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.


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

Salad w/dressing, turkey on skewers, plums, grapes, and yogurt covered pretzels.
Taco salad, tortilla chips, salsa (in the pink container), fruit, and dark chocolate covered almonds.
Peanut butter & honey roll-ups, cucumbers w/ranch, plums, grapes, and dark chocolate covered almonds.
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.
salad w/ ranch, broiled chicken, peaches, yogurt, and chocolate covered almonds.
Apple slices & peanut butter, The New Primal Grass Fed Beef Jerky, yogurt, cherries and chocolate covered almonds.
Taco salad w/ salsa, cucumber, tomatoes, apples, and chocolate covered almonds.
Fruit, cheese stick, chicken sausage, cashews, yogurt covered pretzels, and a whole wheat pumpkin muffin (recipe from @100daysofrealfood).
Lunch time!
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.
Sandwich, apple slices, cucumbers, pistachios, and chocolate covered almonds.
leftover steak, veggies & ranch, raisins, cashews, and fruit.
Sandwich, carrots & ranch, apple slices, yogurt, and mini M&M’s
Peanut butter & jelly, carrots, cucumber, & broccoli w/ranch, grapes, and yogurt covered pretzels for dessert.
Chicken nuggets & ketchup, pineapple, yogurt, pistachios, and a Justin’s Mini Peanut Butter Cup.
Skewers w/ chicken sausage, cheese, & cherry tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, & ranch, cashews, grapes, & yogurt covered pretzels.
Peanut butter & honey on whole wheat, veggies & ranch, peaches, and chocolate covered almonds.
lettuce & cabbage with chicken, dressing, slivered almonds & chow mein noodles, mandarin oranges, grapes, egg roll, and a few pieces of chocolate.
Salad, yogurt, sweet potato chips, raisins, and cherries.
Watermelon, turkey, veggies & ranch, and pistachios.
salad, plums, whole wheat bagel with cream cheese, and a Justins mini peanut butter cup.
salad, apple slices, yogurt, popcorn, and a piece of Easter candy.
Cucumber, carrots, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds, pretzels, grapes, cottage cheese, salami & cheese on a skewer, and a homemade mini chocolate chip cookie for dessert.
Pork tenderloin w/ bbq sauce, veggies & ranch, fruit, and a MySuperFoods cookie.
a turkey, cheese, & lettuce wrap, pretzels, plums, grapes, broccoli & ranch, and a couple junior mints.
veggies & ranch, ham, raisins, popcorn, and we’re trying something new today- lemon plums.
Leftover pizza, strawberries & kiwi, broccoli & cauliflower, pistachios, and a yogurt covered pretzel.
Halloween lunch! Sandwich, grapes, a cutie, cheese stick, and a Justin’s mini peanut butter cup.
Noosa yogurt, ham slices, carrots & ranch, grapes, and a Justin’s mini peanut butter cup.
Ham & cheese slices, cashews, carrots & ranch, fruit, and Justin’s mini peanut butter cup.
Slider, veggies, fruit, and chocolate chips.
sandwich, fruit, veggies, and trail mix.
fruit, turkey, cashews, carrots & ranch, and chocoate chips
yogurt, Applegate pepperoni, apples & grapes, granola, raisins, and 1/2 a cupcake.
Picnic lunch!
quinoa bites made with ham, broccoli, and cheese, veggies & ranch, strawberries, and organic gummy bears.
chicken pot pie, an apple, a fruit strip, and a larabar.
deli ham, a hard boiled egg, carrots & homemade ranch, local grapes, stonyfield organic yogurt, and a justins mini peanut butter cup.
Lots of fruits & veggies, a turkey stick, a whole wheat banana pancake with peanut butter, and some chocolate covered almonds..\
hamburger veggie soup, crackers, and an apple.
leftover turkey meatballs, watermelon & strawberries, veggies & ranch, raisins, and some MySuperCookies.
Yogurt with chia seeds, ants on a log, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, pretzels, and trail mix.
whole wheat Mac & Cheese with ham, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, and cherry tomatoes.
Salad, fruit, and a min bagel.
Veggies & ranch, Sunkist orange slices, cheese stick, muffin, and chocolate covered almonds.
fruit, veggies, and a homemade whole wheat waffle
Homemade chicken strips, apple slices, pistachios, a cheese stick, and a chocolate chip cookie.
veggies & ranch, cherries, salami, yogurt, and chocolate.
turkey stick, plum slices & raspberries, popcorn, veggies & homemade ranch, a hard boiled egg, and chocolate covered almonds.
veggies & ranch, rasberries, yogurt, and Cliff Bar, and chocolate covered almonds.
cantaloupe, homemade chicken nuggets with honey mustard, a mini cucumber, raisins, and a justins mini peanut butter cup.
arrots & ranch, nitrate free salami, cashews, cottage cheese, fruit, and chocolate pretzels.
yogurt, granola, a banana, carrots & ranch, and chocolate covered raisins.
leftover Coconut Chicken Curry, cantaloupe, and an organic granola bar from Aldi.
organic yogurt, petite grapes, turkey, cucumbers, and a piece of chocolate.
Homemade lunchable
Organic Raisin Bran, organic milk in the thermos, a whole grain peanut butter muffin, a banana, and cherry tomatoes.
leftover chicken, cottage cheese, carrots & cucumber with ranch, strawberries, raisins, and a couple chia seed peanut butter bites.
A power muffin, strawberries, banana, carrots & cucumbers with ranch, cashews, and a couple junior mints for a treat.
Pizza, blackberries, veggies & ranch, and a few chocolate chips.
leftover Harvest Pasta, grapes, a Clifbar, and a berry applesauce pouch.
veggies & ranch, ham & cheese, applesauce, pistachios, and a chocolate chip cookie
Halloween lunch- PB&J on whole wheat, carrots, a banana, raisins, and turkey jerky.
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.
Fish tacos (while wheat tortillas, tilapia, black beans, cheeses, & tomatoes), grapes, and a justins mini peanut butter cup.
sloppy joes, grapes
homemade chicken nuggets with honey mustard, watermelon, carrots, raisins, and a justins mini peanut butter cup.
veggies & ranch, pepperoni (nitrate-free), deviled eggs, strawberries, and a piece of chocolate.
veggies & ranch, turkey, pretzels, apple slices, and chocolate covered almonds.
PB&J (organic natural peanut butter & honey sweetened jam on whole wheat), pretzels, carrots, hummus, plums, and organic gummy bears.
PB&J on whole wheat, a plum, popcorn, and a Chomps grass-fed beef stick.
turkey & provolone on whole wheat, grapes, veggies & ranch, and a piece of Kyya chocolate chocolate
veggies & homemade ranch, turkey & provolone, grapes, popcorn, & raisins.
Applegate pepperoni, pita chips, carrots & ranch, a Sunkist orange, Chobani yogurt, and some chocolate chips.
leftover taco meat, mixed with some quinoa I had hanging out in the fridge, fruit, tomatoes, and Chia Bites.
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.
a homemade granola bar, blueberries, veggies & ranch, salami, and raisins.
turkey & cheese on whole wheat, Boulder Canyon Kettle Chips, strawberries, and tomatoes.
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.
Oatmeal & chia seeds, yogurt, a banana, and cucumbers with ranch.
turkey & cheese roll-ups, watermelon, veggies & homemade ranch, and a mini Larabar.
Strawberries & yogurt, nectarine slices, cherry tomatoes, pretzels, peanut butter & honey tortilla roll-ups, and chocolate covered almonds.
Turkey, cheese, & tomato skewers, apple slices, carrots, Pirate’s Booty, and a Justin’s mini Peanut Butter Cup
homemade chicken & brown rice soup, grapes, popcorn, and a tiny apple.
turkey & cheese lettuce wraps, plums, veggies & ranch, cashews & peanuts, and chocolate chips.
Quesadillas, apples, cucumbers, grapes, apples, pistachios, and chocolate covered almonds
Sandwich & fruit
mini whole wheat bagel with cream cheese, veggies & ranch, fruit, yogurt, and chocolate covered almonds.
PB&J sandwich on whole wheat, grapes, cucumbers, & yogurt.
Chicken, veggies, fruit, and a My Super Food Granola Bite.
veggies & ranch, jerky, apple slices, popcorn, and a few chocolate chips
Taco Salad & fruit
PB&J (organic natural PB on whole wheat with honey sweetened jam), carrots & ranch, raspberries, grapes, and a few Unreal candy chocolates.
bean burrito,, a pear, carrots, and a fruit rope.
Sandwich, strawberries, carrots & ranch, yogurt, and a Justin’s mini peanut butter cup
PB & honey on whole wheat, strawberries, grapes, cucumbers, carrots, Babybel cheese, & an encouraging note because it’s testing week at our school!
Homemade chicken nuggets, homemade honey mustard, veggies, grapes, & chocolate covered almonds.
taco salad, salsa, tortilla chips, kiwi, grapes, and trail mix.
berries, veggies & ranch, a whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter & honey, some puffs from @aldiusa (kind of like Pirates Booty), and chocolate covered almonds.
Asian Salad with chicken, Babybel Cheese, Chia Bites, strawberries, pistachios, raisins, and a piece of KYYA Chocolate.
pepperoni, pistachios, carrots & radishes with ranch, baked snap peas, kiwi, and a piece of KYYA chocolate.
roasted chicken, cucumbers, carrots, strawberries, and chocolate covered almonds.
veggies & ranch, cheese, salami, & crackers, pistachios, apple sauce, and a piece of chocolate.
leftover chicken legs, berries, pistachios, carrots and ranch, and a peanut butter cookie bar.
veggies & ranch, salami & cheese, fruit, cashews & raisins, Chia Bites, and a few unreal candy chocolates
homemade chicken nuggets, cucumbers, pretzels, an apple, and fruit leather