With Back To School season almost upon us, it’s time to start thinking about and planning for those hectic weekdays that are jam-packed with homework, after school activities, and numerous other commitments. I’ve rounded up an entire week’s worth of Fast and Fresh Lunch Box Ideas to take the guesswork out of your shopping and packing routine. Best of all, these options are all 100% kid-approved!
When I set out to write a post about school lunches, I knew that I wanted it to be practical and useful for other moms. After all, we’ve all seen those Instagram photos of perfect school lunches shaped into whimsical designs and plated as though they were created by a 5-star restaurant. While those images may be fun to look at, they don’t exactly mesh with my reality.
In order to keep this particular list as manageable and helpful as possible, I decided that I would just take you shopping with me…bring you into my kitchen…and show you exactly what my 3 boys really eat. Because in the end, I’m just like you — I want to feed my kids balanced and nutritious meals, I can always use some new ideas to mix up the same old turkey sandwich, and I don’t exactly have loads of time on my hands to craft culinary masterpieces. So without further ado, off we go to Kroger’s Natural Foods Department to stock up on a few staples that will make fast and fresh lunches EASY for my family!
The key to quick and wholesome lunch prep is a properly prepared kitchen. That’s why I love shopping here — I can grab all of my family’s favorites in one quick stop. From bulk bins with affordable nuts and whole grains, to aisles of snacks and cereals,
and even an extensive refrigerated case of organic dairy and non-dairy options, it’s all here! The Natural Foods Department is like its own little gourmet market. I love that I can easily find my favorite brands in one spot, making my grocery shopping more affordable and more efficient.
And once I have my groceries back home and a kitchen full of nutritious ingredients, it’s just a matter of pulling together a good mix of whole grains, protein, healthy fats, fruits, and veggies for a well-balanced meal. Here are a few of our go-to options that I hope your kids will love too!
MONDAY: Make-Your-Own Pizza Kits. By far, this is my boys’ #1 lunch pick. I give them a couple of small whole wheat pitas, some marinara sauce (this is homemade, but a jar of your favorite brand would also work well), and some Horizon Organic Shredded Mozzarella Cheese. They spread the sauce with a spoon, sprinkle with cheese, and devour! A banana or other piece of fruit rounds out the meal nicely.
I love that Horizon’s shredded cheese and milk boxes are organic sources of protein that travel well in the lunch box!
TUESDAY: Macaroni and Cheese + Raisins + Veggies and Hummus. If your kids are tired of sandwiches, this is another great option. A good quality thermos can keep pasta warm until lunchtime, so there’s no need to exclusively rely on cold foods.
I appreciate the convenience of the individual microwaveable Horizon Macaroni and Cheese, which is ideal for the morning rush when I haven’t planned ahead or made anything in advance. I can place the piping hot pasta directly from the microwave into the thermos so that it’s still warm when the kids are ready to eat.
This is also a great way to give the children leftovers from dinner the night before. Just reheat something like spaghetti or their favorite chicken casserole in the morning, stick it in the thermos, and pack it for later.
WEDNESDAY: Yogurt + Granola; Carrots; Melon; Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers. Here is a perfect meal to pack in advance (even a couple of days ahead of time) and store in the refrigerator because none of the ingredients will get soggy or stale. If you use Silk yogurt like I did here, it’s a dairy-free meal for children who might be sensitive.
THURSDAY: Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich + Horizon Organic Cheese Stick + Cherry Tomatoes + Black Raspberries. This is an example of a lunch that I threw together based on what I found in my kitchen. The peanut butter sandwich will always be a favorite with my boys, and some sliced banana adds a bit of sweetness with additional nutritional benefits. I include organic cheese for more protein, as well as whatever seasonal fruits and veggies are stocked in my refrigerator.
FRIDAY: Homemade Trail Mix + Horizon Grahams + Horizon Organic Colby Cheese Shapes + Bell Pepper Strips (with salsa for dipping). Do your kids love snacking as much as mine do? Sometimes just a well-balanced combination of little bites can add up to a super-easy, super-filling meal.
The Honey Grahams are made with organic whole wheat, so this lunch offers healthy fats, protein, calcium, whole grains, fruits, and veggies for a powerful punch!
And there you have it! A full week of lunches complete…and now it’s time to head back to the grocery store to re-stock the pantry for the week ahead!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Horizon, Silk, & So Delicious. The opinions and text are all mine.