I get it. At the beginning of the school year you are all fired up to pack healthy lunches, but somehow four months later you are handing your kid a paper bag with a piece of bread and and a half eaten apple…
…and he/she should be grateful.
For me it wasn’t the actual time it took to pack the lunch in the morning that became exhausting, it was coming up with ideas and prepping the food. So I have a few tips for you that I learned from years as a lunch packing mom. I have also highlighted recipes for you to use!
(This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission from sales but your price remains the same.)
Rule #1 Make Extra: Leftover Dinners Make Great Lunches!
You are cooking dinner anyway so ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS make extra and use it for lunches the next day! It’s a total timesaver! If you are roasting chicken, roast two, if you are making my lime chicken, make extra. If you are cooking pasta, cook more. You get it.
If you buy prepared food make it good food!
It’s fine to buy prepared food as long as you read labels. Buying prepared hummus, coleslaw, fruit treats or veggie dips is fine, just check for questionable ingredients. If you see something on the ingredient list you wouldn’t use if you were making it home, don’t buy it.
Always pack veggies
Train your children early to eat their veggies. The earlier you introduce vegetables and the more consistent you are, the more likely the littles are to like them. Children’s palates develop in the first few years of life, so get on it!
Keep it simple!
I know, I know these lunches are going to look like a lot of work but they aren’t! If you use leftovers, fresh fruit, nuts, etc…it’s simply a matter of putting it in the lunch box, bag or in this case, a Planet Box!
Variety, variety variety!
Nothing makes your child want to trade his/her lunch for his friend’s hostess cupcake faster than opening their lunchbox to the same ol’ same ol’ every darn day. Change it up…and if you need ideas, well I have them!
The Traditional Lunch: Even the pickiest eater will eat this one!
The Lunch: Your child’s favorite sandwich, raspberries and blueberries, (gotta get those antioxidants) apples, celery and carrots with honey almond butter for dipping! (I like Justin’s Nut Butters) And for “dessert”, raisins and semi sweet chocolate chips. All this is packed in a Planet Box which keeps the food separated and comes with a cold pack to keep everything cool. And you don’t have to use baggies so no waste!
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The Taco Tuesday Lunch!
If you follow rule number one (did you already forget?…Hint: use leftovers) you can have this amazing and healthy lunch packed in three minutes and your child will love building their own taco! Corn tortillas (heat before rolling so they won’t break) lettuce, cheese, salsa and pepitas!
Notice the two round little containers that fit into the compartments, those come with your Planet Box to keep wet items from leaking onto other food items. So you can pack apple sauce, yogurt etc…you get the picture, but just in case, here’s a picture.
Winner, winner (leftover) chicken dinner!
The Lunch: Left over chicken dinners make the perfect next day lunch! My roasted chicken recipes that would work well for lunches can be found here, here, and here or use my Easy Chicken Tender Recipe! It’s perfect for leftovers and only takes ten minutes to make! Grapes, kale chips and mozzarella balls round out the meal. For dessert, little all fruit gummies.
The Big Mac…and Cheese that is!
The Lunch: Mac and cheese, cole slaw, rolled organic turkey, cherries, and for dessert, chocolate chips and raw almonds.
The Go Big or Go Home: But not without a note from your mom
The Lunch: If you make a chicken salad use it for lunches all week! This one has walnuts, grapes and avocado, but I would leave the avocado out because it will turn brown . Melons make a tasty treat especially when served with string cheese wrapped in prosciutto (takes 3 seconds!). We have some freeze dried peas to satisfy the need for green, and for dessert organic cinnamon graham cracker’s and chocolate squares…I love Lake Champlain Chocolate.
The Mediterranean: For the little vegetarian!
The Lunch: I love this one! In fact I had it for lunch right after I took the picture. Hummus is high in protein and healthy fats (my recipe here) so it makes a perfect meat substitute! Your child can dip the pita and sweet bell peppers in it instead of having the traditional sandwich. Olives are filling and also high healthy fats, and for dessert, dried cranberries!
When it comes to packing lunches you are only limited by your imagination. There are literally hundreds of possible combinations. In fact I will be featuring more ideas next month!
More Lunch Ideas!
The Charcuterie ‘Board’ Lunch!
Six Pre-K Lunch Ideas and Tips On Getting Your Children to Eat What You Pack!
Six Healthy Lunch Menus for Back to School
A Naturally Green St. Patrick’s Day Lunch!
The Planet Box comes with an insulated fabric case, or a backpack that has compartments for utensils, napkins and a small drink bottle. So convenient I actually bought one for myself.
Moms around the world are going to love this post!
I hope so! Thanks:)
Love this so much! Are you local to La?
These are great ideas. I love taco Tuesdays especially. Sometimes I feel like the packing school lunch thing is so crazy and last minute! But I am NOT ready for back to school. Not yet…
My kids aren’t old enough for school lunches, but I pack a lunch for my hubby everyday! Love this post! I need to get some Planet Boxes 🙂
I love these lunch boxes
What an awesome post! I love the different types of lunches you came up with. So much healthier than most lunches served in schools! This post will be a hit, guaranteed.
I am so glad you like them. Thanks Anna.
Such wonderful ideas! Pinning and will share!
Great ideas. So good for tired mom brain.
Wow, these are really great ideas and so healthy. Thanks.
BRILLIANT – love the planet boxes Linda!
Aren’t they the best! Thanks Sydney:)
those are some beautiful lunches!!! We homeschool, but I’m so inspired I want to buy lunchboxes!!!! 🙂
Can the PlanetBoxes be on their side? Won’t yogurt and runny things leak out? Or does it seal better than that? I’ve always wondered about Bento-type boxes, since I don’t trust that my kids will keep them flat.
Jessie did you notice the sealed containers I showed with the yogurt? Anything that is liquid should be put in those 🙂
Oh, OK! I see that now, didn’t notice the first time through. Tried to get the answer on their site and didn’t see it there either. But thank you! I may order one for my daughter, I love the dividers and I would be all about ditching the plastic baggies!
Yes! Ditching plastic is one of my favorite things about the planetbox!
I’m loving this for myself! As a teacher, I struggle with packing my own lunch. After wanting a planet lunchbox for a while, I received one as a back to school gift from a few friends. I’m embarrassed to say, it has been sitting in the cupboard for a year because I feel overwhelmed by the compartments! Time to try it out!
You will love it! I love mine:)
This might sound a little silly but are these lunches served cold? I don’t think my kids are going to want cold leftovers for lunch, but I’ll give it a try.
Yes it would all be about room temp by lunch time. It could be cold if you use the cold packs that come with the planetbox.
So for the taco lunch and leftover chicken.,,is everything served cold? That’s what I struggle with. My kids love hot food. Wish they would dive into cold meals.
Hi Megan, Planet boxes are not designed for hot foods, room temp or cold work. In the case of the tacos you could put the meat in a container that retains heat and keep all the cold fixings separate:)
Shared this on our Facebook page! Great ideas…thanks for putting this together.
Thank you so much for sharing! I so appreciate it.
Where do i get lunch boxes like this
I am in south africa gauteng pretoria
Where do i get these lunch boxes
I am in south africa
I provide links for the lunch boxes in the post. I am not sure if they ship to South Africa. You would have to check:)
Good ideas, Thanks so much for sharing!
Great ideas for packing up lunch for my 6yr old.
Thank you so much for all your fantastic ideas! I have already printed your meal suggestions, and I’ve placed them on the fridge. Every day my kids take their time looking at them while deciding what meal they want for the day to come (the photos help so incredibly much). Now they are both happier because they get to choose what they are going to eat and I am so pleased as well with this time-saving process that allows my children to eat healthily every day!
I am so glad! Thanks for the comment!
Love these ideas but unfortunately most kids have to bring foods that don’t contain nuts or nut butter
Yeah…things have changed since I posted this:(