My number one concern above everything else in the whole wide world -- above the perils of sending my son off on a school bus, above being away from my son for hours and hours and hours each day, above the bevy of homework and projects that is sure to come -- is packing school lunches that he will eat. Every day.
I obsess about lunch box ideas. Really I do. There's a whole list in a notebook devoted to them. It's true ... back to school recipes are just totally haunting me.
When I was in elementary school, I had a bit of pickiness. Lunch had to be ham and Swiss cheese with butter on white bread. Any variation, and it wouldn't get eaten. And God-forbid my mother sent bologna, then it would just go straight to the trash can.
Thank goodness my son isn't picky.
But while he isn't picky, he sometimes will skip eating things that don't catch his eye. Last year, he went weeks without drinking his juice box at school because he wasn't that into it. (Note to self: buy juice boxes that he likes.)
What my son likes is variety ... and foods that are high on flavor. So, that's what I'm working from as I settle on lunch box ideas for this year.
One thing that is high on my list is making flavorful dips that I can send with crackers and cut up veggies. One of my son's favorite dips is Basil White Bean. In a pinch though, Ranch or Blue Cheese dressing can make a fabulous dip too. I'll send the dips with carrot spears, celery and other veggies.
For those types of meals, I have a great container from The Container Store that has a center area for dip and a surrounding area for the veggies and whatnot. It's called the Snack & Dip ($3.99) ... and it can all get tossed in the dishwasher after dinner.
For times when he's more interested in a sandwich, I may go traditional with turkey or ham and cheese. But something like my California Turkey Club Wrap could be a great treat too.
For older kids, the Greek Chicken Salad Sandwiches is a good idea. Just be sure to pack the salad separate from the pita.
Now, one more lunch box idea I have been playing with: pasta. My son adores pasta, so something like Antipasti Pasta Salad is a natural lunch box fit for him.
When winter rolls around, I may also send Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes, or something of the like, in a thermos container - which will keep warm until he can eat.
Have some ideas of your own? Share your lunch box ideas in the comments!
Sarah W. Caron (aka scaron) is a food writer, editor and blogger who writes about family-friendly foods and raising a healthy family at Sarah's Cucina Bella.