Lunches for a Different School Year

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By Recipe Team on August 27, 2020

This school year looks a lot different than usual, but a balanced lunch is still as important as ever.

The ideas below, from the Carilion Living recipe files, are flexible and adaptable (just like we need to be this year).

Sending your students to class? These are perfect for packing in a lunch box. Learning at home? Take a break from your busy work-and-learn-from-home weekday and prepare them together!

For school-based lunches, follow these tips from Christina Thomas, registered dietitian with Carilion Dining and Nutrition Services:

  • Pack dips and dressings separately in a leakproof container
  • Use frozen juice boxes as ice packs
  • Avoid packing premade mayonnaise-based foods
  • Let kids DIY lunches with shelf-stable tuna and mayo packets

Click or tap through the healthy, kid-approved lunch ideas below to get the recipes for each. (Looking for easy back-to-school breakfast ideas? We have those, too!)

Flatbread Pizza

Using storebought naan for the crust makes preparing these pizzas a breeze! Top with colorful vegetables and pack or serve with a cup of yogurt or hardboiled egg for protein.

Naan pizza with colorful vegatable toppings.

Almond-Crusted Baked Chicken Tenders

  A healthier version of nearly every kid's fave. Pack in a divided or bento-style lunch box with cut-up veggies, fruit and a cup of dipping sauce.

Homemade almond crusted chicken tenders with tomato dipping sauce.

Chicken Chili

When the weather cools down, your kids will be happy to find a thermos of comforting homemade chili packed for lunch.

Chicken chili in a bowl.

Veggie Frittata

Make this ahead of time with your kids' favorite vegetables, and pack or serve with crackers and fruit.

Overview of a frittata in a cast iron skillet.

Baked Apple Chips

A healthy and fun, autumnal alternative to chips or other salty processed snacks. Pack or serve as a side with a sandwich to turn a simple lunch into a back-to-school season treat.

A bowl of homemade baked apple chips, with fresh fall apples in the background.
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