If your attitude about grocery shopping and making school lunches lies somewhere between a groan and a worried glance at the cabinet, we’re right there with you. However, we’re determined to take a step forward and spend this school year more prepared—and we’re going to do it using these interchangeable lunch ideas that your kids will actually eat. Just don’t nibble too much while you’re preparing them!
4 Ingredients author Kim McCosker likes to whip up 15-minute meals like stir fries, pasta bakes, and Sloppy Joes for dinner, which makes for great lunch material the next day. “These are my go-to meals because I know the whole family will eat them,” she says, adding “And they offer ways for me to add or disguise vegetables for my kids. ”
Shop Ahead for Your Lunch Components
You need fresh fruits and veggies, dairy, a protein, and sandwich basics. Use this simple shopping checklist to come up with a stable of goods that will get you through the week. Be sure your produce is on the “safe” list in light of recent recalls.
Open Your Own “Deli”
Just kidding. But with these 23 super sandwich ideas, your children will have a hard time getting bored or “trading up” with their schoolmates. Word to the wise: Stock up on peanut butter now—prices are going up 30 percent in the next few months!
Keep It Clean
Sure, the lunch box is utilitarian and a staple of the educational system (as well as a fashion accessory). But it’s also a harbinger of germs shuttling to and fro every day, so take these steps to keep food safe and bacteria to a minimum. When lunches sit for hours before the bell rings, you want to make sure that turkey club is still good tasting and good for your little one.