins. Include a Rice Krispies treat and 100-percent fruit juice.
  • Cereal (put dry cereal in a small container and provide milk money). Add a yogurt cup and chocolate chip cookie with a water bottle.
  • Ham and cheese roll-up, baked chips, carrot sticks with dip and water.

Packing a fun, nutritious lunch doesn’t have to take hours or cost a fortune. Get creative, pack a variety of foods and send the occasional “Have a Good Day” note to make lunch a bit more special.


Dana Zeliff lives in Chesapeake and writes a blog full of money-saving tips, coupons and advice. Visit her blog at www.thecouponchallenge.com.