The start to this school year has been more stressful than in years past, to say the least. And nothing adds to that stress more than needing to think of ideas for your kids’ lunches.
Whether you opted for virtual learning this year and are responsible for providing lunch every day, or you’re just new to packing your kid’s school lunch as they head to in-person learning, here’s a running list of school lunch ideas to keep on hand next time you head to the grocery store to plan your week of meals.
Feel free to print this list and stick it on your fridge for every time you’re stuck on what to prepare for your child's next lunch, snack or sweet treat.
And for the days you just don’t feel like putting a lunch together, don’t forget you can always stop by your local Buffalo Wings & Rings for a delicious lunch break, or get it for pickup and delivery.
Healthy options even kids will love
1. Smoothies - Smoothies are one of the easiest foods to sneak healthy additions into while still giving your kids the sweet flavors they love. Try adding ingredients like chia seeds, greek yogurt or honey for natural sweeteners that won’t turn your smoothie into an (actual) dessert.
2. Brown rice stir-fry - Swap white rice for brown and butter for olive oil, add your favorite veggies and chicken or tofu, and you’ve got a delicious stir fry kids’ lunch. Plus it’s easy to store — and you might have leftovers for dinner.
3. Cauliflower wings - Vegan cauliflower wings are surprisingly easy to make and can be dipped in your favorite sauces. Check out our blog on how to make our very own Chef Dan’s recipe, or pick them up fresh & hot at your local Buffalo Wings & Rings.
4. Lettuce wraps - Switch up taco night by trading in the tortillas for lettuce. These can be varied to fit your kids’ taste buds, whether you use turkey, chicken or just veggies.
5. Salad - No matter what flavor your kids crave, Buffalo Wings & Rings has the salad/dressing combo that will fit their tastes. From buffalo chicken or classic cob to southwest chicken, your kid is sure to enjoy one of the many salads at Buffalo Wings & Rings.
Good for Giggles
6. Spaghetti tacos - Maybe not so appetizing for the parents, this treat inspired by the Nickelodeon TV show iCarly, is sure to get your kids to giggle (and maybe actually finish the meal!)
7. Pigs in a blanket - A classic for the kids (and adults) — hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls or biscuits. For fun, add mustard or ketchup eyes and smiles.
8. Fun-shaped pancakes - You can never go wrong with breakfast for lunch. Crack out the griddle and a squirt bottle for the batter, and let your kids do the shape requesting. You can make lots of mini pancakes, large heart-shaped ones, or even add chocolate chips eyes and a bacon smile.
9. Walking taco - Your kids will think they’ve got the upper hand when you hand them a bag of Fritos for lunch. In reality, you can sneak meat and veggies in their walking taco to turn it into a healthy(ish) lunch.
10. Spider-shaped peanut butter crackers - Start with classic peanut butter crackers (PB sandwiched between two Ritz crackers). Snap small rod pretzels in half and squeeze one end in between the sandwich for legs. Add two dabs of peanut butter and attach two mini chocolate chips or raisins for the eyes, and you’ve got yourself a spooky, snacky lunch.
Quick & Easy
11. Peanut butter & banana sandwich - This one is easy to make but twice as delicious as a regular old PB&J. Toast two slices of whole wheat bread, lather on the peanut butter and cut slices of bananas to put on top. A fun twist to regular PB&J. Bon appétit!
12. A hot sandwich - What’s easier than ordering from your favorite wing shop? Buffalo Wings & Rings has all kinds of sandwiches — from our Santa Fe steak to the double BBQ pork.
13. Pita pocket - Using all the ingredients you would for a regular sandwich (or just whatever leftovers you have in the fridge), spice things up with a pita pocket. Consider adding hummus and feta, which pair great with pita bread.
14. Chicken noodle soup - Why save this soup for sick days? If you don’t have time to make the old-fashioned favorite from scratch, cracking open a can works just as well.
15. Chicken wings - For those days that you just want to throw something in the oven, frozen chicken wings are a great option. Better yet, choose from countless flavors like garlic parmesan, sweet BBQ and teriyaki and let us deliver spicy, savory wings to your door from Buffalo Wings & Rings.
Mouthwatering enough for moms & dads
16. Hot panini - If you don’t have a panini press, just use two heavy skillets to press it down (who says paninis need grill marks?) Choose your favorite crunchy/sturdy bread and then fill with your choice of insides, whether it’s grilled chicken, ham, or bacon.
17. Wagon wheel pasta salad - Add this kid-friendly twist onto your favorite pasta salad recipe by using wagon wheels pasta. Rotini and farfalle shapes work just as well... or if you want to get real crazy, use all three.
18. Chili - The hot meal that’s great year-round. Get the good stuff canned, or try our chili at Buffalo Wings & Rings, topped with cheddar jack & tortilla chips.
19. Bento box - Inspired by Japanese-style kids’ lunches, bento boxes are a fun twist on a classic bagged lunch. Fill the box traditional style with sushi rolls, miso soup and rice, or fill your own bento box (there are plenty to choose from online) with American classics like mini PB&J bites and fruit.
20. Burger - We have tons of different burgers at BWR, from classic cheese to mouthwatering bacon. Pair with a side of fries, coleslaw or broccoli and pick up for lunch.
21. Tomato soup & grilled cheese - For some added pizzazz, use silly cookie cutters shaped like airplanes or stars to turn the grilled cheese into crustless grilled cheese bites.
22. Quesadilla - Add some chicken or veggies, make it cheese-only, or layer on a little pizza sauce to turn them into a pizza-dilla.
23. Macaroni & cheese - Instant mac & cheese is always a hit as it’s quick, easy and enjoyed by kids of all ages. When you want to shake things up, consider adding broccoli, bacon bits or bread crumbs on top — or try our kid’s mac & cheese at Buffalo Wings & Rings.
24. Pizza bagels - Go with store-bought Bagel Bites or make it “from scratch” by adding pizza sauce & cheese to a bagel and popping it in the oven.
25. Breakfast sandwiches - Turn lunch into brunch by adding egg, cheese & bacon to an English muffin, croissant or biscuit.
Don’t forget the sides…
Add a side to one of the school lunch ideas above, or mix & match a few sides for an easy snack lunch.
- Hummus and Triscuits
- Celery and ranch (a great addition to your Buffalo Wings & Rings meal).
- Trail mix
- Peanut butter-filled pretzels
- Hard boiled eggs
- String cheese
- Fruit kabobs
- Frozen yogurt
- Rice cakes with peanut butter
- Chips and guacamole
- Dried fruits
- Pickles (or try the fried pickle chips at Buffalo Wings & Rings).
- Ranch seasoned popcorn
- Raisin snack packs
After-lunch sweet treats
- Hershey’s kisses or hugs
- Graham crackers and frosting
- Nutella with a frozen banana
- Apple slices dipped in caramel
- Milkshakes (try any of Buffalo Wings & Rings’ milkshakes, like the Epic Oreo milkshakes).
- Sweet and salty no-bake energy bites
- Fruit popsicles
- Whole-wheat muffins
- Pudding cups
- Puppy chow
What lunches and snacks are we forgetting? Do you have any go-tos that satisfy your kids’ craving and keep them energized for virtual learning or in-school packed lunches? Let us know. And don’t forget you can always take a lunch break with us. Find your closest Buffalo Wings & Rings and make a plan to come visit us today.