Packing my picky eater’s school lunch can be tricky, mainly because he does not like any type of sandwich. His favorite lunch items are hotdogs, grilled cheese, and chicken nuggets, which aren’t the easiest foods to pack for school lunches. I’m constantly looking for new no-sandwich lunch ideas to pack for him. Even if your littles like sandwiches, this is a good way to switch things up.
Organizing a No-Sandwich Lunch
I use the Bentgo Kids Lunch Box to assemble my kids’ lunches, and I use the compartments as a loose guide. There are many other bento-style lunch boxes out there. For me, this is easier than having to wash and organize multiple containers.
Hawaiian Rolls are a favorite around here, as are healthy muffins. My kids love Nut Thins and Triscuits, which are relatively clean cracker choices. Pasta is an easy and versatile dish that still tastes good cold. (Just make sure your child is old enough to eat it without making a complete mess at school.) My kids will also eat Naan or Pita bread plain, or with guacamole, almond butter, or hummus. Breakfast for lunch is also a favorite for no sandwich options. Try packing pancakes (we like the frozen Kodiak protein pancakes) or a bagel.
For proteins, we stick with lunch meat, pepperoni, or a hard-boiled egg. Leftover rotisserie or grilled chicken is also a great option. Aidells has a great line of already cooked meatballs, chicken burgers, and sausage that my kids love. Added bonus, they go on sale at Publix frequently. If your family is vegan or vegetarian, tofu is a good choice, and beans for older kids.
Fruit (and Veggies)
My picky eaters’ favorite fruits are mandarin oranges, apple slices (or unsweetened applesauce if your kid likes those), grapes, and berries. We are still working on liking veggies, but I try to sneak in some carrot sticks or cucumbers with a little hummus. I have found that my picky son is more likely to eat the fruits and veggies I pack if he can pick them out himself. Most of the time he will choose the same things, but occasionally he will try something new.
Dairy (or Dairy Substitute)
My kids love cheese so I usually include a cheese stick, Babybel, or some kind of cubed cheese. Sometimes I’ll also add a squeeze tube yogurt. If you keep them in the freezer they thaw out by lunchtime. There are a ton of non-dairy yogurt options now for kids who can’t tolerate or don’t like dairy.
In the middle of the Bentgo boxes is a small circle where I put a “treat.” Usually, I pack fruit snacks (we love Annie’s Organic Fruit Snacks). Sometimes I’ll put a cookie in if we have them at home. The compartment is so small that it’s easy to get away with just packing a small treat.
Hopefully, this guide keeps your lunch game strong throughout the year. Let us know what you like to pack in your kids’ lunches!