In millions of homes from coast to coast, parents are about to begin the often dreaded ritual of packing their children lunches for school.  As you or any mother who has packed her share of lunches can attest, it’s not just a matter of throwing together a quick meal to-go. It’s the challenge of creating a meal that kids will eat and mom or dad (or the sitter) can actually feel good about sending. And the real zinger… it has to be created again and again for an entire school year, which means you  need more than just a handful of ideas that work.

Thanks to mom bloggers, parenting publications, and food and cooking sites, there is no shortage of kid and parent appealing lunchbox ideas out there. We’ve zoned in on Awesome Lunchbox Ideas for Preschoolers, who are often pickiest of the lunchbox toting crowd.

Check out these ideas and visit our Pinterest board for more favorites:

  1. Healthy, protein-packed pasta that can be served for dinner and leftovers saved for tomorrow’s lunch. Mix it up by alternating the veggies and protein combo, and whether you serve it hot, cold or room temp.
  2. Bento-style works especially well for little ones who only need little bites. Use what you have on-hand, including dippable chunks of fruits and veggies with healthy dips like yogurt or hummus; carbs for extra energy;  bites of protein such as hard boiled egg, chicken or cheese; and a tastey bite of sweet.
  3. Freezer smoothies. The ultimate make-ahead meal for on-the-go. Blend your child’s favorite fruits with yogurt, a handful of flax seeds, and some milk, almond, soy or  rice milk, and freeze. Take them out of the freezer at least four hours before lunch for a frosty treat that’s fit to be a meal.
  4. What kid doesn’t love breakfast for lunch!? And who knew how easy this could be? Pack a leftover waffle or pancake, hard boiled egg, a piece of bacon or sliced chicken sausage, and fruit. Milk completes the meal.
  5. Sliced strawberries and goat or cream cheese make a sweet, sunny, open-faced sandwich. This recipe uses strawberry preserves as “glue” and tops it all on a toasted English muffin.

Missed Part 1 and 2 of UrbanSitter’s Back to School Handbook? See the Back to School Style Guide and 3 Tips for Taming the Morning Chaos.

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