With back-to-school season just around the corner, it’s time for many of us to start thinking about school lunches again. Today I’ve pulled together an awesome resource that includes a few of my kids’ favorite easy lunch ideas (beyond sandwiches), as well as a simple recipe for wholesome Applesauce Pumpkin Muffins. The sweet little wholegrain treats are full of nutritious, organic ingredients for a perfect prep-ahead breakfast, an easy addition to lunch boxes, or a delicious fall snack!
My goal in sharing these pumpkin muffins (and other easy lunch ideas) is to offer moms like me a manageable solution to the daily chore of packing meals and feeding our kids. I feel strongly about offering my boys nutritious options that fuel their growing bodies, but I also know that the food better taste good! These simple lunches are both kid-approved and mom-approved…so that we’re all happy! Any parent with little ones knows that one-stop shopping is the key to time management and mental sanity! That’s why I was careful to make sure that everything I show you in this post (from the ingredients to the snacks and packing supplies) can be purchased in one quick stop at Target. You can even grab your school supplies and back-to-school clothes while you’re there!
Target conveniently offers Horizon’s organic milks and cheeses in the refrigerated section, as well as Horizon’s organic snack options in the packaged groceries aisle.
This Santa Cruz organic applesauce is another great Target find, which is a major multi-tasker when it comes to easy lunch ideas. I use the individual cups of applesauce for lunch boxes or afternoon snacks, and I can also include it as a natural sweetener in my Applesauce Pumpkin Muffins.
The Horizon and Santa Cruz products are organic, which means that they do not use any antibiotics, growth hormones, or persistent pesticides, and they’re also Non GMO. Keeping these ingredients in my kitchen helps me pull together quick, nutritious packed lunches for my boys!
A quick note: many of you have asked about the plastic divided boxes that you regularly see in my photos. They are an affordable option that I buy in the storage container section at Target, and they can be inserted into insulated lunch boxes with an ice pack to stay fresh at school. I’ve tried many different (and more expensive) options, but these are our favorites.
With that, let’s get right to it! Here are a few of our favorite easy lunch ideas to try when your kids are tired of the same old sandwich…
Pizza Lunch Kit: Definitely Casey’s lunchtime preference, he eats this multiple days per week. I use a whole wheat sandwich thin or small whole wheat pita, and package it with a small container of tomato basil pasta sauce and a small container of Horizon organic shredded mozzarella cheese. It’s a make-your-own pizza (minus the baking)!
The disposable condiment containers for the sauce and cheese come with tight-fitting lids to avoid spills (and they’re also a Target purchase). I pair the pizza with a handful of Snapea Crisps and a container of Santa Cruz organic applesauce. Don’t forget the spoon!
Ham and Cheese Kit: Even before he started eating big sandwiches, Gibbs has always loved “roll-ups.” I literally just roll up individual pieces of lunch meat and pair it with other satisfying options. These are great toddler snack ideas, too! In this lunch kit I included the boys’ favorite Horizon organic mozzarella string cheese, carrots, raisins, and a couple of my Applesauce Pumpkin Muffins (recipe is at the bottom of the post).
Yogurt Parfait Kit: This is Spencer’s top choice! He is officially obsessed with Horizon’s organic peanut butter sandwich crackers, which I pair with Greek yogurt, berries, and the best Simply Balanced Organic Vanilla Bean Granola from Target. He can sprinkle the granola on the yogurt and stir in the berries all by himself!
Since I always have to pack morning snacks for my boys as well, I take advantage of quick no-prep options like Horizon organic Good & Go! Snack Combos (the cheddar cheese and pretzel pack is Gibbs’s favorite); Horizon organic milk boxes; Santa Cruz organic applesauce; and Horizon organic sandwich crackers.
Of course, these pumpkin muffins are also a great grab-and-go snack option! In less than 20 minutes I can pull a warm batch of mini muffins out of the oven and stash them in my freezer for easy breakfasts, snacks, or lunch box treats.
They’re so versatile and they disappear FAST! Moms — you just might find yourself popping a few of these little bites in the afternoon with a cup of tea, too!
Since many baked goods can be loaded with processed ingredients and tons of sugar, I did my best to create pumpkin muffins with wholesome ingredients that I can feel good about feeding my boys. Again, you can grab everything that you need at Target, including the Horizon organic milk, the Santa Cruz organic applesauce, and the Simply Balanced organic pumpkin puree.
The muffins turn out moist, tender, and full of fall flavor. In my mind, they are an ideal solution when the kids want a sweet treat, but I want them to have something more satisfying than a packaged dessert!
Perhaps best of all, these pumpkin muffins can be prepared in advance and tossed into your kids’ backpacks as they run out the door. Just like my other easy lunch ideas, they are simple, realistic options for parents’ with busy schedules (isn’t that all of us)?!
If you’d like to stock your own kitchen for back-to-school season, be sure to take advantage of Target’s cartwheel offer and save 20% on select Horizon and Santa Cruz products between August 8 and August 26!
Applesauce Pumpkin Muffins
Yield 36 mini muffins
These sweet little wholegrain treats are full of nutritious, organic ingredients and they make a perfect prep-ahead breakfast, an easy addition to lunch boxes, or a delicious fall snack!
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons Santa Cruz organic applesauce
¾ cup canned pumpkin puree
½ cup Horizon organic milk (I used 2%)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a mini muffin tin really well with cooking spray or line with paper cups (and spray the paper cups to be safe) and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients (whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice).
In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients (maple syrup, applesauce, egg, pumpkin puree, milk, and vanilla extract).
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently fold together with a wooden spoon, just until moistened. Be careful not to over-mix the batter or the muffins will be tough.
Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups.
Bake muffins until puffed and golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Be careful not to over-bake the muffins or they will dry out.
Remove muffins from oven and allow to cool in the muffin tin for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack.
Want to Prep Ahead? Once cooled completely, the muffins can be wrapped in an airtight container and frozen for up to 3 months. When you're ready to enjoy a muffin, just remove it from the freezer and pack it in your child's lunch box (still frozen); allow it to thaw on the counter overnight; or microwave for a few seconds.
Serving Size 1 mini muffin
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 0.3 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 5.4 mg
Sodium 59 mg
Total Carbohydrates 5 g
Dietary Fiber 0.4 g
Sugars 2 g
Protein 0.8 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Horizon and Santa Cruz. The opinions and text are all mine.