Schooling at Home: The Food Edition

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5 Food Tips for Virtual School

I've learned a few things that help make my sanity match up with what my kids need in this season of schooling at home. I'm going to break it down into 5 Food Tips!

1. Meal Planning:

The best thing I've done is separated my lunch meals from my dinner meals (so it doesn't blend together and they have variety in their diets). This helped me grocery-plan too!


Once a week, we have a soup meal. Here are my options:

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese sandwich. I pair this with apple slices and milk

Ramen Noodles with a slice of butter bread, fruit, and cooked frozen peas and milk

Beef Vegetable can of soup, cheese and crackers, raw carrots and fruit and milk

Chicken noodle soup with 1/2 sandwich, banana, and milk

Lunchable-Style Bento Box Lunch Options:

Storebought Nacho Lunchable with cookie, carrots, grapes, and juice

I have a container that I always use to send packed lunches with my kids. It has 3 compartments. I put fresh cut fruit in one compartment and carrot sticks in the other. In the larger one, I put cut up cheese and assorted crackers. I pack this in the morning and the kids can get their own drinks and clean up independently.

Breakfast for Lunch:

About every other week, I have always packed breakfast for lunch for my kids in that little bento-style box. I have 3 options for this since becoming virtual.

Bagel with cream cheese, fresh fruit, yogurt tube, and hard boiled egg.

Breakfast tacos (Eggs, bacon cut up, cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa)

Egg Sandwich (Egg on English Muffin) with fruit cup, yogurt, and milk

Special Meals:

Chicken Patty Sandwiches with peas, fruit cups and milk

Hot dog and roll with cooked frozen veggies, fresh fruit, and milk

Fish Sticks with corn, slice of butter bread, apple slices, and milk

Popcorn Chicken Mashed Potato bowl with fruit cup and milk

Walking Taco Salad with cookie and milk

Pizza Day:

See below!


Frozen Cheese Ravioli with Marinara Sauce:

Sometimes Brady and I will cook a Hello Fresh Meal while the boys eat something like this. We all win then!

Macaroni and Cheese (Ellie Krieger's Recipe)

Shepherd's Pies

I make mini ones with turkey meat (You could use Impossible meat for this if you prefer), peas, and mashed potatoes. I'm allergic to potatoes so I make this just for the kids in little ramkins. Brady and I make a Hello Fresh Meal on nights like this.

Chicken Tender Salad:

Breaded chicken nuggets on a salad with carrots, tomatoes, croutons (I use this Martha Stewart Recipe) I think you could also use this recipe with Meatless Nuggets.


We love this vegetarian Chili recipe from Peas and Crayons

Walking Tacos Salad:

(The left-overs here become lunch for the kids the next day!) We simply crush tortilla chips, add Refried beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and salsa. We skip the meat on this one and the kids love it


Pancakes, eggs, bacon, fruit and herbal tea


We make a lot of soups in the winter too but typically I would use those leftovers for dinner another night or for lunches on a weekend since it is harder to plan.

2. Planning Ahead:

I started making lunch menus in October and found that this move bought me time to work during their lunch. I can prep meals so they can help themselves.

Meals that work well for this include the brunch meals and lunchables as well as a thermos of soup and half a sandwich. I think my kids feel more satisfied if they have some hot lunches mixed in with cold so having the hot thermos of soup is good. On the days when I can make them a hot dog so its done at lunchtime, that works too!

Here is a link to my favorite style of monthly calendar.

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3. Make it like school!

My boys' school always had pizza on Fridays. So, I've arranged for that in our house too! Sometimes we pick up pizza but more often, its Bagel Bits, a frozen pizza, or English Muffin Pizzas.

English muffins freeze really well so when I totally forget to plan for pizza day, I usually have sauce and some cheese on hand. The kids like to make their own too so they get involved.

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4. Build in Breaks:

I've built in breaks for myself! Once a week it means the kids get their own lunch as part of their lunch break. Another strategy is just to treat virtual school like regular school and pack their lunches. You can allow them to eat in different parts of the house like a picnic if they clean up well too. 

This is really helps because my kids don't have lunch at the same exact time of the day.

Weekly PB & J:

PB & J, grapes, carrots, a cookie, and milk.


They're expected to clean up their dishes and trash every day independently.

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5. Make it special!

In September, I bought simple gray lunch trays at IKEA. On days when I have time, I make a little line of stuff that they have to pick up as if they're in the lunch line. Little things like this have given the kids joy and makes this strange world feel like an adventure.

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Schools Providing Meals:

Many places are providing meals for free to all children in this time. If you have a schedule and location that allow for this, I'd definitely take advantage of this!

What am I about?

My business is photoPhotographic Memories by Ann M. Bickel, LLC and is about providing art opportunities in the Altoona community as well as portraiture photography work. As a creative person, I like to dabble in other areas that allow me to bear witness to others' lives and explore what brings us all together.

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