It all started back in the end of July when I had finished a month full of ice cream posts on Instagram. I asked for ideas about what to post in August and the overwhelming response was: school lunches! Everyone was looking for ideas to change up the school lunchbox routine, so I posted different lunch ideas for each day of the month (minus the one day I was a thousand miles away taking boards.) Many of you requested a round up at the end of the month compiling all of the ideas to save as an easy reference. Here it is! I must admit that even though I’m no longer doing daily lunch posts, I’ve already been mentally saving up more new ideas so this is a topic we will likely revisit in the future.
Before we get to the list of lunches, let’s go ahead and answer the frequently asked questions I received over the course of the lunch series in case any of you were wondering the same things.
Where’s the lunchbox from? This particular lunchbox is from Pottery Barn Kids. We absolutely love it. Other companies, most notably PlanetBox, offer similar products but the one we have is the only one we have actually tried so I have no basis to compare them. I had Pottery Barn rewards dollars to spend and we couldn’t be happier with this box. Last year we were sending a ton of little separate containers, reusable sandwich bags, etc. and it was a giant pain. This has been SO much easier. A lot of people have asked about whether foods leak between compartments. The lid of the box fits snugly to the top of the compartments so there isn’t much communication between them. I think one day there was a minor hummus leak, but we send hummus a lot and that only happened once.
How do you get your kids to eat this stuff? This could really be a whole post in itself, or maybe it’s just my soapbox. Our kids eat pretty much everything. We started as early as possible, feeding them the same foods as we eat and not offering an alternative. If kids learn that complaining will earn them a different type of food that they deem more suitable, picky behaviors can arise. We eat a huge variety of different foods including plenty of fruits and veggies so in our house, this is just the norm. It can be challenging at the beginning but it’s important to be consistent and to not make a big fuss out of it. This strategy, if you can even call it that, pays of hugely in the long run.
How do you keep (avocado/apple slices/etc.) from browning? The kids know that certain foods brown when exposed to air but that it doesn’t affect the taste, so I don’t take any measures to prevent browning. You can minimize it somewhat by brushing with lemon or lime juice but I don’t think that is really necessary.
What about nut allergies? Thankfully neither of our kids has a nut allergy and neither of them are in classrooms with allergy restrictions. Because of this, I use nuts a fair amount in their lunches. However, it is fairly easy to avoid if needed. In place of hummus consider some kind of white bean dip without tahini. Instead of nuts (which I like for some extra protein), consider roasted chickpeas. Instead of peanut butter, use sunflower seed butter.
(Also, quick housekeeping note: A new issue has arisen preventing the photos here from being pinned the usual ways. We are looking into this and are working to correct the problem. In the meantime, please use the newly added “Pin It” button that appears when you hover over an individual image. Thanks!)
That’s about all I have on the topic for now – on to the list of lunches! (Also, my awesome friend Josie also did a lunch post recently that is a great resource. Be sure to check it out!)
- Sandwich skewers – Take anything you might normally put on a sandwich and skewer it! Just be sure to snip off any sharp ends on the sticks. These included cheese, tomato, cucumber and baguette cubes. Also included: cantaloupe, goldfish crackers, ants on a log and a dinky doozie.
- Kale pesto pasta – Tastes good warm and at room temperature so it works in lunch boxes. Also included: assorted tomatoes, cucumber slices, strawberries, dinky doozie.
- Veggie wrap – Homemade spinach wrap filled with a thin layer of Boursin cheese and all sorts of veggies we find around the fridge. Our favorite combo in these is shredded carrot, avocado, cucumber and spinach (sprouts are also great). Also included: yellow tomatoes, kiwi, strawberries, caramel corn.
- Pita platter – inspired by a hummus and veggie platter we ate at a restaurant that Andrew loved, I attempted to recreate by including the same items from the spread. He uses the pita triangles (actually homemade wheat naan I tend to keep in the freezer) to make mini sandwiches with the hummus, veggies, and feta, and thinks this is SO fun. Also included: grapes and dark chocolate covered almonds.
- More skewers! These were turkey, cheddar, apple, baguette and green apple. Also included: clementine segments, pretzels, watermelon and chocolate covered almonds.
- Veggie sandwich – The sandwich Andrew asks for every weekend day when we are home for lunch. I used baguette slices to make two mini sandwiches. He likes cheese, avocado, tomato, and usually lettuce. Also included: raisins and cashews, blueberries, carrot and celery sticks, and shortbread.
- Peanut butter banana honey roll ups – my go-to lunch option when I have zero energy and am making lunch in the morning. This takes about 1 minute to make and the kids love it. Also included: berries, pretzels, cucumbers, carrots, and a mini s’more (with homemade marshmallow – a must) toasted with my kitchen torch.
- Caprese skewers – fresh mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, turkey. Also included: grapes, hard boiled egg, broccoli and cauliflower with hummus, chocolate covered almonds.
- Bean and cheese quesadilla – Our whole family loves Mexican food so it’s always a hit when it makes it into the lunchbox. Also included: mango, raspberries, tomato slices and cheater guac (avocados smashed with lime juice and a bit of salt), and a mini brownie.
- Tuna pita with avocado – I use lettuce to line the pita pocket so it doesn’t get soggy. Also included: cashews and craisins, grapes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and raspberries filled with a tiny bit of Nutella.
- Black bean, corn and avocado salad with blue corn chips for scooping – Anything involving dipping chips is a big hit with Andrew and he loves this lunch. Also included: blueberries, clementine segments, and a mini brownie.
- Ham, cheddar and soft pretzel skewers – Soft pretzel bites freeze beautifully so I keep a big bag in the freezer for use in lunches. I now use white whole wheat flour to make them whole grain. Also included: grapes and strawberries, carrots and cucumbers, almonds and craisins, and caramel corn.
- Greek pita pizza – similar to this deal, but no heating involved. Also included: peach slices, cashews, strawberries, and a chocolate peanut butter granola bite.
- BALT spring rolls (the A is avocado) – HUGE hit! Also included: sugar snap peas, cheese cubes, watermelon, and a chocolate peanut butter granola bite.
- BBQ chicken flatbread – I typically make pizza or flatbreads and cool completely so they are chilled before sending to school. Who doesn’t love cold
pizzaflatbread? Also included: plum slices, tomatoes, broccoli with hummus, and raspberries with chocolate chips inside. (This is obviously the reason raspberries have a hole in the center!)
- PB&J waffle sandwich – Every sandwich is instantly made more fun on waffle “bread”. Any time we make waffles on the weekend, I freeze the leftovers for use in lunches (and I use white whole wheat flour to make them whole grain.) Also included: sugar snap peas, crackers with Boursin, berries and a mini pretzel s’more.
- Veggie pasta salad – Cold pasta shapes tossed with fresh mozzarella and a few veggies and a bit of oil and vinegar. Also included: rainbow carrot sticks, nectarine slices, cantaloupe and dark chocolate squares.
- Bean and cheese tostada – Again, we just love Mexican food! I cut a tortilla to fit the box, topped with mashed seasoned black beans and piled high with veggies. Also included: grapes, blue corn chips, apple slices and raspberries with chocolate chips.
- Thai chicken wrap – I used leftover grilled chicken from a dinner, added carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, lettuce and peanut sauce and wrapped it all up in a tortilla. Also included: tomatoes, rainbow carrot sticks, berries, and an iced oatmeal cookie.
- Loaded kale salad – Andrew really loves loaded dinner salads but lettuce doesn’t hold up well in a lunch box. Instead I used massaged kale and topped with grilled chicken, hard boiled egg, avocado, and a lemon parmesan vinaigrette. Also included: cashews and craisins, tomato mozzarella stack, berries, and an iced oatmeal cookie.
And last but certainly not least, breakfast for lunch! I made faux French toast skewers by briefly sautéing baguette cubes with a bit of honey and cinnamon. Also included: Hard boiled egg, cashews, fruit salad with mango, raspberry and mint, and a mini pumpkin spice muffin.
I hope you find this post a useful resource for your lunch packing endeavors!