Saving on School Lunches: 30 Foods that are Surprisingly Good Cold!

In this third, and final, iteration of saving on school lunches we will talk about leftovers. When most of us think of lunches (for school or work), our first thoughts usually go to cold lunch staples such as sandwiches, fruit and yogurt or cheese. In my own experimentation, I found that those staples can get boring. I began to wonder how I could shake things up a bit and realized I had the solution right in front of me the whole time! Leftovers!

It has been a month of sending school lunches now, and I have to admit the novelty has worn off. It can be difficult trying to keep things fresh. Most of us are creatures of habit so it doesn’t take long to fall into old shopping and eating patterns. Think about it, how many of us have the same foods every week? For most of us, it’s all too easy to fall in a rut! I realized that if I found myself getting fatigued, chances are, my kids were too!

I should mention that we allow our kids to pick out one school hot lunch each week to enjoy. This helps to break up the routine so they don’t run into lunch boredom and gives us a respite. Sure signs that your kids are losing interest in the foods you are sending include more uneaten items returned home and more requests to buy hot lunch at school.

Kids love routine, but I’m trying to be conscious of what I send so they don’t get sick of the same old thing day after day. That is why I think it’s a good idea to send in reinforcements once in a while. This could be as simple as sending a Lunchable that they enjoy or a special treat. Or, as you will find in this post, planning meals at home so there are plenty of yummy leftovers to send to school!

When you plan your meals for the week and go shopping, keep in mind that leftovers can make great lunches! You would be surprised how many leftovers taste great cold. It takes very little effort to make a little extra of the dinners that you normally prepare anyway. Planning a few of these meals each week will give you more options for daily lunches.

Here are a few ideas to work into your weekly meal planning that taste great cold:

  1. Pizza
  2. Chicken nuggets & fish sticks
  3. Chinese Food leftovers
  4. Chicken and rice
  5. Corn on the cob
  6. Left-over roast beef
  7. Steak
  8. Pancakes & waffles
  9. Fried or roasted chicken
  10. Meatloaf & meatballs (makes great sandwiches)
  11. Lasagna
  12. Grilled veggies (zucchini, summer squash, potato, tomato)
  13. Macaroni (chop suey) sandwiches
  14. Hot dogs
  15. Quesadillas
  16. Thanksgiving dinner
  17. Frittata
  18. Meat pies (chicken, pork)
  19. Breakfast sausage
  20. Fish
  21. Hot pockets
  22. Stromboli
  23. Quinoa
  24. Tortellini
  25. Pesto pasta
  26. Rigatoni with butter
  27. Squash
  28. Ham
  29. Hash browns / fried potato
  30. Boiled New England dinner (corn beef)

Well, that’s it. I hope that these posts have given you some ideas to shake up the lunch routine. I know I’ve learned a lot over the last few weeks. I still return to Pinterest a few times a week to find new ideas to try, and rely on some staples to get us through when I don’t have the time to plan something special. I would love to know how you handle the school lunch dilemma. Post your suggestions below!

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