Fresh Ideas for School Lunches that are Delicious, Nutritious, and Cheap

Tired of the same peanut butter and jelly sandwich or bags of chips and cookies? Try some of these recipes for quick and easy school lunches.

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We are over one hundred days into the school year, and now is the time when many kids start to become bored with their typical school lunch options.  Instead of making more peanut butter and jelly or ham and cheese sandwiches, try switching up your ingredients.  Instead of using the same sandwich bread, try making their sandwich on a wrap or bagel, or even in a pita.  Also, don't be afraid to use leftovers from last night's dinner.  Slicing up last night's chicken or steak can be a great new addition to a sandwich or a wrap. Don't forget the vegetables for your growing kids - load up on baby carrots or carrot sticks or baby tomatoes as finger foods that are easy for snacking.  Here are some recipes to spice up your kids' lunches for the rest of the year:

Corn and Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini provides a serving of vegetables and makes these fritters extra moist.  For this unusual treat, tell your kids it is like having pancakes for lunch!


  • Whole wheat pancake batter, prepared with ½ the amount of liquid
  • 1 cup thawed frozen corn
  • 1 small zucchini, grated
  • 1 sliced scallion
  • Parmesan cheese

Take your prepared whole wheat pancake batter (with half the amount of liquid) and stir in corn, grated zucchini, sliced scallion, and a handful of parmesan cheese. Add a bit of water or milk if the batter is too stiff.  Cook in a pan for 2-3 minutes per side, then cool and pack in lunch bag. Pack with Greek yogurt for dipping.

Turkey Wraps
Instead of the boring turkey sandwich, try it as a wrap and throw in some tasty surprises, such as.  Wraps are also a great place to throw in leftovers, such as slices of chicken from the night before.  If you are out of meat, get your kid the protein they need with a peanut butter and banana wrap instead.


  • whole wheat wrap
  • sliced turkey breast
  • romaine lettuce
  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers

Slice tomatoes and cucumbers, then put desired amount of sliced turkey breast, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers on the wrap.  Secure with a toothpick, and pack in a Tupperware or foil for lunch.

Ham and Cheese Pitas
Put a new twist on the boring sandwich by putting your kid’s sandwich in a cute, kid-friendly pita.  To get more vegetables in their diet, add sliced tomato and cucumber.


  • 2 pitas
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 8 slices thinly cut ham
  • 1/2 cup Jarlsberg light cheese

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Slice each pita in half, and place cut side up on a large cookie sheet.  Spread mustard on each pita half, and top each piece with two slices of ham and cheese.  Bake for five minutes or until cheese melts and the pita is toasted.  Cut each pita again in half, let cool, and pack for lunch.

Frozen Fruit Cups

As the weather warms up, these will become prized snacks.  Instead of buying sugary fruit cups, make this special treat the night before with their favorite fruits.


  • 16 ounces frozen sweetened strawberries, thawed
  • 12 ounces pineapple-orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 2 (20 ounce) cans crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 2 (11 ounce) cans mandarin oranges, undrained
  • 6 bananas, diced
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 16 ounces frozen blueberries

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Freeze in small, one-cup containers.  Thaw slightly before serving, or pull out of the freezer the morning of school and pack in a lunchbag.

Hummus Snacks
Get your kids to be healthy by packing fun and nutritious hummus with your choice of vegetable or healthy chips. If your kid is adventurous, add some minced garlic to the hummus for some extra flavor.


  • Hummus
  • Carrot sticks or baby carrots
  • Celery sticks
  • Pita strips or whole grain chips

Put hummus in a Tupperware with an ice pack to keep it cool.  Put vegetables in a Tupperware or bag, and dry chips or pita strips in a separate bag.