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School Lunches from the Kitchen

September is here with all of its joy of new school clothes and school supplies for the kids, while parents make renewed resolutions for organization toward a healthy and happy family lifestyle. I am a Grammy now, with all of that behind me, but still so clear in my memory. In fact, I have vivid memories of the lunches my mom packed for me and today, when I have thermos tea along with a ham, lettuce and mayo sandwich on a bun, my mind goes right back to my school desk at Sir James Douglas Elementary. The sandwich was always neatly wrapped in wax paper with a unique fold on top. If lunches can have such a lasting impact on a person, I like to think that it's food, not only for the body, but for the mind and soul. Maybe this is why I still like to help out my kids with a bag of pizza buns or pinwheels to put into the freezer, knowing that moms just get way too busy to keep up . . . and again, it's toward more than food for the body.

A variety of homemade buns, rolls, cookies and  muffins will take a few hours of focused time to prepare but will go a long way toward stress free lunch packing for the next month. All of the suggested recipes freeze well and are ready to pack into a lunch bag along with some veggies, yogurt, cheese and fruit.

With this post I just want to share a few favorite ideas. I'll add the links and more suggestions.

The pizza buns are made with a quick French bread dough, pizza sauce, cheese and bacon bits. One recipe makes about 30 buns. The banana chocolate chip muffins make a nice treat in miniature size for younger kids.

These sausage rolls are posted as a recipe on my personal blog, but I will give you the method here quick. You will need half of a skinny farmer sausage, quartered lengthwise, so that you have four long strips of sausage. Then, using 3 cups of the  the Basic Large Biscuit Mix, mix in 1 egg and 1 cup buttermilk. Roll it out to about 16 X 12 inches and divide it into four strips to roll the sausage up in. Cut these long rolled up sausage strips into small segments to make two dozen sausage rolls. Bake at 400 F about 15 minutes or until golden. The treat in this lunch is a mini chocolate zucchini muffin.

Cheese stuffed breadsticks are also made with French Bread dough. I made these with half whole wheat, half unbleached white flour. The recipe makes 24 to 32 bread sticks.

Maybe you have someone who prefers salads to sandwiches. A favorite pasta salad is a great idea. I added some left over rotisserie chicken into this lunch and some raisin oatmeal cookies which I have not posted, but there are a lot of cookies on this site to choose from. Plain mini meatballs (without the glaze or sauce) are also good in a lunch.

I was sure I had posted this quiche, but found out it's one I can still do in the future. A friend of mine told me her grandchildren love taking quiche in their lunch. They are easy to prepare. You can use frozen pastry tarts and simply fill them about 3/4 full with your choice of quiche filling. Bake at 400 F about 20 minutes.

Bev's Ham and cheese pinwheels have become a favorite just in this past year. If you love to roll out pastry and play with it, this is for you. These treats are a bit of work but very rewarding as the recipe makes about 60 pinwheels. Pop them frozen into a lunch bag and they will be good at noon. I use the cooked ham that comes cut square (375 g package) and quarter each slice for the perfect size on each pinwheel square. You can use only cheese if you like. If your school is not a peanut free zone, try the rice crispy chocolate rolls for a treat. Dried mango or apple slices might be something your kids like.

Biscuits, along with a few favorite things to nibble on may be a nice change for some. Split them to add butter or jam.

And last but not least, an old family stand by, are plain or whole wheat buns for sandwiches. Shape them large for bigger sandwiches or small, almost touching when you put them on the pan, so that they turn out more like a soft roll. Some kids love the "no crust" feel. Slice them before freezing, so that they can be filled on the day of, while frozen. If you want to minimize processed meats, use egg or tuna salad, homemade roast beef, chicken or ham. Home cooked meat is easiest to slice thinly once cooled.

I hope that lunch making can be an enjoyable time for whoever prepares it. Sometimes parents need for their kids to prepare their own lunch but again, to eliminate stress, prepare or delegate someone to peel and chop vegetables once a week and keep them in sealed containers with a bit of water. Ripen fruit on the counter, then wash and put in fridge when good to go. Have sandwich options and snacks readily available. If you pack a lunch and find out it does not get eaten, find out what needs changing. Sometimes younger children just feel like they do not have enough time to eat. Some like to know what is in their lunch in order to look forward to it. Some like a surprise. Know your own child to work toward a happy lunch experience. One day this too will only be a memory.

For more ideas, try a search of cheese straws, muffins, pizza muffins, vegetable muffins,wiener rolls, meat buns, baked oatmeal, cookies or school lunches in the recipe search window near the top of the sidebar.


  1. What a wonderful post, Anneliese.....from the wonderful recipes, to the cheery helpful photos, to the bits of perspective from one of the youngest-looking grandmoms, I could be clapping *loudly* except my household is still asleep! Our wee one is about to turn 30!, so I no longer pack lunches, but I think you just rescued many many many households from any semblance of "old hat" at lunchtime. Thank you! B/North

  2. Love it!! I want you to pack lunch for me :-)

  3. What a great post! My children are all grown now but I am thinking this would be great for me to make ahead. Even though I am retired, it would be healthier for me to have items like that ready and portioned. I like the variety in the containers too. I want to get some of those containers and have some meals ready in the frig. Thank you so much...this is a great idea for seniors who don't need to be ingesting lots of calories anymore as we're not working as hard as we used to and of course we all need to eat as healthy as possible.

  4. I pack lunch most days for myself and love this post!

  5. Thanks ever so much for all the wonderfully inspired lunch ideas, as well as the beautiful accompanying photos! Beautiful job, Anneliese, and as I am still a lunch-packer, I appreciate this all so much! Have a lovely day and keep posting!

  6. Your packaging of the lunch containers are very appetizing.
    I too remember the carefully folded waxed paper covering my school sandwiches. You have brought back a special memory for me.
    Wonderful lunch ideas Anneliese, for the grandchildren as well as for many of us. Your pictures of each lunch box are really colorful. Just beautiful.

  7. Super post. While I don't have children, it's livened up my ideas and taste buds, and motivated me to pack more varied, balanced and nutritious lunches to take to the office. Thank you.

  8. This is an awesome post and must have taken a lot of planning and preparation. Thank you, Anneliese

  9. SO well done, Anneliese, I know this will a 'go-to' post for many lunch-making-moms!
    When my daughter was in elementary school she was given the award for 'having the best lunches' !
    but I think your lunches easily win over mine !! :-)

  10. As many of you moms did, I packed lunches for my kids all through school and found it fun although it was sometimes challenging to come up with new ideas. Your ideas are great Anneliese and so well documented in luscious looking photos. One thing I would add to your list would be wraps. They were a nice change to the bread and buns and could be filled with anything - peanut butter and jam, cold meat, cream cheese and finely chopped veggies, egg salad......
    Thanks for a great post!

  11. Fabulous lunch packing ideas Annaleise! The fact that you peeled the oranges and sectioned the apples will ensure that the little ones will eat them - brilliant. Such a nice variety of foods in each lunch.

  12. This has to be my all time favorite post - thanks so much!! Definitely a challenge to keep variety in a lunch, when you pack so many. My son is picky when it comes to eating things at the right temperature. This can be a challenge to figure out. I've been freezing yogurt tubes,etc, to allow them to thaw by lunch so they're still cold. Are all the "hot items" like quiche and sausage rolls eaten cold? Or would it work to put these things in a thermos? I wonder if the dough would get soggy?

    1. Hi Sonya, my thoughts were that all of these rolls, quiche and sandwiches could be eaten cold. The sausage rolls end up being like a sandwich. I had second thoughts about the quiche but then I tried it cold one day with a salad, and it was great. I prefer the pizza warmed, but it is just fine cold as well. Some classrooms may have a microwave. I would prefer that to a thermos, but you could try heating the pizza or quiche and put it in a soup thermos. Let us know how that works.

  13. What delicacies! Dutch children take a few slices of brown bread ) 2-4) with cheece for lunch and an apple. Gingerbread for the break. I like this post because it opens my eyes for variety in a lunch. Its very special.

    But my son is coming home at twelve o'clock to eat. Then he cycles back to school.

  14. I have to agree with Sonya, I think this is my favorite post so far. I pack school lunches every day and these ideas are a great help and encouragement. Beautiful appetizing photos. Many thanks Anneliese!

  15. Thanks Anneliese! I'll have to try some of these in a thermos and see - thanks!


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