Quick and fuss-free is the name of the game here. 

By Ashley Kappel
April 15, 2020
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My kids always eat school lunch, something I love because our cafeteria scratch-cooks and locally sources as much as it can. So now that the kids are home, I’m scrambling not to turn to the classic PB&J every day. I scoured my lists of lunch ideas and came up with a handful you might not have thought of yet.

Meatballs: Easy to make in batches so you can stash them in the freezer, meatballs are the easiest lunch. Serve them plain with mashed potatoes (we prefer Trader Joe’s frozen mashed potatoes, which come in microwavable medallions) or stuff them in a Hawaiian roll for a petit slider. Add tomato sauce, toss in Greek seasoning, or load them up in a hoagie roll for shockingly easy meals that feel different with minimal extra effort.

Snack Lunch: All your kiddo really needs is variety, so serve up a muffin tin or tray with deconstructed favorites and let them go wild. My kids love cheese, crackers, fresh fruit, raw veggies, some form of dip, and peanuts. 

Pita Pizzas: Pizzas sound complicated, messy, and time consuming, but trust me. Break out the pita rounds, grabbed some tasty jarred sauce (we use Rao’s), shredded cheese, and a few toppings, and you’re set. You can microwave them, toast them, or even heat them on a skillet. You remember Bagel Bites, right? Only these won’t burn your mouth as badly.

Quesadillas: I always think quesadillas will take longer than they do. In about three minutes, start to finish, you can have a main that dirties one pan. Pair with fresh fruit and raw veggies and you’ve got a cheesy, filling meal.

Roll-Ups: Lay the possibilities out and let kids go nuts. Mine prefer basic peanut butter roll ups with dried cherries tucked inside, but they’ll also go for meat and cheese roll ups, which their dad and I like too, with the addition of some mustard and lettuce. 

Sliders: Break out the Hawaiian rolls and fill them with meat and cheese, pizza toppings, or mini burgers. When Hawaiian rolls are the main vehicle, you can’t go wrong in our house.

Fries: Hear me out! I have learned that if I take the time to make sweet potato fries, my children will eat anything I pair with them. Leftover meatloaf? Sure. Barbecue on a roll? Sounds good! This magic only works when the protein is served with the fries in our house, so your mileage may vary. 

Breakfast-for-Lunch: If your household has slow risers who graze on cereal, take advantage of that and serve up scrambled eggs with bacon or sausage for lunch. In less than 10 minutes, you can have it all on the table and the pans wiped clean, especially if you use this brilliant tool. 

Muffins: Serve up tiny quiches loaded with eggs, sausage, and veggies. Bake these ahead and freeze them, then simply nuke for a minute or so before serving. Pair with cut cantaloupe smiles and you’ve got a cute meal in no time.