Coming up with easy, healthy school lunches that kids will actually eat can feel like an impossible task. But with a little strategizing and idea-swapping, the job becomes a lot more doable.
Here are some of the things I do to make lunch-packing easier on myself:
- Use a Planetbox. Yes, these are an investment, but they last forever and are set up in a way that facilitates packing a balanced lunch. The compartment sizes are great for kids and adults alike – you can easily adjust portions for different appetites. And these stainless steel boxes really help reduce packaging waste.
- Add a “Lunches” section to my grocery list. When I shop for dinner stuff on the weekends, I ask the kids what kinds of foods they’re hoping to have in their lunches, and they usually give me more than enough ideas. I buy just enough to last one week (or less) so that no food goes to waste.
- Make lunches the night before. Whenever I wait until morning, I regret it. So the night before, I pack all the refrigerated stuff and put the boxes in the fridge. Then the next day I add the non-perishables (so they don’t get too cold or soggy overnight).
- Ask kids for feedback. When something comes home uneaten, I ask Lucy about why she didn’t eat it. Maybe she ran out of time, wasn’t in the mood for a certain food, or was turned off by something I packed because it got soggy, wasn’t cold enough, etc. Her feedback helps guide me, so I can pack things she’s more likely to eat.
- Think of lunches as a collection of food groups (on most days at least):
- Treat, snack or extra little item
Below are some of the lunches my kids have recently enjoyed. If you want more ideas, follow me on Instagram where I post their lunches everyday!
Roast turkey, olive bread with butter, strawberries, cabbage & carrot slaw, Rice Krispie Treat
Berries, whole wheat pita, rice-stuffed grape leaves (from TJ’s), veggies with hummus, nuts & chocolate
Turkey sandwich on a bun, homemade snack mix, satsuma oranges, strawberries, Dang coconut chips
Strawberries, veggies with ranch dip, Mighty Bar meat stick, whole wheat pancake, sunflower seeds
Veggies with ranch, Annie’s fruit snacks, nectarine and strawberries, mini bagel with cream cheese, tempeh
Boiled Vital Farms egg, plums, cheese, snap peas, sour bread with butter, Little Secrets dye-free candies
Strawberries, crackers, Z Bar (or make your own with this recipe), Fork in the Road ham & veggies
Mango, freeze dried banana slices, string cheese, Ezekial raisin English Muffin with butter, cashews
Fresh figs, nectarines, snap peas, grape tomatoes, ham & cream cheese wrap, Whole Foods “Oreo,” peanuts (use seeds if you can’t pack nuts)
Quinn gluten-free pretzels, trail mix, roast turkey, grapes, cherry tomatoes, Stonyfield yogurt pouch
Homemade trail mix, carrot bran muffin, cheese, snap peas, fruit leather, grapes, blueberries, granola bar bites
Edamame, Annie’s popcorn, figs & golden plum, mini bagel with cream cheese, mixed nuts
Pita chips with hummus, Rice Krispie Treat, Fork in the Road ham, apple, persimmon, carrot coins
Veggies with ranch, boiled eggs, mango, watermelon, sourdough baguette with butter, pomegranate seeds
Tiny tomatoes, cherries, homemade snack mix, veggies with hummus, olives, animal cracker