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The ABC’s of Back-to-School

August 1, 2022
7 min. read

Well, here we are…It’s officially August, which means that it will soon be time for kids to return to school. Back to school preparation often comes with lists upon lists. There are lists of school supplies your child will need (e.g., art supplies, binders, calculator, dictionary and encyclopedia, etc.) Then there’s the new class schedule (e.g., Algebra, Biology, Creative Writing, Drama, English, and so on), not to mention the teachers, assignments, and room numbers associated with each one.

As a parent or guardian, you have to memorize a lot of details when preparing to send your kids (both college age and younger) back to school. Let us at least take one thing off of your plate: meal planning. Consider this guide your cheat sheet to all things related to lunch prepping and packing.

Back to School Meal Prep: A to Z

A is for Apple

Turkey, Cheese, and Green Apple Sandwich

We all know “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” plus makes a great gift for a teacher, but it also deserves a place in your child’s lunchbox thanks to its nutritional benefits and general likability amongst our youngest eaters.

Featured: Turkey, Apple, Cheese Sandwich

B is for Bento Boxes

Tuna Salad Sandwich - Bento Box

Bento boxes are small, compartmentalized containers that make it very easy to organize the individual elements of your lunchbox and keep each ingredient separate. Find a few examples in this blog post!

Featured: Tuna Salad Sandwich & Watermelon-Cucumber Salad

C is for Chickpeas

Chickpeas (the primary ingredient in hummus), along with other beans and legumes, are considered somewhat of a superfood, with high amounts of fiber and protein along with numerous vitamins and minerals—plus they keep you full longer. (Tip: pack a small container of hummus in your lunchbox along with homemade toast crackers and veggies for dipping.)

Featured: Hummus with Bread Crackers and Fresh Veggies

D is for DIY

Ham & Cheese Pocket Sandwiches

Premade lunch kits and heat-and-serve snacks may be highly convenient when you’re strapped for time, but they often include excessive preservatives or high amounts of sodium and other unfavorable ingredients. By making your own “copycat” versions of these favorites, you gain more control over the nutritional value and quality of ingredients.

Featured: Ham & Cheese Pocket Sandwiches

E is for Eggs

Superfood Sandwich - Egg Salad on Wheat

Eggs are another superfood, being rich in essential nutrients including vitamins A, B, and D (and others), iron, and phosphorus, along with high-quality protein and healthy fats. This nutrient-dense food makes a great addition to any breakfast or lunch. Try incorporating it in an egg salad with a creative twist!

Featured: Superhero Egg Sandwich

F is for Fun

Cat and Mouse Lunchbox Art

Whether it’s a simple smiley face on your children’s lunch bags, or a pro-level food art masterpiece, adding a fun personal touch is always a welcome addition to show just how much you care.

Featured: Cat and Mouse Lunchbox Art

G is for Grab and Go

When you’re rushing out the door on the way to school, work, or sports practice, it can be easy to forgo snack or meal time, but with a few simple recipe ideas you’ll be ready to roll in no time (and without an empty stomach).

Featured: Easy Lunchbox Lunches

H is for Homework

Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

Even parents have homework on occasion—but don’t worry, we already did the research for you. Check out these expert meal prep tips to learn ways to make your lunch-packing routine more seamless and inspiring.

Featured: Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

I is for Imagination

Inspire creativity in young minds by taking a hands-on approach to recipes and allowing your child to “play with their food” every once in a while. Host a colorful food party with your kids and use tinted cream cheese spread or marshmallow fluff to create custom creations like “Unicorn Toast,” “Mermaid Toast,” “Galaxy Toast,” or your own special creation!

Featured: Fairytale Toasts

J is for Jelly/Jam

Don’t forget about the classic peanut butter and jelly—a childhood favorite! But in case you’re tired of making the same-old-same-old, check out these 15 PB&J variations to help mix things up a bit.

Featured: PB&J Sandwich Pockets

K is for Kid-Friendly

Find strategic ways to get your child involved in meal planning and preparation, whether by allowing them to choose between a variety of approved sides or sandwich ingredients, or by letting them prepare their own simple recipes using a few basic ingredients.

Featured: Owl Sandwich Art

L is for Lunchables

A surefire way to increase your child’s excitement at lunchtime is with homemade DIY lunchables like stackable sandwiches, mini pizzas, and personal sandwich pockets.

Featured: Ham Cheese Sandwich Stackers

M is for Make Ahead

Another great tip for busy adults is to find recipes that can be made ahead of time, like thaw-and-heat sandwiches, or prepared in bulk for a quick family meal amidst the weekday chaos.

Featured: Make-Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches

N is for Nut Butter

Superfood Sandwich - Peanut Butter and Berries

Peanut butter and alternatives like almond butter and sunflower butter are rich sources of vitamins and minerals, protein, fiber, and healthy fats. And even better—most kids love the taste! (Note: if packing in your child’s lunch, be sure to follow any school policies regarding allergens like peanuts and tree nuts.)

Featured: Nut Butter & Berries Sandwich

O is for Outside-the-Box

Ladybug BLT

Don’t be afraid to get creative! Find new ways to bring a smile to your child’s face by mixing up the ingredients from time to time or changing the format of classic favorite.

Featured: Open-Faced Ladybug BLT

P is for Protein

Pack snacks that include protein-filled ingredients to help power your kids through the second half of the day. Look for ingredients such as lean meats, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy, legumes, eggs, and grains. (Tips: These Peanut Butter Pockets make a wonderful grab-and-go snack for a quick energy boost!)

Featured: Peanut Butter Pockets

Q is for Quick & Easy

If you often find yourself short on time in the morning or struggling to pack yourself a wholesome lunch, learn to incorporate easy meals for work like 5-minute breakfast recipes, simple salads, and heat-and-serve sandwiches.

Featured: 5-Minute Egg Sandwich

R is for Rainbow

Make lunchtime memorable by integrating spontaneous bursts of color and creative new recipes to keep your child looking forward to their midday meal. (Tip: we suggest incorporating primarily natural sources of color—see letter ‘V’ below for some ideas.)

Featured: Colorful Grilled Cheese

S is for Star

Shooting Star Sandwiches

Award your child a gold star—literally! These mini sandwiches are equally fun and delicious, and will give your son or daughter the added boost they need to “shoot for the stars.”

Featured: Shooting Star Sandwiches

T is for Tips & Tricks

We can all use some extra help now and then. Check out these lunchbox hacks to help solve pesky lunchtime problems like soggy sandwiches, crushed chips, and more.

Pictured: PB & Fluff Sandwich

U is for Umbrella

Rainy Day PB&J

Under the weather? Cheer up your child’s day with an artful lunch themed around the weather, upcoming holidays, or other topics such as their daily vocabulary word or math equation!

Featured: Rainy Day PB&J

V is for Veggies

Vegetable Sandwich with Dill Sauce

Pack plenty of vegetables in your child’s lunchbox—the more colors the better. These superfoods provide various vitamins and other essential nutrients that do the body good.

Featured: Vegetable Sandwich with Dill Sauce

W is for Whole Wheat

Almond Butter French Toast

Keep in mind that bread can be a healthy part of a balanced diet and there are many ways to build nutritious sandwiches for your kids to enjoy. Choose whole grain or enriched breads (like Martin’s) and begin to build smarter sandwiches.

Featured: Almond Butter Stuffed French Toast

X is for X-Ray

Examine the ingredients you tend to pack in your child’s lunch and be sure to include healthful, nutrient-dense foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, high-quality protein, healthy fats, and whole grains.

Featured: Turkey, Strawberry, & Avocado Sandwich

Y is for Yesterday

Last night’s leftovers can make an easy and convenient fix for the next day’s lunch. Consider repurposing dishes such as pasta, taco meat, grilled chicken, or even mac and cheese into lunch-worthy meals.

Featured: Ham Mac and Cheese Muffins

Z is for Zero Effort

Classic BLT

We certainly don’t recommend this solution in regard to your child’s school performance…But low effort or zero-prep meals can be great for busy parents trying to pack healthy and nutritious foods in their child’s lunchbox. Don’t forget about the simple two- or three-ingredient sandwiches—they’re tried and true for a reason and easily customizable.

Featured: Classic BLT


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