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Quick and Easy School Lunchbox Ideas

Packing lunch for your children can be a great way to both insure your child is getting a nutritious meal and to save money. It can be difficult to come up with food that is healthy, cheap and that your kids will love. This guide contains quick and easy school lunchbox ideas.


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

0 found this helpful
August 19, 2006

We live close to the High school in our town. Since some of my daughter's friends have the same lunch period, they want to come to our house and have lunch. I work, so am not at home. I need ideas for "quick" lunches for them.

Kathyg from Oskaloosa, IA

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June 12, 20070 found this helpful

I believe that people who don't trust their teenagers create untrustworthy teenagers. It's a self fulfilling prophecy. Children don't cross a magical "responsibility" line at 18, they need to be taught all along. That means having the chance to mess up along the way.

I liked the comment "I have a teenager and trust him till he proves I can't, which he hasn't done. I am not saying that is always the way, but I think if we give our children the same respect we expect for ourselves they will surprise you." I have met many teenagers who are totally trustworthy and responsible.

I was preparing dinner for my little brothers BEFORE I was a teenager. We are all in our thirties now. We had little trouble in our teenage years, I believe, because our mother respected and trusted us to make our own decisions.

School is about out for the year now. Kathyg, how did the lunches work out? Anyone else have practical experience with this situation instead of "advice"?


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April 15, 20080 found this helpful

This lady didn't ask for parenting advice. Only advice on quick lunches, so thanks anyway ladies. I also am curious about good quick lunches that don't require a microwave. That makes them disgusting. Any ideas on quick lunches? I have an oven at my disposal and a mini fridge. I just need some things I can make and eat within a half hour. some good ideas but i'm looking for some things a little more hearty than cold cuts and chips with dip.

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April 15, 20080 found this helpful

A lot depends on their tastes -but the following always work nice for me:

Soups - can freeze and reheat small portions

Casseroles - variety is endless.

Pot of chili

"salad bar" - they can make their own.

Tuna/egg salad

Sausage rolls (tuck sausage/bacon& cheese into pizza dough balls and fold over to form a roll - bake at about 400 for 12 min or so - serve cold or warm in an oven)

Hope this helps.

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August 22, 20080 found this helpful

I strongly agree that this question was about lunches and not child welfare. Here in OH you are allowed to be left home alone at the tender age of 12. Trust your kids and they will trust you. If we are always thinking them to be untrustworthy then eventually they will be.

I would buy deli meats and bread and some chips to keep around for the "pop up" lunchers. Make some kool-aid the night before. xoxo

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September 1, 20080 found this helpful

Okay this is not meant to be a book on parenting! All this woman asked for was an answer to her question about quick lunches. My suggestion would be to keep things in the house that the kids like. If there favorite food is say, fried chicken but they don't like the taste of it when it's re-heated just fry some boneless chicken breasts and have plenty of salad stuff around so they could make a chicken salad. Ask them what they want for lunch. After all, they have to eat it!

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September 2, 20080 found this helpful

When I was a teen I would bring my friends home and make pizza bagels under the broiler.

All you need are bagels- cheap frozen ones work fine, toast them to defrost and crisp up. Add sauce (I used jarred spaghetti sauce), mozzarella cheese and any toppings. Place on a cookie sheet covered w/ foil for easy clean-up and broil for a few minutes in a toaster oven or regular oven.

Side note: My friends were very respectful of my house because they would not have been invited if they acted otherwise.

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September 7, 20080 found this helpful

Sprinkle shredded cheese on a tortilla, top with another tortilla, and cook on an ungreased griddle until the cheese is melted and it's lightly toasted on each side. Let cool, then cut into wedges like a pizza. Pack some salsa or sour cream for dipping.

Contrary to popular myth, cold pizza is not disgusting. Wrap a slice or two in plastic for lunch. Or make a bagel pizza. Cut a bagel in half, spread with spaghetti sauce and sprinkle with shredded cheese and pepperoni. Bake until the cheese is melted, then let cool completely and wrap in plastic.

And to all you parents giving advice on the situation, I feel sorry for your kids, you have to let them live a little. Not every guy is looking to violate your kid, or trash the house, they have to have some fun sometimes!

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January 12, 20090 found this helpful

I think Lynda had the best intentions in the world when she said that. I can't help but ask:

1) Do you realize the extra amount of money that you could save? you're paying for extra x many number of hungry teenagers 5 days a week!

2) By having something ready made for them, you're making them come back for more!

I think if they are good girls, they would bring their own food! don't be too naive just because you want to be a cool mom and your daughter to be popular.

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November 13, 20090 found this helpful

Some bread and lunch meat is perfect. Lunch periods are short in high school. It's not like we have time to go destroy a house. All we want to do is eat. What me and my friends do is change up whose houses we go to, so its fair to everyone's parents. Hot pockets are also good.

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April 18, 20100 found this helpful

From a teenagers perspective.... we just want food! Were not looking for alcoholic drinks, were just hungry, and want to get out of school. sure everyday seems like a lot of time and money, switch off houses and tell them to go to a restaurant and fast food. I would consider myself responsible and about 95% of my friends are. I may not be a mother but I know that I was grown up to have earned responsibility, and I have never done anything to break that trust. For other mothers (and i have seen this happen countless times) denying your children trust and responsibility, leads them to act out and hide behind their parents backs and have to prove to their friends things. Just a teenagers perspective :)

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Read More Answers

0 found this helpful
November 5, 2009

I'm looking for cheap easy lunch ideas for myself and my partner. Any helpful hints? We work separate hours and jobs. Thanks.

By Harmony from Northern CA

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November 6, 20090 found this helpful

We like peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

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November 6, 20090 found this helpful

Hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, pudding/fruit cups, cheese and crackers, potted meat, toss salad and add the dressing when ready to eat; if you have use of a microwave then any leftovers of soups, chili, meatloaf, mac and cheese or sloppy joes would work.

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November 5, 20090 found this helpful

I'm a busy homemaker who is just discovering the wonderful world of being frugal. My household consists of 6 family members, 5 adults and one 4 year old. To help cut costs, I have decided to start making bagged lunches for the 3 of them that are at work or school for lunchtime.

So I'm looking for reasonably healthy, affordable bagged lunch ideas that are easy to make ahead of time and just take from the fridge. Variety would be good, I don't want them getting bored of the meals and not eat (or go spend $8 at a fast food restaurant). Any advice?

Stacey from Dorr, MI


Easy, Healthy Bagged Lunch Ideas

Make your own fruit and veggie packets ahead of time. Peel, cut, and put into individual bags or containers so that it is easy to grab 'n go. Same goes for snacks. By a big bag and make your own snack bags. Saves money and time. I also try to make lunches the night before so that it is easier in the morning. Many people don't want to be bothered to make a lunch if they are in a rush, but if it is already done then it is a no-brainer. (01/06/2009)

By Toolgirl

Easy, Healthy Bagged Lunch Ideas

I usually make meals like chili, stews, soups, and some Indian dishes in larger quantities and freeze in individual containers in the freezer, just grab and go and heat it up in the microwave at school or work. You can also purchase plastic containers which have several compartments in one, so you can put several things in there, just like a frozen meal you'd buy in the store (mashed potatoes, veggies, and a protein).

When apples are really inexpensive I make my own apple sauce and store in containers ready for lunches. I do the same with rice pudding. Much healthier and cheaper than the store bought stuff.

Hummus veggie wraps made with pita bread and filled with tomatoes and cucumbers is really good, too. Hummus has lots of protein and is easy and cheap to make. Also looks like something more gourmet than the average peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Good luck. (01/06/2009)

By freya1970

Easy, Healthy Bagged Lunch Ideas

I like to make salads in small containers and put the dressing in a separate small container. All you have to do is add the dressing and shake it to mix it all together. There are so many things you can put on a salad, meats, cheeses, veggies, fruits, and nuts. And there are so many different dressings that you won't get bored having the same old thing. (01/08/2009)

By penn4482

Easy, Healthy Bagged Lunch Ideas

A sandwich with one or two pieces of fruit is a good lunch. You may want to include just a few potato chips or a pickle. Years ago we used to say something sweet and something salty for a packed lunch. My son likes to take a cup of yogurt for his morning's coffee break.

For those who have a microwave to use, leftovers make the best lunches. (01/09/2009)

By Carol in PA

Easy, Healthy Bagged Lunch Ideas

I live in Hawaii and get lots of different influences from different cultures. I also have a very very picky daughter that does not like to eat so I constantly bribe her to take her home lunch to school. So with the Japanese influence and my daughter in mind, I am forced to find an alternative lunch solution.


This is supplying my daughter with a nutritious lunch and it is very organized making her friends envious of her food so she is more than willing to take the food to school and eat it, solving some of my daughters eating problems.

This site and others, google "bento" for tips on assembling and what the supplies you would need. Substitutions for the expensive supplies are mandatory with my tight budget.

There are many more. Good luck. (01/09/2009)

By soyzicks

Easy, Healthy Bagged Lunch Ideas

My husband and I smoke chickens and then make chicken salad, and chicken tacos, enchiladas out of the left overs. We usually smoke 3 at a time, and that's just for the 2 of us. In your case, with such a large family, I would recommend 8 chickens. Here's what you do. Chop up some onion and mix with minced garlic and some poultry seasoning. Stuff cavityies of the chickens with this mixture. Season outside of chicken, omitting salt, no salt until chickens are done. Now wrap in foil and smoke for at least 6 hours. Be very careful removing from smoker as juices will scald you. Allow chickens to cool and then debone.

Before I forget, this chicken salad is also excellent stuffed in a tomato or a avocado, for a light meal. Now back to the chicken salad. I chop onion, celery and the chicken, put in a bowl. I actually run my chicken through a old fashioned meat grinder, a food processor will work well for you. Now add some Miracle Whip, a squirt of mustard and a little chopped pickle or some relish. You can add salt now if you like. Enjoy. (01/09/2009)

By Cheryl

Easy, Healthy Bagged Lunch Ideas

Here's some good ideas:

You would be surprised at how much a plain sandwich will be coveted by other students or coworkers when it is made with homemade bread. I gave you all ideas for cold lunches, because I don't want to assume your family has access to a microwave. (01/09/2009)

By Carly34

Easy, Healthy Bagged Lunch Ideas

Just one little comment: Of course I know your family is using reusable containers and saving their paper bags, right? Even Zip-loc bags can be brought home and washed, especially if what's been in them isn't too messy. (01/10/2009)

By JustPlainJo

Easy, Healthy Bagged Lunch Ideas

My dear husband works physically hard and eats aplenty. Each day I send the following items (keep an eye on the trans fats and sat fat on the labels):

Phew! All of this is packed in a cooler with 2 large blue ice freezies.

To make this possible, on Sunday night, I bag up the veggies for 3 days. The nuts and cookies are already bagged. On Wednesday night, I bag veggies for 2 more days. I'd bag all the veggies a week in advance, but by day 4 and 5, they don't look so great. I keep the veggies in their bags in a special location in the fridge, so they are easier to find and no one makes the mistake of grabbing one to munch (because they look delish!). Sandwiches are made the night before.
When on sale, I'll send a South Beach Diet wrap sandwich to give myself a break.

The granola bars, nuts, cookies, tunas, are kept together, so all I have to do it grab each one and toss it into a plastic shoebox. In the morning, that day's lunch is therefore already gathered and all I have to do is open the fridge and fetch the yogurt, veggie bag, sandwich, and freezies.

And, as I was accused of being too efficient, I did not make it once when I was sick, and received an immediate apology, repeated several times. (01/10/2009)

By cookwie

Easy, Healthy Bagged Lunch Ideas

When eggs come down in price for you (if they haven't already, they have a little bit here). How about a boiled egg? Cheese and crackers?
Apple slices (with or w/out peanut butter dip)? Celery sticks (with or with out peanut butter)? Carrot slices or curles?

You could freeze your own ice pack to keep lunch cool or freeze bottled water to serve a double duty as cold water after it melts a little from morning until noon + as a coldpack. Use small containers for chips or DIY a reusable chip bag that can be washed out to remove grease left by chips. Grapes. Freeze and by noon they will be ready to munch.

Mom always liked to buy inexpensive sandwich cookies (back then it was like 2 lbs. for 50 cents to $1) and we always had those on long trips to save $ instead of buying gas station snacks or from a machine.
Popcorn could be popped the night before and bagged or boxed into a great sack lunch. Or the leftover is usually always good the next morning for breakfast.

Below is a link to DIY a reusable lunch sack from a Fed Ex mailer: or you could easily make 6 + extras from a dollar store vinyl tablecloth. Get the largest size and have leftover fabric for other small items. Carefully open the size sack you want to use for the lunch as a free pattern.

You could take this a step farther and make a couple of pockets inside or a false bottom to place a small ice pack in. Use your sewing machine to put the names of the people whom the bags belong to or get out your tube paints or permamarkers. (01/10/2009)

By melody_yesterday

Easy, Healthy Bagged Lunch Ideas

Make zucchini bread or banana bread as cupcakes and freeze them in separate bags. Semi healthy, delicious and easy. (01/10/2009)

By Jenifer

Easy, Healthy Bagged Lunch Ideas

PS. I forgot to mention a prewrapped stick of low fat cheese. (01/11/2009)

By cookwie

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