Beat the Lunchbox Blues - 101 Tasty Tips!

It's Back-to-School time! Did you know that kids who pack a lunch from home will eat about 2,400 of them during their school years? Although good ol' peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are actually a nutritious lunch choice, many kids tire of the same thing day after day. For a fresh start to the school year, here are 101 great easy-to-make ideas to liven up those lunchboxes and keep the kids energized for afternoon classes and sports practices.

Crazy Sandwich Combos
graham cracker & peanut butter sandwich
bagel & Cream Cheese with apple or pear slices
banana bread spread with PB
chive-flavored cream cheese, drained & shredded cheddar pineapple-flavored cream cheese, ham, & raisins
cream cheese & strawberry jam
honey & peanut butter spread
peanut butter, mashed banana & crumbled bacon
cream cheese & apple butter on whole grain bread
egg salad sandwich with grated veggies
peanut butter with a few chocolate chips instead of jelly

Daily Dairy
freeze a cup of yogurt for a cool treat at lunchtime
bread sticks or pretzels with low-fat cheese spread dip
cheese cubes, triangles, circles, sticks, strings,....
cottage cheese & pineapple - make it wacky with a drop of food coloring
spreadable goat cheese as sandwich filling or a pretzel dip
puree yogurt, honey & fruit as dip
yogurt with grapenut or wheat germ "sprinkles"
Fruit & Vegi Fun
cucumber "coins"
apple volcano: fill a cored apple with PB, then sprinkle on grapenuts
applesauce dip surprise (add red hots, sprinkles,…)
baby carrots with snap peas
carrots & celery with salad dressing dip
roll raw veggies in chili powder, lime juice & salt
chunks of fresh coconut meat
frozen grapes (only for big kids bc of choke factor)
lettuce in a bowl with a baggie of fav toppings & another of caesar salad dressing
mashed avacado dip
mix 2 parts PB with 1 part honey as dip for baby carrots & celery sticks
rice cake spread with PB and decorated with sunflower seeds and orange slices makes a pretty flower
cold potato salad with chopped celery or relish for crunch
slice a star fruit (carambola)
cherry tomatoes
fruit kabobs on celery "skewers"
melon cubes
red or green pepper sliced into rings
write "I love you!" on a banana in marker
zucchini sticks
dried fruit mix of craisins, apricots, cherries,...

Satisfying Snacks
apple slices with peanut butter dip
hard-cooked egg with a drawn on "face"
cold pancakes with yogurt & slices of fruit in a separate container for toppings
cut cold cuts/cheese with cookie cutters, add crackers
send a bag of a favorite dry cereal
banana bread spread with peanut butter & a little honey
freeze a juice box for a lunchtime slurpee
chips with salsa or mashed beans for dip & grated cheese
cornbread muffins with berries baked in ever popular jello with fruit topped by whipped cream
oatmeal - craisin, applesauce, raisin, nut cookies
zest up lunch with a pickle- dills, butter, sweet, olives,...
popcorn or rice cakes add crunch
ants on a log with PB or cream cheese & raisins
pudding cup with fruit or crunchy granola "sprinkles"
silly shape pasta salad (trees, footballs, ...)

The Successful Sandwich
peanut butter on cracker hors d'oeuvers
chicken or tuna salad on crackers (pack a spoon)
cold pizza!
use your cookie cutters (star, heart, etc.) to cut out sandwiches
crackers or dinner rolls for bread
flavored hummus as a seasoning or the main filling
lunchmeat & cheese rolled around a dill pickle spear
mini-bagel or English muffin sandwiches
open face PB sandwich with a sliced vegi "picture"
pita pockets stuffed with anything
add leftover grilled veggies to sandwich
press a sandwich flat, roll it up, & pin with a toothpick
no sandwich - serve soup kept warm in a thermos with crackers
skip the mayo & use salad dressing
rice cake packed along with a favorite spread like tuna salad
slip in cucumber, grated zucchini, pepper strips, ...
sundried tomato or spinach-flavored tortilla wraps
tortilla: roll it up with your favorite fillings tortilla coins (slice a roll-up into circles) pita or bagel toasts with a salad spread like tuna, egg, chicken,..
add bean or broccoli sprouts for extra vitamins & crunch
pack string cheese & ham sticks with a honey mustard sauce for dipping
frozen waffles instead of bread

Lunchbox Packing Tips
try out a wild new treat as an afternoon snack first to see how the kids like it
invest in small ice packs for the lunchbox
include a kids activity page from a book or online
pre moistened baby wipes make clean-up easier
pack snacks, treats and even some sandwiches on the weekend so the kids can just grab them on their way to the school bus
fun-meal brown bag: Use rubber stamps to make scrambled words & riddles
be sure to peel fruits that need it, and cut them into finger-size pieces for younger children
write a special note on their napkin, send a comic strip, or even a page from a joke-a-day calendar (buy them in Feb on clearance-it doesn't matter what the date is)
buy lots of small plastic tubs for dipping sauces & home-made snacks

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