Thinking beyond the sandwich

8 lunchbox-friendly ideas to fuel your student

Are your kids tired of sandwiches for lunch? Think outside the bread and liven things up a bit with these ideas. The bonus: Kids can help make these meals. Some are even great finger foods they can assemble at lunchtime. When kids feel in charge, they’re more likely to eat better.

Be sure to make appropriate serving sizes for the age of your child. For instance, the proper serving size for fruits and vegetables will fit in your child’s hand.

PB&J banana hot dog

Spread low-sodium/low-sugar peanut butter and whole fruit jelly onto a whole-wheat hot dog bun. Then insert a banana just like a hot dog. Instead of a banana, you can also try whole strawberries or apple slices dipped in pineapple juice (to prevent browning). Sides: Apple slices and provolone cheese

Whole-wheat pinwheels

Spread cream cheese (we used the chive and onion flavor) on a whole-wheat or multigrain tortilla. Place low-sodium lunch meat and some veggie strips on top. Roll, slice into pinwheels and enjoy.
Side: Sliced strawberries

Deli roll-ups

Roll up two or three slices of low-sodium deli chicken or turkey. Serve alongside cubed cheese and wheat crackers.
Sides: Cucumber slices with Greek yogurt ranch dip and red grapes

Almond butter and banana

Spread almond butter on extra-large wheat crackers and top each with a slice of banana.
Sides: Sliced strawberries and string cheese

Cream cheese and jellywich

Spread cream cheese on a reduced-sodium Triscuit cracker, top with a dab of jelly and add a second Triscuit.
Sides: Sliced pear (dip in pineapple juice to prevent browning) and carrot sticks

Parfait perfection

Layer your child’s favorite yogurt with granola, grapes and strawberries.
Sides: Wheat crackers and fresh cucumber slices

Rice bowl

Prepare whole-grain rice (or pasta) and add vegetables and protein, such as beans and chicken cubes, throughout the week. Try a variety of your child’s favorite vegetables, such as peas, green beans, corn, carrots and broccoli. Need a little flavor? Add a teaspoon of vinaigrette or Asian-style dressing.
Side: Orange slices

Hummus for dipping

Place hummus in a container (try a bento box) with sliced vegetables on the side. Great options are those you can find already packaged in the produce section of your grocery store. If you want to put your own together, think carrots, cucumber, celery, cauliflower and cherry tomatoes.
Sides: Whole-wheat pita slices and grapes

See more lunch recipes and learn ways you can make school lunch fun.

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