Most kids in the Yakima Valley are going back to school this month and a lot of parents and guardians are stumped for some good school lunch ideas for their kids. In the Yakima School District, students will have breakfasts and lunches provided through grant funding. This will alleviate a lot of financial stress for thousands of parents however, these free meals being provided do not meet or "meat" the needs of certain students. We are here to provide a little help for those looking for Yakima Valley-inspired kids' lunch ideas for back-to-school!

If your child is a picky eater, getting a free lunch at their elementary or middle school isn't going to cut it, so how can a parent or guardian help give their child a delicious, nutritious, and filling lunch during the school day? Hopefully one of these 8 kids' lunch ideas inspired by fruits and veggies grown and cultivated here in the Yakima Valley can help!

You can view the Yakima School District food menu calendar here.


Turkey, Ham, or Roast Beef Subs or Roll Up Sandwiches

My child doesn't like burgers or cheeseburgers so getting a free burger lunch at school makes her sad. I've offered for her to take turkey subs on the days we know there will be meat patties for lunch. You can buy a thing of meat variety roll-ups at Costco (if you don't have a membership, ask a friend if you can tag along the next time they make a Costco run).



Those Cup-o-Noodles and Maruchan 5-packs from the dollar store really come in handy for kids' school lunches, especially if there is a microwave or a hot water station that the kids can have access to. Your child can choose from Beef, Shrimp, Chicken, or Spicy flavored ramen noodle soup. Since these ramen noodles are not made locally, you can jazz it up with some local vegetables in the ramen. I recommend green peas and corn, although the local U-Pick green peas might be out of season by now. You can get corn from Yakama Nation Fruit & Produce in Wapato (74610 US Highway 97).


DIY Lunchables

Lunchables can get expensive at your local grocery store but a secret that I'll share with you is that you can find those packs of Pizza, Nachos, Turkey and Cheese, and Ham and Cheese Lunchables for cheap. But make it local by letting your kid create their own DIY Lunchable with meats from a local Yakima Valley meat shop, like Snyder's Meats & German Sausage Haus. Warning: Do not tell your kid this is a "DIY Lunchable" because they will revolt and be mad at you for not getting them the ones from the store. You can do that, too, of course. Just tell them to switch up their lunches every now and then.


Snacks: Goldfish crackers and/or Fruit

You can buy those re-usable snack-sized ziplock bags and load them up with Goldfish crackers and fruit for your child's school lunch. Make them locally inspired by using fresh fruit picked from the Yakima Valley! Fresh apricots, peaches, berries, and melons are fruits in season right now at area U-Pick farms.

RELATED: 7 U-Pick Farms in Central Washington to Visit This Summer


Smoked Salmon, Brie, and Crackers

Okay, so maybe this particular lunch idea is for the sophisticated palate of an older child, but don't thumb your nose at it. We have plenty of smoked salmon available in the Yakima Valley and Washington state, for that matter, so have at it, Hoss! Get some cheese from a Yakima Valley business like Tieton Farm & Creamery and SeaBear Pacific Northwest smoked salmon from the grocery. Toss in some fruit and your child can have their own charcuterie spread for school lunch.


Mediterranean Food but Make It Yakima

I saw this idea on Pinterest for a Mediterranean-style kid's school lunch and it had hummus, carrot sticks, black olives, crackers, and turkey slices. How can we give this a Yakima Valley twist? Switch out the black olives for tomatoes and buy your carrots from a local U-Pick farm instead of the grocery store. One place you could stop by to get the carrots and tomatoes is McIlrath Family Farms (10 Old Naches Hwy).


Mini Chicken & Waffles with veggies, chips, and fruit

Don't knock it til you try it, your kid could be eating mini chicken and waffles on a stick for school lunch! It's called a "non-sandwich sandwich". Of course, these will need to be refrigerated or kept cool with an ice pack inside their lunch bag. I got the idea from Pinterest here. Make it local by using fresh veggies and fruit picked here in the Yakima Valley.


Pepperoni Pizzadillas

Thanks to that one movie, I always want to yell out, "Napoleon, come get some Kaysa-dillas!" whenever I see the word quesadillas, but seriously, pepperoni pizzadillas sounds really yummy. At least, it would sound that way to me if I were still a kid in school. My 11-year-old is going to middle school now and she is obsessed with cheese quesadillas so I will probably help her make these for school lunch on the days she want to take a bag. How to make this inspired by the Valley? Fiesta Foods (1008 E Nob Hill Blvd) makes fresh tortillas right there in the deli!

And there you have it, 8 great Yakima Valley-inspired school lunch ideas. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm extremely hungry and it's past my lunchtime!

RELATED: TOP 10 Family Restaurants in Yakima

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