What a Week’s Worth of School Lunches Really Looks Like

One mom opens up her kids' lunchboxes to reveal what she packed them.

By: Foodlets

School lunch. Is there anything more relentless? Well, yes, laundry. But here’s the thing. With three kids in elementary school and one half-pint in preschool, I pack a whole lotta lunches every week. Now, I don’t have a fancy meal plan, but I do rely on a few strategies that make it possible to pack four lunches in about 15 minutes every day.

1- I repeat key ingredients so we get the most out of each one and thus spend less on groceries. Plus, once I have something like eggs on my mind, it’s easier to think of three or four ways to use them than consider ALL the things one could pack in a lunch.

2- We aim for at least two servings of fruits and veggies in each lunch (since experts say five servings per day is a good benchmark for healthy eating). Again, it simplifies the process to just stock up on a bunch of fresh produce at the store — peppers, apples, snap peas, kiwi, plums, whatever is on sale — then chop it up and throw that good stuff in.

3- Above all, bento boxes make the “planning” easy at our house because I just keep filling compartments, food stays put and, honestly, everything just looks more appetizing!

So, here’s what that looks like on a Monday through Friday:

MONDAY: Magical Mac & Cheese Muffins (photo above)

The “magic” is in the pureed sweet potato that’s mixed right into the cheese! This hand-held mac and cheese may be favorite way to handle weekend leftovers, but it’s the rascals’ favorite lunch ever. Also, these Muffin Cups require eggs. We have backyard chickens and a lot of eggs on hand so you’ll see eggs as the star of the show this week. Also included today: walnuts and M&MS (a makeshift trail mix!), kiwi, sugar snap peas and red bell peppers.

P.S. Today we used different lunchboxes because the muffins are too tall for our stainless-steel version.

TUESDAY: Egg Salad on Flat Everything Bagels

Very Pickly Egg Salad requires exactly four ingredients and happens to be another lunch my kids actually cheer for. Fresh pineapple, a clementine, pretzels and a DIY S’Mores kit just for fun.

WEDNESDAY: PB&J

Yep, there’s NO shame in a good ol’ fashioned peanut butter and jam sandwich. This really hearty bread adds tons of fiber and protein but so does that Zucchini-Banana Muffin. We also have hard-boiled eggs (which peel like a dream when you cook them in the Instant Pot), fresh plums and a handful of trail mix.

THURSDAY: Granola Bars

Our kids get out of school early on Wednesdays so we made a batch of Ina Garten’s Chocolate Chip Granola Bars to enjoy for the rest of the week. There’s also cucumbers, Cheese and Turkey Roll-Ups, apples dusted with cinnamon sugar and a gummy treat from a bin that my husband brought back on a recent work trip to South Africa.

FRIDAY: Mini Quiches

Quiche Cups (baked in a muffin pan) are awesome because you can make them ahead of time and fill them with ANYTHING. Ham, cheese, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, bacon. WHATEVER you have/the kids like. Plus, everything is more fun when there’s a shard of Rainbow Meringue Cookies (AKA, Unicorn Poop) for dessert!

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