Back-to-School Recipes That Make Lunch-Packing a Breeze – Tricks and Tips

Back-to-School Recipes That Make Lunch-Packing a Breeze – Tricks and Tips

We feel for you, parents. New schedules and activities make back-to-school season stressful enough. And sourcing, prepping, and packing the perfect school lunch only adds to the frenzy. We get it, sometimes it’s easier to send them with some cafeteria money and call it a day. But when you are committed to filling up lunchboxes—and typical sack-lunch staples like a PB&J are worn out—what else can be done to please picky young palates?

To answer that question, we asked Baltimore food creators to share their own kid-friendly meal-prepping advice.

“Our five-year-old has strong opinions about food, but he also loves going grocery shopping,” shares Laura Alima, who owns ice cream shop The Charmery with her husband, David. To make trips fun, “I always let him pick out snacks or treats to balance with the healthy foods he enjoys.

“Our daughter is going into third grade and enjoys helping out. On the weekends, we make lunches for the week that we can grab in the morning.” Laura says the couple’s daughter takes pride in the process of assembling her own lunchbox, “And I get the freedom of not doing it,” she quips. 

Here are more tips and tricks, as well as four time-saving recipes, from other local food business owners and chefs.

Citrus Chicken Salad

Craig Falk of The Lunchbox Lady and Big Softy

Falk might handle the prep and cooking for his catering business, The Lunchbox Lady, and food pop-up, Big Softy, but “at home, my wife, Denise, is the lunch-maker: aka, the sous chef for the kids’ school lunches,” he says. Falk stresses that a tasty lunch “is all about balance.” Oftentimes, for Falk’s kiddos, a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich, or this tasty citrus chicken salad, will do the trick. “Some days they get a Jell-O or an applesauce pouch, and Doritos or popcorn for a crunch,” Falk says. “We give them choices, and hope they eat 80-90 percent of their lunch.” 


  • 3 chicken breasts
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 3/4 cup shredded pineapple
  • 1 handful of dried cranberries
  • 1 cup mayonnaise

Instructions: Drizzle chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Flip and bake the chicken for another 10 minutes. Once the chicken has cooled, shred half and chop half into chunks to achieve different textures. Halve celery long ways and mince. Add to a bowl along with chicken, pineapple, dried cranberries, and mayo. Mix, add salt to taste, and boomtown! (Two fruits and half the mayo=full strength!)