Fun, Easy & Fast Lunch Ideas

Because I rise earlier than my wife, I have become the designated lunch packer for our daughter on the days when she is heading to school or camp. When she was younger and only attending preschool two days a week, or doing the occasional day camp, I found lots of options and was able to be more creative in my lunch packing. However now that she requires lunch almost every weekday, year-round, I certainly appreciate simplicity when it comes to lunch prep. It’s become even more difficult over the past few years because of peanut and seafood allergies in her classes and most camps tend to come with the “nut free snack” stipulation. Here are some easy and enjoyable lunch ideas that are fun, fairly nutritious—and best of all, fast and easy to pack.

1. Leftovers. Hopefully we have some pasta, stir fry or whatever dinner we’ve made the night before left, so I can simply reheat it in the morning and put it in a thermos. The food is still hot four hours later, so she can enjoy it. Don’t forget to include a fork—I won’t make that mistake twice!

2. Sandwich Fixins. I pack some bread, deli meat, cheese slices, cut up veggies and a small container of mayo or mustard. My daughter can then assemble her sandwich just the way she likes it. However, I think she often eats it all separately, instead of making it into a sandwich, but that’s perfectly fine.

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3. Kraft Dinner. Here’s where the thermos comes in handy again. I cook up a box of KD while I’m making my coffee and breakfast, then put it in the thermos while hot. It may not be the healthiest meal, but it is a quick and easy treat for those days we are overdue for a grocery run and don’t have much in the house.

4. Snack Box. I simply fill a lunchbox with a mix of my child’s favorite snacks—or whatever bits and pieces I can find. Think pretzels, cheese sticks, crackers, slices of meat, grapes and baby carrots. This is another great option when you’ve been too busy to hit the store—you can use up the last few things in your fridge.

5. Hummus and Veggie Sticks. I pack a container of hummus (occasionally our hummus is homemade, but usually it’s those little pre-packs you can find at Walmart or Costco) along with sliced bell peppers, cucumbers and carrots for dipping. I’m lucky that my daughter likes veggies, but you can always include crackers if your kids won’t eat them.

6. Hard Boiled Eggs. We try to make a bunch of hard-boiled eggs at the beginning of the week to keep in the fridge for easy and quick snacks or a grab and go breakfast. My daughter will eat the whole hard-boiled egg totally plain; however, you have the option of quickly slicing them and putting them on some veggies with a shake of salt and pepper. Or if you have a bit more time, mash them and mix them with mayo to make egg salad sandwiches.

7. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches. This classic is great for those days when peanuts are accepted where she is going. Of course, you can always use a different type of nut butter or even sunflower butter to make this quick and easy snack.

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