We asked. You delivered. You sent us your best back-to-school breakfast and lunch ideas along with tips to help the school year run smoothly. Thank you! We’ve consolidated your contributions in this article to easily find inspiration when you need a fresh menu or encouragement on how to include a healthy breakfast as part of the morning scramble. Whether you’re sending your first kiddo to kindergarten or you’re a veteran school mom, this guide will help you feel ahead of the school game. Even if your littles are years from entering school (hug them now and don’t let go because they grow up too fast!), these ideas and tips can help you create a smoother routine.
- Oatmeal. It’s a filling staple that is so versatile! We are big fans of oats with peanut butter and cinnamon (hello peanut butter cookie!) in this house. But, it can be a little time consuming in the morning with making it and then letting it cool down. Many of our moms swear by Overnight Oats. Check out these recipes to see if a flavor fits your family!
- Breakfast Cookies. Ah yes, call it a cookie and they will devour it. I know, it’s worked for two weeks in this house. 😉 With less than a half-cup of honey or maple syrup per recipe, they’re a cookie you can feed in the morning guilt-free. The Peanut Butter Cookie has lentils in it and the Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookie is packed with fiber and protein. All three of my boys – ages 5, 2, and 1 – have enjoyed these two varieties every morning since school started.
- Yogurt. Plain yogurt is a perfect canvas for a quick breakfast. Start with plain Greek yogurt or a thicker plain yogurt such as Mountain High. Scoop some into a bowl and add the fixings. One of our moms suggested the classic yogurt with granola (you could make your own granola or crumble up one of those cookies or get some quality deliciousness from the store). Another mom suggested adding Cheerios for a convenient breakfast. Fresh fruit, pumpkin puree, nuts, or jam are good additions to flavor up your favorite plain yogurt.
- Eggs. Hard-boiled, scrambled, omelet-d, breakfast burrito-d. We had some moms list eggs as the way to go in the morning. Packed with protein and a little fat, they’re sure to keep your kiddos’ hunger at bay until lunch. Pair your choice of egg preparation with a complex carb – think whole wheat toast or tortilla – and a piece of fruit and you’re good to go!
- Bread things. Some mornings we start the day with peanut butter slathered on some sort of bread situation. It might be a pancake (previously made and frozen), or English muffin, or frozen waffle, or whole wheat toast, or whole-wheat small bagel. These are simple breakfasts that taste delicious, contain protein, fat, and fiber to tide kiddos over, and can help get everyone to the bus stop on time.
- Chia Seed Pudding. This is one I have not tried yet, but chia seeds are great sources of Omega 3 fatty acids and fiber so why not? One mom suggested putting them in squeezy pouches for a mess-free breakfast in the car ride to school. This blog post has five different ways to try it!
- Sandwiches. In a season where simplicity needs to rule the day, sandwiches are where its at for school lunches. You could go old school (pun intended) with a classic PB&J or hip it up a bit with avocado, tomato, and cracked-pepper turkey slices. Start with whole grain bread (we like the Ezekiel brand) and get creative from there! Use hummus for a healthy spread for meat or veggie sandwiches. Substitute a banana for jelly and make a PB&B. Wrap up last night’s dinner in a tortilla. So. Many. Options.
- Hot lunches. If you have a thermos available, you could double up on dinner and send hot leftovers to school. Make a big batch of stew or chili and freeze individual portions to be reheated at school – if that is an option available for your kiddo.
- Roll-ups. One mom shared her kiddo’s favorite – an avocado slice rolled in a slice of turkey. Genius! You could also do this with string cheese, pickles, or veggie sticks such as carrots or celery.
- Tuna. One of our moms sends her daughter to school with tuna and crackers. To add nutrition to tuna or canned chicken, substitute plain yogurt or hummus for mayo. Mix in diced celery, chopped grapes, and some seasoning and you’ve got a gourmet salad!
- Mix and Match. Parents Magazine shared a “formula” for school lunches: A main item, fruit or veggie, and a side. Main items can be hard-boiled eggs, a sandwich, left-overs, or bean quesadilla. Choose edamame, kale chips, cucumber rounds, melon, kiwi, grapes, apples, orange slices for the fruit/veggie. Round out lunch with a side of rice cakes, olives, roasted chickpeas, trail mix, whole-grain crackers, pretzels, cheese stick, or sunflower seeds. The combinations are endless!
- The number one tip we have to make the school year seamless is: BE PREPARED!!
- Take a couple hours one day to pack most of the lunches. Bag up all the items possible – chips, trail mix, fruits and veggies.
- Some sandwiches can be prepared and frozen. Create a PB&J assembly line and freeze up an entire loafs-worth of sammies. They’ll thaw by the time the kiddos are in school.
- Prepare breakfast cookies, energy bars, or breakfast burritos ahead of time so they are ready for each morning. These also freeze well. This sounds like a great Mom’s Night Out event…
- Create a routine in your evening and mornings to make sure lunches and breakfasts are ready.
- Let your kiddos help! When they help with bagging up produce for their lunches, they’re more likely to eat it.
- And, have fun! The school year can be a stressful time with all the things – sports, PTA meetings, choir concerts, homework, hungry kiddos that need heaps of food. Remember to take it all in and soak up the sweet moments of learning and growing and achieving. Wasn’t it just yesterday they were in newborn onsies?!? Embrace and enjoy the craziness.