Especially if you have picky eaters on board, it can be hard to pin down kid-friendly recipes that translate from the kitchen to the lunchbox. Luckily, Food Network’s guide to Kid-Approved Lunches and Locker-Friendly Foods makes cafeteria glee an everyday affair. These recipes for stackable sandwiches, DIY meals and wholesome desserts are champs in a lunchbox, and they are just the fuel your kids need to get back in the swing of things.
With a recipe like Ellie Krieger’s Rainbows and Butterflies Pasta Salad for Food Network Magazine on hand, it’s a cinch for your kids to “eat the rainbow.” In between bites of whole-wheat bow tie pasta comes corn, edamame, red bell pepper and carrots.
Tyler Florence’s lunchtime comes with a dose of ingenuity: He packs a sandwich, among other things, inside an empty tennis ball canister. Tyler Florence’s Fresh Mozzarella BLT with Pesto on a baguette for FN Magazine easily one-ups the lunch pail.
Forget mindless munching. Pack your kiddos a Take-to-School Taco Bar that requires some fun assembly. Give your kids all the fixings — from tortillas and cheese to speedy homemade guacamole and salsa — so they can have a role in their own lunch.
Especially if your kids’ options at the cafeteria aren’t the healthiest, recipes like Panko Chicken Nuggets meet their kid cravings halfway. Unlike the fast food version, this homemade take is made with simple ingredients like buttermilk and panko. Fry them up at home and pack them for the road.
Because it doesn’t need to be reheated, Food Network Magazine’s Cold Peanut Soba Noodles with Chicken is a lunchtime champ. Shredded rotisserie chicken and a peanut butter-based sauce make this lunch-or-dinner meal a no-fuss production.
Before they head back to class, finish off lunchtime with Food Network Magazine’s DIY Fruit Leather Roll-Ups (pictured above) that are made with actual fruit. Seriously. You chop up fruit and dehydrate it in the oven till it becomes the fruity, gummy deliciousness that screams youth.
For more back-to-school lunch inspiration, check out Chefs’ School Lunch Picks to see Food Network stars’ go-tos for their kids’ school lunches.
Get more back-to-school recipes from friends and family:
Feed Me Phoebe: Easy Shrimp and Corn Chowder with Chives
Weelicious: Easy School Lunches
Virtually Homemade: Brown Bag Pumpkin Chocolate Bars
Back to (Cooking) School: How to Make Quail
Dishin & Dishes: Kid Size Caprese Salad in Five Minutes
Devour: 4 Ways to Shake Up Your Sandwich Routine