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Simple Back To School Budget Lunch Ideas

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Since our son will be starting junior kindergarten, this September I thought it would be fitting to start a small series on Back to School Lunch Ideas and tips for parents.

back to school lunch ideas nut-free
Back To School Lunch Ideas That Are Nut-Free

Easy Back To School Lunch Ideas

We are first-time parents sending our children to school, so we don’t know what to expect.

However, what we have learned comes from one school meeting, online research, and random chit-chat with other parents.

Sending your child off to school, especially for the first time, can be terrifying for parents.

Some children are equally nervous because school is new to the environment, teachers, and children.

If your child regularly visited a daycare for the first years of their lives, then perhaps this type of scenario may be similar.

However, for the kiddos who did not, it’s an entirely new ball game.

Daycare Feedback For Back To School Lunch Ideas

Since Mrs. CBB stays home with our son, we decided late last year to put him in daycare one day a week.

The reasoning behind that was to get him used to the process of going to school.

Surprisingly the most important part of daycare has been consistency.

Our daycare provider offers a school-like schedule with snack breaks and lunch along with indoor and outdoor activities.

We also found that our son eats different foods offered by his daycare provider, which has given us school lunch ideas for September.

At home, our son is different, and as much as we want to keep him on a schedule, it tends to fall apart.

So far, his daycare experience has been great with expected ups and downs, but he loves going and has made new friends.

Our main goals with daycare were to give him responsibility, a new environment, and an opportunity to be given options from someone else.

We’ve recently ramped up daycare to 2 days a week since we are one month away from the start of junior kindergarten.

Food Allergies And Nut Free Lunches

One of the biggest challenges over the past almost four years has been to feed our son because he’s not a big eater, and when he does eat, it involves some foods he can’t bring to school.

Luckily for us, our son is simple with food, but he does love his milk, something we’ve been trying to cut back on a bit, so he eats more food.

It works from time to time, but drinking is a favourite thing to do.

We must pack a nut-free lunch!!

Nut-free was not new to us, but it certainly put a wedge in our menu plan for our little guy because peanut butter is King in our house.

At our school, the teachers post a list of food allergies in the school and classroom.

The teachers ask the parents not to include these items in the lunch for kids to protect the other children.

I’m on board with this because I’d be terrified if I were a parent of a child with a life-threatening allergy.

Talk to your child’s teacher or school administration about school allergies and lunches if you’re unsure.

Simple Lunch Boxes For Kids

Bentgo lunch box
Bentgo lunch box

Now that we are four weeks away from day 1 of Junior Kindergarten, we started thinking about lunch ideas for our son.

We purchased a vast Roots backpack and Roots lunch box from Costco for a reasonable price which came in under $30.

Other popular options are Yumbox, Bento boxes, Bentgo, Planet Box, Tupperware lunch boxes, and Rubbermaid Lunch Bloks.

Many lunch box brands are available, so it’s essential to find one that fits your child.

Some of these lunchboxes can be pricey; however, they last long, protect lunches and have no spills.

I’ll be doing another post on lunch box and bag ideas along with costs, but for us, we went strictly inexpensive and functional.

Healthy School Lunch Ideas For Kids

Kids helping mom in the kitchen preparing school lunch ideas
Kids helping mom in the kitchen preparing food

Healthy lunches for kids are essential to everyone involved with the child, from educators to parents.

She provides very healthy meals and snacks for our son at daycare but with small amounts and options.

Her sons love Lunchables, including crackers, deli meat, cheese, and a treat, most often a small chocolate bar.

Although we’re not fans of feeding our child chocolate every day, we opt for fresh fruit and bake homemade snacks such as sugar-free cookies or brownies.

On occasion, we buy a bag of Oreo cookies or let him choose a pack of cookies from the grocery store.

Once, we purchased a Lunchable to try, which he wasn’t a fan of eating the crackers or the cheese.

Although, he did eat the deli meat and the chocolate bar, which was not a surprise.

The important thing that we noticed was that he liked the little compartment lunch idea and that it was the perfect amount of food for him.

Last month we found a brand-new Rubbermaid bento-style lunch box at Value Village for $2.99, so we bought it.

The reason was to introduce our son to the lunch box idea to get him ready for back to school.

In a way, it reminded us of the Lunchable, so we considered all the types of foods we could put into each little section that he might eat.

If your child loves Lunchables, add crackers, cheese wedges, grapes, hard-boiled egg slices, bacon, sliced deli-meats that they enjoy, and away they go.

Adding Seasonal Fruits For School Lunches

Instead of adding a sweet treat, opt for seasonal fruits such as cherries, apples, pears, peaches, watermelon chunks, plums, bananas, etc.

School Lunch Ideas: Sandwiches and Wraps

Sliced raw red, yellow and green peppers for back to school lunch ideas.
Sliced raw red, yellow and green peppers

If you find that you need to add a sandwich or tortilla wrap because it’s not enough food, consider healthy sandwich ideas such as;

  • Ham and Cheese
  • Egg salad
  • Chicken salad
  • Tuna salad
  • Salami and cheese
  • Plain cheese sandwich
  • Mashed Chickpea and Avocado
  • Vegetables and Cream Cheese
  • Bologne and Cheese
  • Club Sandwich With bacon, cheese, tomato
  • Fried Egg and Cheese
  • Meatball and Cheese
  • Italian Sausage
  • Chicken Bacon Ranch
  • Cold Grilled Cheese

If you’re not a fan of store-bought mayonnaise, you can make healthier versions at home without all the added preservatives.

Fairy Sandwich

Sometimes it’s just a matter of texture or shape, as in this case which is why the fairy sandwiches have been popular lunch ideas.

fairy sandwiches
A Fairy Sandwich

Some parents will shape sandwiches with cutters or cut the crusts off for their child to eat their lunch.

Do what’s best for your child and stuff, cut and create the best sandwiches filled with their favourites.

Homemade Italian Pizza For School Lunches

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza

So much better than take-out pizza Mr. CBB's easy pizza recipe
Mr. CBB’s easy pizza recipe

Bacon, Bacon, Bacon

I know our son is a huge fan of cold pizza, and when we make homemade pizza, we make extra for the next day.

Another great recipe is homemade cheesy pizza buns which are easy to pack in a lunch box.

Easy Snack Ideas To Pack In Your Child’s Lunch

Another snack our son loves is bacon, baked pepperoni chips and crispy salami chips.

He is not a huge fan of bread, but when he does eat it, there has to be something on it, such as butter or bacon. Simple kid, I guess.

Consider adding greens such as kale, spinach, baby romaine along with spreads or dips such as hummus, ranch dip, or tzatziki.

Once in a while, our little guy will eat tortilla chips that are homemade pita bread cut into wedges and baked crisp in the oven.

He loves to dip them in homemade avocado taco dip that he easily can transport to school in a lunch box.

Healthy Sandwich Fillers

Sliced seedless cucumbers for back to school lunch ideas
Sliced seedless cucumbers

Also, consider the following as fillers for sandwiches and mixing up the types of bread you offer, such as pumpernickel or homemade tortillas.

  • grated carrots
  • zucchini sliced paper thin
  • red cabbage sliced thin
  • alfalfa sprouts
  • onion sprouts
  • sliced apples
  • cucumber slices
  • lettuce

Our son loves cucumbers, cream cheese, and bacon together in a mini sandwich.

Another favourite our son enjoys is whole wheat tortilla wraps with bananas, cream cheese, and sugar-free strawberry rhubarb chia jam.

You could also make tortilla rolls with cream cheese, lunch meats, roll, chill, and slice.

Another favourite might be tacos or even think of breakfast waffles for lunch.

Bagels are a great alternative to the traditional lunch sandwich made with sliced bread.

A bagel sandwich filled with deli meats, cheeses and vegetables is popular with kids.

Various varieties of bagels
Homemade Bagels or Store-bought Bagels

Creating a list of what foods your child will eat for lunch is a great way to keep organized.

However, It’s always great to introduce your child to new foods even if you think they won’t like them.

You might be amazed to find out; they do like it.

I remember we were shocked the day our son devoured a bowl of Bolognese pasta that was penne-shaped.

He was shovelling that pasta in his mouth so fast as if he hadn’t eaten for days.

However, he has never been interested in other pasta recipes, Kraft Dinner, or noodles in a sauce that comes in a can.

Another shock was how much he loves cold pasta, so we make big bowls of tuna pasta salad even though he doesn’t know it’s fish.

Sending Hot Meals To School For Lunch

Last year, we purchased a small Thermos brand container with a spoon on top, perfect for hot meals.

The Thermos will come in handy in the fall and winter to send children pasta, soup, or chili.

I’ve even sent our son with a grilled cheese sandwich which he has no issues eating cold.

Owning one is undoubtedly an intelligent option for parents who want to send leftovers from dinner with their child to school the next day.

Most elementary schools don’t offer microwaves for the kids to warm up meals, so having a thermos is a great way to enjoy a hot lunch without any hassles.

Snacks For Kids That Are Nut-Free

yogurt and raspberries perfect for back to school lunch ideas.
Yogurt and Raspberries

Easy Back To School Snack ideas this is another blog post, but to add a few examples that we will offer our son come this September;

  • Yogurt or yogurt drinks
  • Rice cakes
  • Popcorn
  • Pudding
  • Unsweetened apple sauce
  • Fruit pots
  • Fruit bread such as banana bread, zucchini bread (with or without chocolate chips)
  • Nut-free granola bars
  • Pickles or Sweet Pickles
  • Olives
  • String Cheese
  • Nut-free cookies
  • Fresh fruits
  • Raw veggies and dip
  • Pepperettes
  • Pepperoni Chips
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Muffins such as Orange and Carrot breakfast muffins
  • Tortilla chips and dip
  • Trail mix with dried fruits, cereals and raisins

Back To School Drink Bottles

Stick to water, unsweetened juice, chocolate milk, milk, or yogurt drinks when sending drinks.

If you send drinks bottles, ensure they are sealed so they don’t leak.

We are fans of the Auto-Seal, Spill-Proof Contigo bottles, but many options are available for parents.

School Lunch Box Recipes

back to school lunch ideas and recipes.

Lunch recipes for kids come in all shapes, sizes, and flavours.

I wanted to highlight a few that I found on Pinterest, which are good lunch ideas for back to school.

School Lunch Ideas and Tips For Parents

lunch box ideas
Wood Cutting Board With Bread, Spring Onions and Kielbasa Slices
Wood Cutting Board With Bread, Spring Onions and Kielbasa Slices
  • Talk to the school if you aren’t sure what foods are or are not allowed.
  • Prepare a lunch meal plan that includes school lunch ideas that your child helps create
  • Involve your children in picking out foods they like to eat
  • Involve your kids at the grocery store to familiarize them with the shopping process
  • Have your children help prepare their lunch
  • Add greens and other produce separate in the lunch box
  • Always pack the lunch bag just before leaving the house and not the night before storing it in the refrigerator.
  • Wash and clean the lunch box every day after school with hot soapy water.
  • Cook extra at dinner so you have leftovers to create or switch it up
  • Send utensils as needed with your child along with napkins or wipes for easy clean-up
  • Always include fruits and vegetables
  • Label your child’s lunch bag with fill-in Mabel’s Labels (we custom ordered labels with our son’s name on them straight from Mabel’s Labels) or other waterproof labels so the right lunch box arrives home each night.
  • Don’t be afraid to add sweet treats on occasion for your child because they are kids. Some favourites might be homemade cookies, granola bars, or store-bought.
  • If you include yogurt, milk, and puddings as school lunch ideas make sure to send an ice-pack or purchase an insulated lunch box with an ice-pack if possible.

We’re trying not to get nervous about school lunch ideas for the school year; however, it will get easier with time.

Discussion: What are some healthy school lunch ideas that you can add to our nut-free list?

I was hoping you could leave me your comments below and any other ideas you have for parents.

August Grocery Game Challenge

Join the 2018 Grocery Game Challenge (GGC), but before you do, you must read The Grocery Game Challenge Rules and Print the 2018 Schedule, which includes new prizes! – Challenge has closed

Free Money Saving Tools

Click, Save, and Print. It’s that easy!

This is the budget that brought us to debt freedom back in 2013 and now I’m offering to all of you for FREE.

We still use this budget every month as it helps us to see our overall financial picture.

You can download the FREE Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel It’s FREE! We use it to budget and in large part a reason we could pay our mortgage off in 5 years, check it out!

Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists created to get us on track working towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.

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CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet. So many free resources at your fingertips.

Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide

Everything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is packed into this amazing FREE grocery shopping guide that has taken 6 years to create.

The time is NOW to get started saving money on groceries so please enjoy the many money-saving posts in The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.

Grocery Shop Results

Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2018: $3600 or $300/month (The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.

  • Grocery Budget for this Month: $300
    Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $300-$13.63=$286.37
  • Gift Cards used to date: $0
  • Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
  • PC Optimum Points to Spend: 3,200,000 2021 update 6 Million
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
    Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
  • Zweet -$0
  • Checkout51- $1.50

Our Grocery Shop This Week


  • Radishes $2.99
  • Radicchio $1.24 (rang in as red cabbage, oops)
  • 2 bags PC Green Beans 3.99 each-50%
  • Ginger root $2.24
  • 2 x English cucumbers $1.49 each $2.98
  • Tomatoes $2.53
  • 3 x PC 500G Sweet Pepper Bacon $7.49-50% $11.25
  • 4 x PC Honey Sea Salt Bacon 500g $7.49 -50% $15.00
  • 10 x Schneiders Bacon $3.99-50% $1.99 each $20.00
  • Gorgonzola Blue Cheese $9.99-50% $5.00
  • Mascarpone Cheese $8.99-50% $4.50

Total Out-of-Pocket $71.72

Costco Groceries


  • 6 x 10% cream $1.85 $11.10
  • 6 x 35% Whipping cream $25.14
  • Asiago Cheese $21.39
  • Avocado bag $8.99
  • Whisps Parmesan $11.99
  • 2 cases diet Pepsi $8.35 each $16.70
  • Large jar Bicks Pickles $5.49
  • Pillers German Salami $10.99

Total Out-of-Pocket $111.79

Metro Groceries


  • Romaine Lettuce $0.99
  • Organic Konjac Spaghetti Sale $3.99
  • Bosc pears $3.00

Total Out-of-Pocket $7.98

Note: All totals below already have tax factored into them.

Coupons and Coupon Apps

Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons!

Related: Find all the latest coupon apps in Canada right here>>  Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons.

Sign up for the Nielsen Canada Home Scan Program, and you can earn rewards points fast to redeem for excellent products or gift cards. I did this in the UK and loved it!!

If you want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada, check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide!

You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget.

Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge 2018!


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