Meal Prep Quick and Healthy Lunches for School

5 min to read
A parent and child prepping meals together for school.

Finding and prepping quick and healthy lunches for kids can be a challenge. Instead of looking at meal prep and healthy lunches as a chore, look at them as a way for your student to build kitchen and planning skills.

While you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to ideas, a little out-of-the-box thinking will go a long way. We’re going to share some meal-prepping tips and 6 lunch ideas to help you get things cooking in the kitchen.

Meal-Prepping Tips for Healthy School Lunches

1. Don’t Use Too Many Ingredients

Kids (and many adults) get overwhelmed when they see a recipe with too many ingredients. If you truly want to prep quick lunches, look for ideas that don’t have a laundry list of ingredients. These will not only be easier to make but will also be more likely to keep your student’s interest in helping.

2. Look to Your Leftovers

Nothing is quicker than repurposing food you’ve already made. Do you have leftover grilled chicken from dinner? Use that for a salad for tomorrow’s lunch. This is not only cost-effective but will also save time and cut down on food waste.

3. Choose Healthy Items Your Student Likes

Nothing wastes more time than making food your student doesn’t eat and then having to think of something else to make. Include healthy foods your student likes to eat as part of your meal prep plan. This will make the planning, shopping, and prepping process easier for everyone.

4. Let Them Do as Much of the Work as Possible

Depending on their age, let your student do as much of the prepping and planning as possible. This will not only teach them valuable skills in the kitchen but will also help to build self-confidence that they created something delicious.

6 Quick and Healthy Lunch Ideas for School

1. Breakfast for Lunch

Who said pancakes and waffles are only for breakfast? Pick your favorite and whip up a batch ahead of time and have them ready to go for lunch. If there are leftovers, you can save them for breakfast the next morning. Some people also choose to freeze their pancakes or waffles so they can heat them up in the toaster whenever they want.

Educational Challenge: When you and your student are making pancakes or waffles, let them do the measuring. You can ask a couple of quick mathematical questions, like which is bigger, ¾ of a cup or ¼ of a cup? You can also see if they can divide the batch evenly if you’re choosing to freeze any leftovers. 

2. Pasta Salad Boxes

Just because your student is home doesn’t mean you can’t “pack a lunch.” Grab a square or rectangular container and make pasta salad boxes. Besides the pasta, let your student be creative and add whatever other ingredients they like. Olives, salami, peppers, tomatoes, cheese... add as many items as you can fit in the box. Get this done the night before, refrigerate it, and you’re good to go for lunch the next day. 

Since you’re cooking more than one portion of pasta at a time, you can make several pasta salad boxes for the week. Be sure your student takes the reins when it comes to deciding what their pasta bowl will include. Make them different so that they have something to look forward to each day. No one likes having the same thing for lunch every day!

3. Rainbow Veggie Wraps

Adults know they sometimes must hide veggies to get kids to eat them. Disguising them in a wrap with other tasty food is a terrific way to get this done.  

Prep several veggie wraps for the week with a variety of ingredients. Some things to include may be cheese, hummus, peppers, or cucumbers. When your kids are part of the prepping process, they may realize that veggies are not public enemy number one and can actually make food exciting. 

Educational Challenge: See how many different colored foods your student can include in their wrap. This activity is best suited for younger children.

4. Strawberry & Yogurt Parfaits

Parfaits are a go-to for many kids and adults because you can prepare a bunch ahead of time, stick them in the fridge, and grab them when you’re ready. All you need is some fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, and crunchy granola. Let your student choose a couple of different types of fruit. Strawberries, blueberries, and mangos are some of the more popular choices.

5. Quesadillas

Quesadillas are an easy lunch that can be stuffed with just about anything. Spinach, cheese, beans, and even apples and honey, can be part of your quesadilla creation. They can be made ahead of time and heated up when you want to eat them. You may not want to make too many ahead of time, so they don’t get soggy in the fridge.

Educational Challenge: Test your student’s triangle knowledge by asking them to cut their quesadilla into different triangle shapes. 

Meal prepping and planning with your student is not only a smart way to have more time for learning, but also an opportunity to spend time together in the kitchen and teach valuable skills. Life skills, like meal prepping and planning, are also an important part of the learning process for students of all ages.

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