I always have mixed emotions about the school year starting again. I love lazy mornings with the boys in the summer, but when school starts I’m always happy about the structure and to know they are having fun with friends during the day.

One thing I never look forward to is packing lunches. Prepping and packing school lunches means extra early mornings and never feeling very inspired by the same basic lunches I have on rotation. 

Thankfully, our friend Marla Murphy from The Blonde Pantry came over to help me jazz up school day lunches (and lunch making!) with 4 easy and healthy recipes. I’m actually feeling excited to add these into my lunch making rotation and I know they boys will love a little more variety this year! Read on below for 4 delicious lunch ideas that go beyond your basic sandwich.  Plus, all recipes were kid tested and Knox and Andrew approved! 😉

*Contributor Note: Today’s post is brought to you by Marla Murphy, a registered and licensed dietician and the founder of The Blonde Pantry, a Houston based gluten / dairy free meal delivery. Marla is a self proclaimed foodie and loves to try new restaurants and indulge while also balancing a healthy lifestyle. As a nutrition consultant, it is her mission to help people “change the way we define health, to step back from nit-picking nutrition/fitness and look at the bigger picture: personal wellness.”  You can find Marla on Instagram @theblondepantry

Back to school shopping can be very overwhelming, and with all of the prep work it’s easy to forget about back-to-school lunches. Today we are giving you 4 easy recipes to help you avoid the “what do we have in the pantry for lunches?!” dilemma.

In addition to 4 fresh lunch ideas, we are also sharing all of our prep tricks for making your life easier in the kitchen. Whether you are looking for Pinterest-worthy lunches, or just making sure the kids don’t starve (reality!), we’ve got every appetite covered. Of course our main goal when building lunches is finding easy, quick and healthy options to keep your kids full with proper nutrition that will get them through the school day like a champ!

Easy Chicken Salad 

The great thing about this recipe is that the chicken salad makes 4 servings, so if you have multiple kids to make lunches for this can provide more than one meal or leave you with leftovers for your own lunch! To avoid turning the oven on, simply pick up a cooked rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store. I also suggest subbing mayo for greek yogurt for extra protein, or you can skip the dairy altogether by using avocado or a dairy-free cashew or coconut yogurt instead. You can prep this chicken salad on Sunday before the start of the week so it’s as simple as scooping the chicken salad into your sandwich bread of choice in the morning before school. 


1 pound chicken breast (cooked) or rotisserie chicken without skin (this will save you about 15 minutes)

1 cup of plain greek yogurt (dairy-free option: 1 whole mashed avocado or dairy-free yogurt)

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 cup red grapes, cut in halves

1 tsp of onion powder


Place chicken in a baking dish lined with foil on 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes until thoroughly cooked. 

Then add the chicken into food processor or a kitchen aid mixer to easily shred the chicken. (shredding by hand works too). 

Lastly, add in the other ingredients and mix until all the ingredients are well combined.

Bread Options:

Whole wheat wrap

Siesta wrap/tortilla (gluten/dairy free option)

Butter lettuce leaves

Long romaine lettuce 

2 slices of whole wheat bread

1 ‘thin cut’ whole wheat bagel

Optional Add-Ons & Spreads:


Sliced avocado







Pretzels Chips

Sliced watermelon 


Sliced Turkey Lettuce Roll-Ups

This is a perfectly delicious, no-cooking-required lunch! It can be difficult to get little ones to dive into a salad, but when you disguise lettuce as bread, it’s a lot easier! Simply substitute your usual bread slices with lettuce (butter or romaine) and fill them with turkey sandwich ingredients. For a dairy-free sandwich, try almond “cream cheese” instead of your usual cheese of choice. 


sliced turkey 


almond “cream cheese”

cherry tomatoes

lettuce cups



fruit: grapes and blueberries

Sun Butter Roll-Ups (Peanut Free)

Nut allergies are so common in kids, and many schools have become strict about not allowing nut butters in classrooms. You can make a lunch that gives your child the nutty flavor he or she likes by subbing nut butter for  SunButter, made from sunflower seeds. They won’t notice a difference!



whole wheat wrap


Fun Add-Ons:

chocolate chips 

ground flaxseed 



Veggie chips 


pretzels chips

Nutrient-Rich Twist on an Old Classic

With this recipe, we’re giving the traditional sandwich ingredients a nutritional makeover. Instead of the usual mayo and mustard, try hummus as a spread and pile on any veggies that you think you can get away with! Whether that’s cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, bell peppers or tomatoes, the more fresh veggies the better! To avoid slicing veggies in the early morning hours, prep your veggies over the weekend and store them in airtight containers in the fridge during the week. You can use them on sandwiches or as sides. 






shredded carrots

sliced bell peppers


turkey or sliced chicken 

cheese (omit if dairy free) 

Whole wheat bread (or a gluten free option) 


sliced vegetables 

veggie chips 

half a banana

Healthy Dessert Ideas

Lastly, if you’re looking for healthy dessert ideas to satiate your kid’s sweet tooth, try gluten free Larabar Bites or Skinny Dipped Chocolate Almonds. By giving them a little something sweet, they will hopefully be less prone to dig into the classroom candy jar! 

Do you have any back-to-school lunches that your kids love? How do you prep in advance? Share in the comments below!

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