Packing School Lunch

I’ve been packing school lunches for my kiddos almost every day, for the last 7 years- that’s a lot of lunches! Do I love it? Nope. Why do I do it? Because I like knowing what my kids are eating. If you follow me on Instagram, you can see what I’m packing most days.  I’m by no means a lunch packing expert, but I have learned a few things over the years.

Packing school lunch! Tips and tricks for making school lunch easy.

My favorite lunch box products:

Some of the links below are Amazon affiliate links but please shop around for the best deal!

  • Lunch Containers–  We’ve been using the PlanetBox for about 5 years now and I highly recommend them!  They do cost more that other options, but they’re made from stainless steel and come with a 5 year warranty.  Ours still look brand new! They make packing lunches fun and the kids love them! They can also be purchased directly from PlanetBox. If you’re not ready to invest that much into a lunch box, these work great too: Ziploc Container and Easy Lunchboxes !  We used them before buying the PlanetBoxes. I’ve never tried the YUMBOX , but I have heard great things about them!
  • Water Bottles– We’ve gone through so many water bottles, it’s ridiculous. We’ve tried several brands, but they’ve all ended in disappointment- broken lids, leaky bottles, missing pieces. I found these Bubba water bottles at Walmart a few months ago, and so far, they’ve held up well. I’m sure there will come a day when one gets broken, or goes missing, but at this price, I won’t cry over it like I’ve done with some of our more expensive ones!
  • Dip Containers– We use these Sistema Containers almost daily. They’re just the right size for Ranch Dressing or other dips.
  • Napkins– I invested in Cloth Napkins a couple years ago, and wish I’d done it sooner. FUNKINS Cloth Napkins come in super fun patterns, and they’ve been very durable! Walmart also has some cute Pioneer Woman napkins that we use too!
  • Thermos– A thermos is great for packing leftovers! We also use them for yogurt, milk (if I’m sending cereal), and oatmeal. We have the U Konserve brand.
  • Ice Packs– These Ice Packs are great, and I also have some cheap ones from Walmart. I try to keep a few extras in the freezer, for those mornings when I realize we forgot to re-freeze the ones from the day before!
  • Fun extras– I use Silicone Baking Cups to separate food, and Food Picks to make skewers (you can usually find plain food picks at the dollar store!). These cute little Animal Forks are great for younger children!

A few tips:

  • We love leftovers for lunch around here! When I’m planning our dinner menu for the week, I’ll try to think of ways to make our dinner stretch further so there will be enough for lunches too.
  • Pack the night before, if possible. Sometimes I’m so tired at night and the last thing I want to do is pack lunches, but I’m always so glad I did the next morning!
  • Think outside the box! Some of my kids favorite lunches aren’t what you would consider “lunch.” They love it when I send oatmeal, or peanut butter sandwiches made with whole wheat pancakes as the bread.
  • Spend a little time on the weekends making muffins to keep in the freezer, or hard boiled eggs to have on hand. Preparing as much as you can ahead of time can make your week go so much smoother!
  • Packing lunch every day can get boring! If you need some new ideas, Weelicious Lunches is a great resource! There are lots of great lunch accounts on Instagram, like Lala Lunchbox, and Super Foods for Kids. I also have a gallery of lunch ideas down below.
  • A few of our favorite lunch box friendly recipes: Power MuffinsChia BitesCheesy Ham and Broccoli Quinoa Bites
  • Get your kids involved! Let them help pick out what they want to eat, and then let them help pack it. My kids always eat more if they were involved in making it! I spent a little time re-arranging my kitchen so my kids can have a little “lunch packing station.” Now everything is where they can reach it!

Lunch Gallery:

12950261_963087703769265_2029898900_nYogurt & chia seeds, strawberries, carrots & ranch, a whole wheat banana muffin, and a few chocolate chips.

13671166_633978520114540_729348783_n

Veggies & homemade ranch, leftover chicken, local grapes, raisins, pistachios, and a piece of Kyya chocolate chocolate.

10522312_725157240853066_1853646864_n
Salad w/dressing, turkey on skewers, plums, grapes, and yogurt covered pretzels.
11005063_861419260587710_1041096774_n
Taco salad, tortilla chips, salsa (in the pink container), fruit, and dark chocolate covered almonds.
10724844_1496993893903654_1554898413_n
Peanut butter & honey roll-ups, cucumbers w/ranch, plums, grapes, and dark chocolate covered almonds.
11931169_1666364133643465_1296498701_n
Make your own pizzas- mini whole wheat pitas, pizza sauce (it’s actually leftover spaghetti sauce 😄), shredded cheese, mini pepperoni, baby carrots, plums, and chocolate covered almonds.
11242402_648299775305774_700403446_n
salad w/ ranch, broiled chicken, peaches, yogurt, and chocolate covered almonds.
11261226_681759101935684_1668080902_n
Apple slices & peanut butter, The New Primal Grass Fed Beef Jerky, yogurt, cherries and chocolate covered almonds.
11258658_979070578804500_527166872_n
Taco salad w/ salsa, cucumber, tomatoes, apples, and chocolate covered almonds.
10899018_760987330653823_570214885_n
Fruit, cheese stick, chicken sausage, cashews, yogurt covered pretzels, and a whole wheat pumpkin muffin (recipe from @100daysofrealfood).
11117137_557827614358585_849052256_n
Lunch time!
11377921_883654558386472_2035320568_n
Our version of a Pizza Lunchable- 2 Joseph’s Flax, Oat Bran, & Whole Wheat Mini Pitas, pizza sauce, shredded cheese, pepperoni, cherries, pistachios, and chocolate covered almonds.
11939596_690691151033674_284721548_n
Sandwich, apple slices, cucumbers, pistachios, and chocolate covered almonds.
11417508_1096954930362093_2058997012_n
leftover steak, veggies & ranch, raisins, cashews, and fruit.
11934658_1534301723547340_1599670410_n
Sandwich, carrots & ranch, apple slices, yogurt, and mini M&M’s
10691688_738921892812129_1601452522_n
Peanut butter & jelly, carrots, cucumber, & broccoli w/ranch, grapes, and yogurt covered pretzels for dessert.
11251139_1120038554714920_8108760_n
Chicken nuggets & ketchup, pineapple, yogurt, pistachios, and a Justin’s Mini Peanut Butter Cup.
10488411_355881621238026_1425153290_n
Skewers w/ chicken sausage, cheese, & cherry tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, & ranch, cashews, grapes, & yogurt covered pretzels.
11324425_387764818076051_27425267_n
Peanut butter & honey on whole wheat, veggies & ranch, peaches, and chocolate covered almonds.
11821124_1592543247634694_1572386944_n
lettuce & cabbage with chicken, dressing, slivered almonds & chow mein noodles, mandarin oranges, grapes, egg roll, and a few pieces of chocolate.
11327000_777567192358388_395055276_n
Salad, yogurt, sweet potato chips, raisins, and cherries.
11917977_469319779913368_976517987_n
Watermelon, turkey, veggies & ranch, and pistachios.
12080467_204056246592668_827547592_n
salad, plums, whole wheat bagel with cream cheese, and a Justins mini peanut butter cup.
12093710_1715308405420225_703950864_n
salad, apple slices, yogurt, popcorn, and a piece of Easter candy.
12545491_585383101609162_2094177777_n
Cucumber, carrots, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds, pretzels, grapes, cottage cheese, salami & cheese on a skewer, and a homemade mini chocolate chip cookie for dessert.
13266741_1727649360833113_302507521_n
Pork tenderloin w/ bbq sauce, veggies & ranch, fruit, and a MySuperFoods cookie.
12912578_501928863339388_1734782911_n
a turkey, cheese, & lettuce wrap, pretzels, plums, grapes, broccoli & ranch, and a couple junior mints.
12751318_250444298624894_136787039_n
veggies & ranch, ham, raisins, popcorn, and we’re trying something new today- lemon plums.
12825861_541902735969335_268520789_n
Leftover pizza, strawberries & kiwi, broccoli & cauliflower, pistachios, and a yogurt covered pretzel.
12141828_763460777116306_1011914687_n
Halloween lunch! Sandwich, grapes, a cutie, cheese stick, and a Justin’s mini peanut butter cup.
12104992_461867264009155_609325668_n
Noosa yogurt, ham slices, carrots & ranch, grapes, and a Justin’s mini peanut butter cup.
12446053_1694637430820729_468989765_n
Ham & cheese slices, cashews, carrots & ranch, fruit, and Justin’s mini peanut butter cup.
12940276_1061949997203280_1047720449_n
Slider, veggies, fruit, and chocolate chips.
13745133_1756890451267006_929576327_n
sandwich, fruit, veggies, and trail mix.
12519441_998910653527382_409831677_n
fruit, turkey, cashews, carrots & ranch, and chocoate chips
13126628_1329547300408682_857222340_n
yogurt, Applegate pepperoni, apples & grapes, granola, raisins, and 1/2 a cupcake.
12445855_225790794462584_1072348476_n
Picnic lunch!
13556939_525415804317424_1403768352_n
quinoa bites made with ham, broccoli, and cheese, veggies & ranch, strawberries, and organic gummy bears.
12519534_1701472096793164_1758375685_n
chicken pot pie, an apple, a fruit strip, and a larabar.
13741365_1264623333578268_2135781299_n
deli ham, a hard boiled egg, carrots & homemade ranch, local grapes, stonyfield organic yogurt, and a justins mini peanut butter cup.
13102374_1601026403550074_1492665436_n
Lots of fruits & veggies, a turkey stick, a whole wheat banana pancake with peanut butter, and some chocolate covered almonds..\
14032919_628082050684148_2145935181_n
hamburger veggie soup, crackers, and an apple.
13556903_1344198722262640_1374783288_n
leftover turkey meatballs, watermelon & strawberries, veggies & ranch, raisins, and some MySuperCookies.
12748270_1517971148504763_760391679_n
Yogurt with chia seeds, ants on a log, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, pretzels, and trail mix.
14031722_1178681635529850_2071798724_n
whole wheat Mac & Cheese with ham, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, and cherry tomatoes.
12145021_1658063344449512_670546908_n
Salad, fruit, and a min bagel.
12825981_1687981761471127_592435597_n
Veggies & ranch, Sunkist orange slices, cheese stick, muffin, and chocolate covered almonds.
13671681_171308073285282_518502386_n
fruit, veggies, and a homemade whole wheat waffle
13731164_1183738421665686_1304664044_n
Homemade chicken strips, apple slices, pistachios, a cheese stick, and a chocolate chip cookie.
13597532_579488618900566_89688150_n
veggies & ranch, cherries, salami, yogurt, and chocolate.
14063464_332105607179996_1661624443_n
turkey stick, plum slices & raspberries, popcorn, veggies & homemade ranch, a hard boiled egg, and chocolate covered almonds.
12950200_1036182803133133_189549186_n
veggies & ranch, rasberries, yogurt, and Cliff Bar, and chocolate covered almonds.
14052665_1825178727716353_1756461952_n
cantaloupe, homemade chicken nuggets with honey mustard, a mini cucumber, raisins, and a justins mini peanut butter cup.
14360054_595309863984880_1571110130777325568_n
arrots & ranch, nitrate free salami, cashews, cottage cheese, fruit, and chocolate pretzels.
13402485_264681363901870_289117320_n
yogurt, granola, a banana, carrots & ranch, and chocolate covered raisins.
14128813_1587782678183303_911029771_n
leftover Coconut Chicken Curry, cantaloupe, and an organic granola bar from Aldi.
14063316_1634469863510024_124561324_n
organic yogurt, petite grapes, turkey, cucumbers, and a piece of chocolate.
14134501_863654263764833_214302325_n
Homemade lunchable
14268995_1812330645711026_2688597828774658048_n
Organic Raisin Bran, organic milk in the thermos, a whole grain peanut butter muffin, a banana, and cherry tomatoes.
13549651_517984251725618_459318578_n
leftover chicken, cottage cheese, carrots & cucumber with ranch, strawberries, raisins, and a couple chia seed peanut butter bites.
16124074_435199330144886_1189067957959917568_n
A power muffin, strawberries, banana, carrots & cucumbers with ranch, cashews, and a couple junior mints for a treat.
15043520_216200218792228_9194663118238646272_n
Pizza, blackberries, veggies & ranch, and a few chocolate chips.
15801921_719463764896971_3245648648909881344_n
leftover Harvest Pasta, grapes, a Clifbar, and a berry applesauce pouch.
15035549_1732988480355791_6062697292966658048_n
veggies & ranch, ham & cheese, applesauce, pistachios, and a chocolate chip cookie
14659453_191507794632423_436411004176302080_n
Halloween lunch- PB&J on whole wheat, carrots, a banana, raisins, and turkey jerky.
14624433_1794619664085929_3798300915727859712_n
cucumbers & ranch, a turkey stick, a tortilla roll-up (whole wheat tortilla with natural peanut butter & honey), strawberries, and a justin’s mini peanut butter cup.
14704961_556397444554254_7814900596611219456_n
Fish tacos (while wheat tortillas, tilapia, black beans, cheeses, & tomatoes), grapes, and a justins mini peanut butter cup.
14063207_1795829900696539_1819277310_n
sloppy joes, grapes
14072756_1771795776429919_1413519310_n
homemade chicken nuggets with honey mustard, watermelon, carrots, raisins, and a justins mini peanut butter cup.
14590919_217770822015513_5578180477526736896_n
veggies & ranch, pepperoni (nitrate-free), deviled eggs, strawberries, and a piece of chocolate.
14269175_1103603196386654_463753564_n
veggies & ranch, turkey, pretzels, apple slices, and chocolate covered almonds.
14309896_1214096555319582_662666515_n
PB&J (organic natural peanut butter & honey sweetened jam on whole wheat), pretzels, carrots, hummus, plums, and organic gummy bears.
14359465_309156969461245_1652556484669603840_n
PB&J on whole wheat, a plum, popcorn, and a Chomps grass-fed beef stick.
14564855_1608123912824331_3819155614764892160_n
turkey & provolone on whole wheat, grapes, veggies & ranch, and a piece of Kyya chocolate chocolate
16464683_678343429015156_2571266430418812928_n
veggies & homemade ranch, turkey & provolone, grapes, popcorn, & raisins.
15538449_344908505881918_3678102764140888064_n
Applegate pepperoni, pita chips, carrots & ranch, a Sunkist orange, Chobani yogurt, and some chocolate chips.
17818569_189871418190247_1291912255532695552_n
leftover taco meat, mixed with some quinoa I had hanging out in the fridge, fruit, tomatoes, and Chia Bites.
18011255_445067902496827_2838121888209698816_n
PB & honey on whole wheat, deviled eggs, berries, Babybel cheese, pistachios, and yogurt covered pretzels.
Lunch Box
yogurt, strawberries, carrots & ranch, skewers with turkey, cheese, & tomatoes, and some Unreal chocolates.
Whole wheat mini bagel with cream cheese, banana, veggies & ranch, raisins, jerky, and a few chocolate chips.
Whole wheat mini bagel with cream cheese, banana, veggies & ranch, raisins, jerky, and a few chocolate chips.
16228656_359312457787160_3337825815382458368_n
a homemade granola bar, blueberries, veggies & ranch, salami, and raisins.
18014035_767987300039534_6387537523672875008_n
turkey & cheese on whole wheat, Boulder Canyon Kettle Chips, strawberries, and tomatoes.
17934278_1423558784361015_7008508155936112640_n
Easter dinner leftovers packed straight into the @planetbox for lunch tomorrow! Grilled chicken, potato salad, broccoli salad, corn, berries, and rice Krispy treat nest for dessert.
16230196_1573896795961355_662831024207560704_n
Oatmeal & chia seeds, yogurt, a banana, and cucumbers with ranch.
14052701_190078598077564_165170586_n
turkey & cheese roll-ups, watermelon, veggies & homemade ranch, and a mini Larabar.
18380434_1542274672509177_7887545024915701760_n
Strawberries & yogurt, nectarine slices, cherry tomatoes, pretzels, peanut butter & honey tortilla roll-ups, and chocolate covered almonds.
14727572_332707487087332_9201879277476249600_n
Turkey, cheese, & tomato skewers, apple slices, carrots, Pirate’s Booty, and a Justin’s mini Peanut Butter Cup
18949492_100880890511649_3407522379998429184_n
homemade chicken & brown rice soup, grapes, popcorn, and a tiny apple.
15276747_162792594193974_1666966950351208448_n
turkey & cheese lettuce wraps, plums, veggies & ranch, cashews & peanuts, and chocolate chips.
17932332_432464550422607_5326479609976324096_n
Quesadillas, apples, cucumbers, grapes, apples, pistachios, and chocolate covered almonds
18879107_1370347409699870_7010838085499879424_n
Sandwich & fruit
15876765_1811144365808286_7198062062189150208_n
mini whole wheat bagel with cream cheese, veggies & ranch, fruit, yogurt, and chocolate covered almonds.
14488136_1055088697937867_5008011263901433856_n
PB&J sandwich on whole wheat, grapes, cucumbers, & yogurt.
18646078_217978875385330_9001452627153649664_n
Chicken, veggies, fruit, and a My Super Food Granola Bite.
17596444_1916020055295757_7000488747619844096_n
veggies & ranch, jerky, apple slices, popcorn, and a few chocolate chips
18580833_746865212160459_2782015051089838080_n
Taco Salad & fruit
19051059_1820629761585982_685113769805742080_n
PB&J (organic natural PB on whole wheat with honey sweetened jam), carrots & ranch, raspberries, grapes, and a few Unreal candy chocolates.
19367785_432363467145662_3292556048333799424_n
bean burrito,, a pear, carrots, and a fruit rope.
18889124_116364348951470_4322207756707692544_n
Sandwich, strawberries, carrots & ranch, yogurt, and a Justin’s mini peanut butter cup
17495339_793303924171921_507225157937397760_n
PB & honey on whole wheat, strawberries, grapes, cucumbers, carrots, Babybel cheese, & an encouraging note because it’s testing week at our school!
18252166_300182500404436_1729242094947532800_n
Homemade chicken nuggets, homemade honey mustard, veggies, grapes, & chocolate covered almonds.
18380241_1986096964951700_529666757195988992_n
taco salad, salsa, tortilla chips, kiwi, grapes, and trail mix.
19227802_1687205391575553_6150725014225158144_n
berries, veggies & ranch, a whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter & honey, some puffs from @aldiusa (kind of like Pirates Booty), and chocolate covered almonds.
17818470_1319352154822433_3350777233428971520_n
Asian Salad with chicken, Babybel Cheese, Chia Bites, strawberries, pistachios, raisins, and a piece of KYYA Chocolate.
18644785_282193162241640_5215766034669109248_n
pepperoni, pistachios, carrots & radishes with ranch, baked snap peas, kiwi, and a piece of KYYA chocolate.
17587033_274198343006680_7185790850998206464_n
roasted chicken, cucumbers, carrots, strawberries, and chocolate covered almonds.
18444725_1433236803394383_7712121977678331904_n
veggies & ranch, cheese, salami, & crackers, pistachios, apple sauce, and a piece of chocolate.
19932107_118682145410784_7937348121355354112_n
leftover chicken legs, berries, pistachios, carrots and ranch, and a peanut butter cookie bar.
17817839_205080083312200_2110497378216706048_n
veggies & ranch, salami & cheese, fruit, cashews & raisins, Chia Bites, and a few unreal candy chocolates
14478505_609370995916236_2543929990076956672_n
homemade chicken nuggets, cucumbers, pretzels, an apple, and fruit leather