Kids in the Kitchen: Back to School Breakfast and Lunch Favorites!

Back-to-School Breakfast & Lunch FavoriLoads of healthy and delicious back-to-school breakfast and lunch ideas your kids will love!

Many, many years ago when I was a little girl…

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, was a favorite book of mine.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, Frances is a bear who wants to eat nothing other than bread and jam for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Meanwhile, her friend Albert brings fancy lunches to school everyday that would make any hungry little bear want to eat more than bread and jam. His mother even packs him a linen napkin and a cardboard shaker of salt to go with his hard boiled egg.  Ultimately Frances tires of bread and jam, and asks her mother to pack her a fancy lunch as well, which includes “a thermos bottle with cream of tomato soup, and a lobster salad sandwich on thin slices of white bread.”

Naturally, I asked my mother to make me a special lunch too, complete with lobster salad sandwich, a linen napkin, a shaker of salt, and even a hard-boiled egg.

Never mind that while I like EVERY other manner of eggs possible, I DO NOT LIKE hard boiled eggs.

If Frances ate it, then I was going to eat it!

My mother, being the wonderful mom that she is, did pack me that very special lunch, and to this day it still brings back wonderful memories for me.

Thanks Mom :-)

Me, circa 19__ …….

Flash forward many years, and my KITK kids are getting ready to go back to school on Monday, so I thought it would be fun to share some of THEIR favorite lunches, plus some breakfast favorites as well, because sending kids off to school with food in their tummies is just as important as eating a good lunch is to help them concentrate and do well in school.

Let’s start with breakfast…

NOTE: I offer both”regular” and “gluten-free” suggestions here. Also, I promise you that ALL of these options are pretty quick and easy {some are make ahead and freeze meals}, so no excuses not to eat a good breakfast or lunch!

Some days, my kids start their mornings off with their “coffee” alternative: Chocolate milk {Yes, I do let my kids have 1 glass of chocolate milk per day, but I like making it at home so I can control the amount of sugar that’s in it.}

Easy breakfast favorites…

  • Cheesy Eggs or Omelettes: My kids have become master omelette makers and have even taught their friends how to make omelettes! Serve with fresh fruit and a slice of your favorite whole grain or gluten-free bread, or in a corn, whole wheat or gluten-free tortilla. We all love corn tortillas, plus my kids love Trader Joes organic whole wheat & olive oil tortillas, and I love Rudy’s gluten-free tortillas.
  • Vanilla Cinnamon Banana Oats:  Cook your favorite regular or gluten-free oats in vanilla soy milk or vanilla almond milk and cinnamon which adds a nice touch of sweetness. Serve with sliced bananas on top.
  • Apple and Brown Rice Cereal: A kid favorite ~ Recipe here
  • Pumpkin Cinnamon Pancakes: Add 1/2 can of pumpkin and 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon to your favorite pancake batter. Top with chocolate chips and serve with fruit of choice. For busy weekday mornings, my favorite gluten-fre pancake mixes are Bob’s Red Mill & Pure Pantry.
  • Fruity French Toast:  Dip bread of choice, such as Rudy’s or Udi’s Gluten-Free bread in egg/milk/vanilla mixture.  Saute chopped up fresh or frozen fruit in a little coconut oil, plus a dash of maple syrup or honey, and serve on top of french toast.  Add coconut flakes and/or chopped nuts if desired.
  • Bananas Foster Yogurt Parfait: Recipe hereYou can use your favorite granola or this yummy tropical granola in place of the walnut/flax mixture in the recipe.
  • Choco Nutty Waffles: Make your own favorite waffle recipe {this is my new gluten-free favorite} and freeze ahead or try  Vans Gluten-Free Frozen Waffles or Nature’s Path Frozen Buckwheat Waffles.  Top with dark chocolate chips, and spread your kids favorite nut butter on top.  Serve with fruit.
  • Muffin Love: Make up a batch of these yummy Blueberry Streusel Muffins the night before, slice ‘em in half and top with nut butter, cottage or ricotta cheese.  Serve with fruit.
  • Dessert for Breakfast aka Fruit Crisp: Choose from Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal CrispOatmeal Chia Berry Crisp, or create your own fruit crisp combination!  Each individual crisp has one serving of fruit, plus fiber, and very little added sugar.  Serve with 2 % plain Greek yogurt, and your kids will be happy all day long!
  • Smoothies! The possibilities are endless here, but my basic smoothie recipe consists of any combo of fresh or frozen fruit + liquid {dairy/non-dairy/or juice} + protein {whey powder, egg white powder, or Greek Yogurt} + healthy fat and extra fiber if desired {nuts/nut butter/chia seeds/ground flax/avocado}.  Check out my recipe index for lots of smoothie recipes, including these kid favorites: Banana Spice MilkshakeBlueberry Orange Kale SmoothieFresh Apple Pie SmoothiePBJ SmoothieRainbow Power Smoothie and Simple Strawberry Smoothie.

Fresh Apple Pie Smoothie // The Spicy RDA fresh apple pie smoothie a day keeps the teacher happy!

Easy Lunch Favorites…

NOTE: If you don’t have one, go out and buy a Thermos now!  This old fashioned container will provide you with limitless lunch possibilities!

  • Sandwiches! Turkey, Cheese, Tomato, & Avocado…Nut Butter and “J” or “H” {honey}
  • Pasta: Pasta with marinara and ricotta cheese {one of SiSi’s all-time favorites}…Pasta w/ meatballs or meat sauce…Pasta salad w/ tomatoes, carrots, olives, and cheese…
  • Mac and cheese I’ll admit to using a “box” on occasion, usually Amy’s or Annie’s, but mainly my kids prefer homemade now.  Make up a big batch of your favorite and freeze. My favorite recipes include this Macaroni Cheese and Carrots, or this more indulgent recipe from Gluten-Free Girl.
  • Apple and Brown Rice Cereal See breakfast ideas above.
  • Banana’s Foster Yogurt Parfait See breakfast ideas above.
  • Chili!  Love Heidi’s Award Winning Chili recipe.
  • Soup!  My kids love Chicken Noodle, but I hope to expand their soup repertoire this year!
  • Bean and Cheese “Burrito”: Heat up beans and cheese and place in Thermos.  Serve a corn or whole wheat tortilla on the side so kids can roll up their own burrito at school.
  • Pizza: I can whip up a pizza in the morning using Udi’s frozen gluten-free crust, marinara, and mozzarella or other cheese of choice in less than 10 minutes.  Use a whole wheat English muffin for a “regular” option.  Add olives or other veggies/toppings of choice if desired.
  • Eggs!  Try making a batch of my Amazingly Addictive Artichoke Squares & freeze ahead for lunches, or try these yummy Ham & Cheese Quinoa Cups.  AND, yes, even though I don’t like ‘em, my kids do, so Hard Boiled Eggs make a easy, nutritious lunch entree :-)

Love these artichoke squares!

So there you have it…

These are just a few of SiSi and Big Tex’s favorite breakfast and lunch ideas.

I’d LOVE for you to share your own kid’s {or YOURS if you don’t have any kiddos!}quick, easy, and healthy breakfast and lunch ideas here too!

And, before I head off to tend to my kids “last couple of day’s before school starts” requests {beach…pool…}I want to leave you with a little gift :-) 

I created a school lunch planner last year when I got tired of hearing my kids complain about what I packed them for lunch. {Oh, yes, even my kids complain about their lunches and sometimes bring home lunch boxes full of uneaten food.  Drives me crazy!!!}  

If your kids are old enough, they can fill out this lunch planner themselves each week.  You may change it to acommodate your kids’ own favorite foods, or use it as is. If your kids are too young to plan their own lunches, you can use this as a guideline to plan healthy, balanced lunches for them. The number of servings for each category are listed on the menu plan.  That is what I pack my my kids, but you may adjust accordingly depending upon the age and appetites of your own children!

As with all the meals and snacks I make for my family, I like lunches to have a balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats.  I find this approach to meal planning helps provide my kiddos with lasting energy, promotes satiety {so we can go at least a couple of hours before I hear “Mom! I’m hungry!}, and helps prevent crashes in blood sugar {I think we all know that low blood sugar=crabby kids!}

Click below to get your lunch planner!

School Lunch Planner 

Plus, here are some other great links to check out for school lunch and breakfast ideas!

Happy Back to School!!!

Did you read Bread and Jam with Frances as a kid?  Do you remember your favorite school lunch when you were young?  If you have kids, what are their favorite quick/easy/healthy breakfast and school lunch meals?  What about your own favorites???

As always, I love hearing from you! Please join the conversation, and, if you enjoyed the post, I’d love it {and truly appreciate it!} if you stumble, tweet, pin, or share the post.  And, if you haven’t done so already, be sure and sign up for my monthly newsletter, Delicious News for all things healthy and delicious!

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Comments

  1. Oh..EA..you have reduced my morning stress of planning and packing lunch boxes for my kids :) Thanks for all the wonderful and healthy links.

  2. Great ideas and an absolutely adorable photo :)

  3. You’ve got a great list of meals for kids and adults alike ;) We experimented today and made gluten free pancakes from a box and they were actually pretty good. We are trying to eat less and less gluten cause it makes us sluggish!

    Happy Cooking!

  4. I need to get my hands on this Bread and Jam book…sound like my kind of bear! Love the list, even if I don’t have kids, they are yummy choices for myself!

  5. I have never heard of that book, but must look into it. I collect childen’s books…I have no kids…yet collect children’s books…may be weird I guess, LOL! {I can say they are for my niece, HAHAHA!} I was honestly a big fan of Mother Hubbard stories. You ready for this, my favorite lunch, I basically took almost everyday….a jelly and butter sandwich on whole wheat….yup jelly and butter. I am not a big lover of peanut butter remember? I am weird, LOL! Love your ideas for lunches, they look fantastic! I need to try your artichoke bars ASAP! Hugs, Terra

  6. Wonderful book and wonderful memories! I like all of your lunch and breakfast ideas!

    I try to be creative with lunch and involve the toddler as much as possible as he quickly gets tired of foods. So I always switch up the veggies and fruits in his lunch box. He enjoys veggie/pasta salad, rice dishes (which he eats cold), and, cheese cubes and crackers.

  7. What an incredibly thorough and inclusive round-up! I love your bananas foster yogurt parfait. Quite unique! Thanks so much for sharing my post with your readers.

  8. Love the childhood pic – that is adorable! And, thanks again for the lunch planner – so super helpful!

  9. i love the idea of making a lunch planner! you are a genius! i’m gonna do that with my future family one day :D. what are your kid’s weekly favorites? did they have similar menu suggestions? when i was little, all i really wanted was a peanut butter jelly sandwich or a turkey sandwich. nothing schmancy. :)

    • Thanks Junia! My kids go through phases with their favorites. Right now turkey, cheese, and tomato sandwiches are a fave, but I do like to mix it up too. PB and J’s always a hit too :-)

  10. Great tips! my son is in pre pre-school and it’s all year long so I’m not feeling the back-to-school rush… thanks for putting it together! I’ll definitely share. I use whole wheat thin burger buns for a quick mini-pizza base. I find it to be less messy than English muffins. My son loves beans, so I mix some with cheese and leave them cold and he likes to scoop them with tortilla chips, and I send diced avocado in a separate container.

    • Thanks Nour! Love the idea of the thin hamburger buns for mini pizzas! I’d love to pack avocado for my kids in their lunch, but always think it will turn brown. Do you have the problem? Hmm…maybe I could add a little lemon juice…

  11. I *loved* “Bread and Jam for Frances” when I was a child and read it to my children when they were younger. (Loved the other Frances books too!)

    My kids generally pack their own lunches now (at 9 & 12) but I supervise after I found that they were packing the weirdest combinations without a fruit or veggie! My daughter doesn’t like sandwiches so we get creative with things for her to take. Hummus and veggies and chips is a favorite. I bake and freeze things in individual containers for the kids to take in lunches. (low fat ham & cheese scones are a favorite – my kids are not vegans.)

    As a teacher I’m working on making sure I have healthy lunches packed for me as well. I’m hosting a blog carnival until Sept 20 about healthy vegan lunchboxes for adults so if anyone is interested please join us.

    I love your lunch planning guide! Thanks so much!

    Jen

  12. What a great story! Thanks for sharing that memory.
    Love your suggestions! I am always looking for new ideas myself so this is great!

  13. Brought back memories with that book!! I can remember my mom reading it to me when I was little too =) Great idea with the menu planner. I’ve been so frustrated too because I’ll open my sons lunch when we get home and darned if his whole sandwich is still in the bag. Then again I can remember throwing away my lunch at school so I guess I would rather him bring it home than throw it away!!

  14. Great list. I have to try some of your breakfast options. I have a new G free pancake mix to try for those pumpkin pancakes. All I know is my mom used to pack cream cheese and jelly in my lunch and maybe Frances would’ve liked it but I sure didn’t.

  15. My favorite quick and easy breakfast are overnight oats, they really keep you going.

  16. wow so many delicious ideas for healthy lunches.. Love to check them out often :)

  17. Love the breakfast ideas. Breakfast is my favorite! I could eat typical breakfast foods all day long. I love to have omelets for dinner. Thanks for the lunch suggestions too. I think we will be eating lunch home more often so I need to think about what I can whip up for us.

  18. This post made me laugh – the one thing my brother has always been able to make is an omlet and me…well, it’s one of the few things I am hoooorrrrible at making! I guess I just didn’t start young enough with the practice :)

  19. oh great ideas and your mum rocks

  20. Forget back to school….I’m taking these ideas for my own lunchbox! Thanks for sharing!

  21. EA – Your pic is adorable! What a brilliantly engaging and informative post. And your School Lunch Planner form makes my organization-loving heart happy. So glad you posted again!

  22. what a round up EA- pumpkin pancakes haven’t done in a while and why didn’t I think of vanilla milk in oats (add vanilla extract but like your idea).

  23. SO glad you reposted this on twitter!! I really needed this list of yummies and resources. xoxo
    -Patti

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