Moving Beyond PB&J: A Week of School Lunches

Around these parts (read that in your best Texas drawl), most kids have completed over a month of school. Shoes are less shiny, pencil erasers have already been worn down, and the excitement of “back to school” is a fading memory. We’ve all started to enter the daily routine of ordinary life.

I’ve always found it a bit odd that there are a plethora of “School Lunch Ideas” posts and articles in August and then very little mention of school lunches for the rest of the school year. The thing about lunch is that it comes every. stinking. day. One does not simply pack lunches in August (read that in your best Sean Bean a la Lord of the Rings voice).

Here is a week of sandwich-less school lunch ideas that are doable even as back-to-school enthusiasm fades. Nothing too fancy in the lineup, as I’m often one who packs lunches while making dinner (and, like most, simultaneously supervising homework, refereeing arguments, and putting in a load of laundry). These five lunches are a good mix of healthy fats, protein, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Day 1:

I’m a huge fan of silicon muffin cups. They turn most plastic-ware containers into pseudo-Bento Boxes.

Cubed turkey + cheese cubes + crackers + grapes + veggies

Day 2:


Peanut butter dip (see recipe below) + pretzels + apples + carrots

Day 3:


Caprese pasta salad (see recipe below) + grapes
(using the New Wave Enviro lunch system from this post)

Day 4:


Boiled egg + mini muffins + fruit

Day 5:

That’s frost on the fruit, not mold! #amateurfoodphotographer

Yogurt + frozen fruit + granola + almonds

Peanut Butter Dip

  • 1 c. peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • Milk (as needed)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


  1. Blend peanut butter, cream cheese, honey, and vanilla together until creamy.
  2. Add milk as needed to reach desired consistency.
  3. Keep refrigerated.

Caprese Pasta Salad

  • 2 c. cooked pasta
  • 1 c. sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 3/4 c. sliced cucumbers
  • 1 c. cubed mozzarella
  • 1/4 c. sliced basil (more or less to taste)
  • 3 Tbsp. EVOO
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Mix all ingredients and season to taste.[hr]

Readers, please chime in below. What are some lunches your kids are enjoying this month?

Michelle moved to San Antonio eight years ago and yet still feels like a newcomer. She is rather smitten with the Alamo City. She and her husband met at Texas A&M and started their marriage in Minnesota. After six years of very cold winters, they returned to Texas. Michelle has two kids (12 and 9), along with a very quirky rescue dog and two rather cute guinea pigs. A former corporate food scientist turned part-time yoga instructor, she still takes her food very seriously—she just doesn’t get paid for it anymore. She is fueled by tea, cold brew coffee, yoga, dog walking, books and quickly googling answers to her kids eleventy million questions.


  1. These lunches look great, although some seem too small for kids over 9. Are these geared toward a certain age range?

    • Hi Kate! My kids are 7 and 10 and have pretty decent appetites (although my 7 year old often chooses to socialize instead of eat). If a lunch seems too light, throwing in a pack of almonds, a cheese stick or maybe a granola bar can add an extra 150-200 calories easily. When we were trying to put some weight on my 10 year old, I added avocados to most of her lunches.

  2. Thanks for the great ideas–I agree, I need inspiration all year long, not just in September! I am excited to make that peanut butter dip for my kids.

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