These fun and healthy School Lunchbox Ideas will make packing lunches for your kids a little easier and a lot more fun!
Making Work Fun
One of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked over the years is, “What do you pack in the kids’ lunch boxes?” I remember being so overwhelmed when they all first started school five days a week. What would I put in their lunches? Would they actually eat it? Was it enough food for them? How much time would I need to allow in the mornings to pack their lunchboxes?
Well, now that we’ve gotten the hang of things, I feel like I’ve finally got it down. Now I can pretty much pack their lunchboxes without drinking coffee first. And that’s saying something!
The kids love helping me pack their lunchboxes. They get so excited about what they’ll get to eat that day at school and they get a kick out of promising me that they’re going to eat their fruits and veggies before their “dessert”.
Aim for Sustainable
I started out packing them sack lunches with all these little baggies of food. What was I thinking? So wasteful and probably a bit overwhelming for them come lunchtime.
A friend of mine recommended these bento lunchbox containers from Pottery Barn Kids so I ran out and got three of them along with the monogrammed lunch bags to carry them in. These bento boxes are awesome! The compartments are so great for helping me make sure I include a healthy variety of foods in good portions.
They’re so easy to wash in the dishwasher and perfect for the boys to eat right out of during lunchtime. We’ve had them for over 5 years now and they have held up so great.
Buying in Bulk
To make packing lunches as easy as possible and to have plenty of food on hand to pack three lunchboxes five days a week, I try to buy as much in bulk as possible. I love Costco for this because they have so many great healthy, kid-friendly items to choose from. Here’s a glimpse of some of the lunchbox staples I buy at Costco.
How Much Will They Eat?
Our school is so great about leaving any uneaten food in the lunchboxes so I know what they ate and didn’t eat that day at lunch. This has helped me so much in learning what are actually good things to pack in their lunches.
If your school doesn’t do this, ask them if they wouldn’t mind so you actually know what and how much they’re eating. The boys usually don’t have much left in their lunchboxes these days, but if they do, I actually have them eat it as their snack when we get home from school instead of throwing it away.
Simple Ideas to Bring the Cute
Make them feel special with these super easy and super cute touches that they’ll love finding in their daily lunch.
- Banana-grams: Write a sweet message on the banana peel with a sharpie. It takes just a few seconds and is sure to bring a smile to their faces.
- Festive Babybel cheeses: Cut festive shapes out of the red wax using mini cookie cutters (hearts, stars, flowers).
- Funny Face Mandarin orange: Decorate an orange or mandarin orange with a Sharpie. Silly faces or even a simple smiley face can turn an okay day into a great day.
- Fun shaped foods: Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches, fruits and veggies in to fun shapes
Fun and Healthy School Lunch Ideas for Kids
Over the years, I’ve gotten lunch boxes down to a science. I keep a rotating menu of ingredients the kids love so I can quickly pull together fun, healthy and easy school lunches I know they’ll love. The kids love the variety and I love the ease! Here are some of our favorite combinations.
A Heart-y Meal
- Heart Shaped Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich
- Heart Shaped Crackers
- Heart Shaped Strawberries
- Babybel cheese with a heart shape pressed out of the red wax
- Banana-gram – a heart and “I LOVE YOU!” written on the banana peel with a Sharpie
Over the Rainbow
- “Clouds” – peanut butter banana tortilla roll-ups
- Red – strawberries
- Orange – mandarin oranges
- Yellow – mango chunks
- Green – green grapes
- Blue – blueberries
- Funny Face Mandarin orange – decorated with a Sharpie
- Banana-gram – “Happy 1st Day!” written on the banana peel with a Sharpie
Greek to Me
- Mini hummus packet
- Whole wheat pita
- Baby carrots
- Cherry tomatoes
- Mini granola bar
Peanut Butter & Banana Classic
- Peanut butter & banana sandwich on whole wheat bread (if your school is peanut-free, try sunflower seed butter, apple butter, another nut butter such as almond butter, etc.)
- Pretzel chips
- Applesauce pack
- Animal crackers
Breakfast For Lunch
Grilled Cheese, If You Please
Build your own parfait with:
- Greek yogurt
- Granola and cheerios
- Yogurt covered raisins
Tips & Tricks:
- If your kids are little, you can cut their cherry tomatoes and grapes in half and steam the carrots to make them easier and safer for them to eat.
- Make the quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches the night before to save time in the morning. I’ll make them while I’m making dinner or cleaning up from dinner and just store them in the refrigerator overnight. Most of the time though, I just make them while I’m making breakfast.
- Pack lunch boxes the night before and store them in the refrigerator overnight if you have room. We don’t normally have room for four lunchboxes in the fridge.
- Use leftovers! I occasionally use leftovers in lunch boxes like mac & cheese, pizza taquitos, muffins, baked chicken nuggets, hotdogs, etc., just for variety. These foods taste great at room temperature.
I hope these ideas help make your life a little easier when it comes to packing lunches and hopefully your kiddos will love their lunches too! If you use any of these fun and healthy lunchbox combos, be sure to tag me on Instagram @thebakermama so I can see! 😍 I just love seeing how inspired and creative y’all get with the ideas I share. Enjoy!