The Evolution of the School Lunch

We all start the school year off with amazing intentions. This will be the year where we send our kid to school with the “Pinterest Perfect” lunch and somehow we always end up at “crumbs in a baggie” by mid year. Here is what I have noticed about the evolution of the school lunch. Indulge me (and your funny bone) if you will.


You see the first pins of “Back to School” show up in your timeline while drinking coffee and trying to find something to do with the kids who won’t stop screaming and chasing each other. The realization that school starts in less than a month sinks in and instantly you start pinning any and every meal and snack idea you can find. Three hours later you emerge from your caffeine-induced pinning frenzy to find the kids have built a new colony in Minecraft and have wiped your fridge out of cheese and blueberry frozen waffles. Vows are made to not let that happen again, but to try making the Hello Kitty sandwich you saw.

Shopping list:

  • Edible Markers
  • Hello Kitty Cookie Cutter

Hello Kitty Sandwich

Early August

Sporadically pin different lunch ideas including 101 Kid Approved School Lunch Ideas and 20 Non-Sandwich Ideas because your kids have been living on PB&J and granola bars for the past week. Practice makes perfect, so you try making healthy muffins in reusable silicone wrappers and a variety of fruit kabobs for a week to get your techniques down. Go through a loaf and a half of bread working on the Hello Kitty sandwich. She looks more like, a Pound Puppy, but you’re determined to get it right.

Shopping list:

  • silicone wrappers
  • plastic kabob picks

Weekend Before School Starts

Meal plan, grocery shop, and organize your supplies into lunchbox packing stations. Fruits, veggies, desserts, goldfish crackers, and the all important sandwich making station. Jot down some lunch box jokes found here, or print adorable lunch box notes to include each day. Give that Hello Kitty one more try…almost got it. You should be ready in time for Monday.

Shopping List:

  • Computer paper
  • Post-it Notes
  • Baggies
  • Individual portioned healthy snacks

Day 1 – After School

Open lunchbox with a knot in your stomach. Did your little one love the Hello Kitty sandwich?? Find the remains of a bag of goldfish, smooshed strawberries, and uptouched celery sticks. Thankfully the Hello Kitty sandwich was completely eaten so all of that practice did not go to waste. Reward yourself with a third cup of coffee.


Things are starting to slip. You don’t even try the celery sticks anymore and have exchanged them for the ever popular chocolate chip granola bar. However, you have branched out with your sandwich shapes to include heart, stars, and a strangely requested ice cream cone. The printer jammed while making your last set of lunch box notes and you have settled on drawing on baggies with sharpies.

The Evolution of the School Lunch square

November – December

The kids start dropping major hints that they want to start buying lunch every day. You have spent all of this money on neat little lunch supplies, but finally give in to pizza Fridays to keep the peace.

Shopping List:  To Do List:

  • Add money to kids’ lunch accounts


You can’t do it any more. The school year has gotten too busy between the book fair, PTA meetings, teacher helper, fundraisers, oh, and your full time job and household. Let the little ones start buying lunch 2 times a week and start making shaped cinnamon sugar toast on the weekends so all of those cookie cutters weren’t a waste.


Things have gone drastically down hill since coming back from Spring Break. Lunchables and pre-packaged goodies fill your cupboards and you let your child pack their own lunch when they aren’t buying. Fingers crossed that there is a protein at least twice a week and that they don’t overdo the desserts.


A pack of pop tarts and milk money. You’ll try again next year.

Pop Tarts and milk Money

Or maybe not. Maybe this will be the year that you can keep it going. If so, I tip my coffee cup to you.


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