Wondering what to pack in kid's lunchboxes every day? I am sharing lunches that I have packed for over 10+ years for my children. These school lunch box ideas use recipes that are quick, and easy and can be made ahead to save you time during the morning rush. I am also sharing how to pack them for the best taste and texture that the kids will enjoy and request on repeat!
Recently I have received so many requests for kids' school lunch box ideas. Before I share all of my back-to-school lunchbox favorite recipes, and how I meal prep and pack them, I wanted to share what you all requested in my recent poll on facebook. You guys requested recipes that are
✔️ "easy to make and nutritious and easy to eat"
✔️ "made ahead of time"
✔️ "quick, easy, nutritious, and vegetarian that kids will love"
✔️ "mess-free for kids to eat"
Packing Lunch Boxes For 10+ Years
As many of you may already know I have 2 boys who are both teenagers now. I have seen my children grow from picky eaters to more adventurous eaters over the years. Although they enjoy a variety of foods and cuisines now, one thing that has stayed constant is that they did not enjoy the lunches offered in school. And trust me our schools provide some good options for hot lunches. My boys also did not eat cold sandwiches including PB&J (crazy right?)
When they were in daycare and elementary school, I realized that some days they simply didn't touch the lunch boxes no matter what I packed. And if you can relate to this, as much as it is frustrating, I would tell you to not stress much over it. Instead, make sure you spend your time and energy on getting them a healthy breakfast and hearty dinners when they are home with you.
I was a lunchroom volunteer for years when my kids were younger. My observation was that the kids enjoyed this "free time" with friends having lots of fun and letting loose. This also meant that some may not have enough time to finish their lunches in the relatively short lunch breaks. So please don't blame yourself for not packing the best lunches or the food not being hot, etc. It's just the kids (especially younger) being kids and having fun and making those lifelong friendships!
How To Get Kids To Eat Lunch
Start by having a discussion with them at home and shortlist the foods they would like in their lunch boxes. Shortlist meals that they can enjoy at room temperature as many schools do not have the facility to warm up lunches. For my kids, it was mostly foods that they can pick by hand and eat without much mess. So I often pack quesadillas, rolled-up parathas, and sandwiches. My kids also enjoyed a variety of pasta and fried rice that stays relatively warm in an insulated thermos. The biggest advice I would give is to NEVER punish them for not finishing the lunches. Simply keep encouraging them to eat their lunch using kind words.
Snacks in LunchBox?
With my children, I noticed that if I gave them several options (Bento Box Style) they often picked the "treat" or "snack" rather than the main food. So I started to pack their snacks separately which they enjoyed during their afterschool program. And now that they come home after school, they get to choose their snacks. This allowed me to focus only on one main thing to pack and also fewer decisions for the kids when they ate :-). Although, in this lunch box collection I have included a "healthy" side idea for you if you wish to pack it.
Favorite School Lunch Containers
- Lunchbox with Removable Divider - Perfect for sandwiches, quesadillas, parathas, and wraps. Also perfect for PBJ sandwiches, cold sandwiches, etc which sadly my children never ate.
- Insulated Food Jar with Spoon - Great for hot foods like pasta, fried rice, noodles, and soups. In each of the lunch box ideas I explain how to use this jar so the food stays relatively "hot"
- Lunch Bag - We have gone through many lunch bags over the years. I would suggest having your child pick the lunch bag that they like! We have been using this insulated lunch bag lately and love that it can be wiped clean easily inside and out.
I hope you found these lunch box recipes helpful. I hope you get ideas on how to plan and make ahead kids' lunches. Make your mornings a bit more relaxed and enjoyable as the kids (and you) head out for the day. Even if you find one or two recipes from this list that make it to a repeat list, it's a "goal achieved" for me.
As always I will love your feedback. Let me know which recipes worked for you and which did not. Let me know if you would like me to add a specific recipe to this list. Lastly, enjoy every moment with your child, they grow up too fast!