I’ve been sharing my kids’ school lunches on facebook quite frequently this year, and in an effort to put all those pictures in one easy-to-reference place they have all been reposted below. Also, I seem to get a lot of comments/questions/etc. when I share these on facebook so I’d like to start off by addressing a few of the more common ones…
I’ve written a post that includes everything you could ever want to know about the colorful “freezie pop molds” that I use frequently to add smoothies to their lunches.
Some readers ask if these lunches provide enough food for my children and while I am probably not spot-on with portion size 100% of the time, the short answer is “yes.” First of all, “real food” is a lot more filling than highly processed food (especially the refined grain stuff like white flour). Secondly, portion sizes are getting out of control in America and have unfortunately skewed the public’s view of what is appropriate. Thirdly, my children are children (ages 7 and almost 5), and my 1st grader has little more than 15 – 20 minutes to eat (and socialize of course!). Lastly, both my children eat after-school snacks, and my older daughter has oatmeal (in a thermos) for her morning snack everyday less than an hour and a half before lunch. Okay, got that off my chest.
A few occasionally ask if these lunches have enough protein. First of all, part of eating a “real food” diet means you no longer have to count calories, fat grams, protein, carbs, etc. You simply eat a variety of whole foods (including lots of veggies) without “overeating” and the rest will just fall into place. It’s kind of nice not to have to worry about that stuff anymore. But, if you aren’t quite ready to forget about your daily protein intake please know there are MANY sources high in protein aside from just meat products such as yogurt, eggs, cheese, cream cheese, nuts (including peanut butter), seeds (including sunflower butter), and beans. When we switched to a “real food” diet we purposely reduced our meat consumption.
I make most of the pictured baked goods (like muffins and pancakes) in advance and store them in our freezer. So when I am packing school lunches the night before I just pull out what I need so it can defrost in the fridge overnight. Almost all of the recipes I used can be found on the blog…just use the search box at the top right of the page to find what you are looking for!
Also, I’d like to note that my 1st grader goes to a peanut/tree nut-free school so I often use sunflower butter and cream cheese as an alternative to peanut butter.
So without further ado here is the School Lunch Roundup! And please feel free to share you “real food” school lunch ideas in the comments below…
Triple-decker apple & peanut butter sandwich, organic cheese stick, a homemade (and kinda squished) butterfly-shaped whole-wheat biscuit, and frozen peas & corn
Frozen smoothie pop with berries/yogurt/kale/sunflower butter, 3 mini whole-wheat pumpkin muffins, apples, and popcorn
Heart shaped peanut butter & honey sandwich (I put the scraps in the freezer to save for stuffing/croutons/breadcrumbs/etc.), fruit mix including oranges and kiwi, organic cheese stick, and Kettle brand baked potato chips
Hummus/cheese/lettuce on a whole-wheat pita (Trader Joe's brand - only 6 ingredients), caprese salad with pesto, hard boiled egg, and a raw nut/raisin trail mix pack
I was feeling creative this day Bread/fruit/cheese pinwheel kabobs, a mix of puffed brown rice cereal & sunflower seeds, and frozen peas/corn mix
Leftover cold cheese pizza (with a whole-wheat crust that she helped make the night before), store-bought organic applesauce, 1/2 banana, and a trail mix with some cashews/pistachios/raisins
One of my older daughter's favorites: Tomato bisque soup with whole-wheat spiral noodles floating in it, an apple sandwich with sunflower butter & raisins, a cornbread muffin, and water (I send water everyday)
Half of whole-wheat banana pancake sandwich with cream cheese in the middle, 2 whole-wheat ebleskiver "round" pancakes, organic apples, plain yogurt mixed with a little maple syrup, vanilla extract, bananas, and homemade granola
Sunflower butter and all fruit jelly on five Ak-Mak whole-grain crackers, local strawberries, and carrots/celery
Frozen PB&J smoothie pop (with sunflower butter and spinach), "ants on a log" (celery with sunflower butter and raisins), leftover deviled eggs, and a whole-wheat blueberry muffin.
Cold homemade pizza lunchables with some sliced apples (in a new little monster-themed "Wexy bag" which are bpa-free biodegradable baggies)
Applegate Farms organic ham with cheese rolled up inside, carrots, mango, and a whole-grain cornbread muffin
Heart-shaped pancake sandwich with cream cheese and strawberry jelly in the middle, little heart fruit pieces (including strawberries, pear & melon), and applesauce
Frozen smoothie pop (plain yogurt/sunflower butter/berries/bananas/kale), hard boiled egg, carrots, and a whole-wheat banana muffin
Cream cheese/cinnamon/raisin/sunflower seed sandwich (my daughter's creation), apples/blueberries/mango, and carrots
Cold homemade whole-wheat pizza, frozen peas, and a fruit mix including melon & kiwi
Leftover vegetable/pork/bean quesadillas on homemade whole-wheat tortillas, organic pear slices, and a rare surprise (a treat!) store bought whole-wheat graham crackers
Peanut butter & honey sandwich, apples/carrots, hummus, and (in the Wexy bag) whole-wheat pretzels
Whole-grain cornbread muffin, organic ham (rolled up), carrots, and a frozen smoothie pop (made with berries, yogurt, & kale)
Homemade whole-wheat cinnamon raisin bagel with organic cream cheese, hard boiled egg, and apple
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Hi, I have three kids and I made 100% of their school lunches last year, everyday with out fail. All from whole unprocessed foods…luckily for my kiddos, they get a full 30 minutes to eat and a snack..so I have to pack bigger lunches(and my 7 year old is a rail thin bottomless pit-his lunches are also gluten and dairy free as well)…..for people who think it can’t be done..I have two words-FRUITS and VEGGIES!! filling, easy, quick, healthy, a whole apple, a couple kiwis…carrots and hummus…you can do it moms and dads!! We lived in South Korea for a year, and there is little to no “kid food” there….good job on feeding them such healthy meals..nourishing IS nurturing! which is at the core of parenting…My oldest is in middle schools and they serve greasy pizza, fries and hot cheetos EVERYDAY-plus all sorts of other bad things you can by…little to zero fresh fruit or veggies..and the amount of obese children in her school is —staggering–there is just no other word for. It’s tragic-and the health of children should be a concern for national security IMO.
oh and ps..costco has a KILLER deal on Organic frozen choppped mangoes…10$ for a HUGE bag!!they are super good in everything from rice to fruit salad to plain frozen or plain thawed out!
[...] Looking for more ideas for those lunch boxes? I found a ton of creative ideas here! [...]
[...] look at these beauties offered up at 100 Days of Real Food – including 10 [...]
Is there a trick to keeping the fruit from turning brown?
Hi Courtney. You can use lemon, lime, or other citrus juice. Lemon seems to do the best. ~Amy
Wow, I’m so impressed. We switched schools this year and I have to make lunch every day for three kids with very different tastes. Your school lunches post helps me with my biggest problem – coming up with ideas! Thank you!
Awesome…needed some inspiration! My 6 children are a little picky and I have been trying to pack healthy lunches they enjoy for since the first started school. Thank you! Do the pops stay frozen until lunch or are they drinkable…if so do they ever end up leaking?
Hi Lisa. No, they do not stay frozen but they are cold and sometimes slushie. You have to make sure you wedge them in the container as Lisa shows in the photos on this post or they can leak. ~Amy
Kids lunches?? Shoot, I’m almost 23 and am making notes from this list about which of these things I’d like to bring for my own lunch at work! Love the pinwheel kabobs and heart-themed lunches; again, even at my age, it’d put a smile on my face to open my lunch bag and see that!
What is the bread used for the homemade pizzas lunch? Thanks!
Hi. Those are 100% whole wheat pitas cut into triangles.
I didn’t see any, but did you make the wholewheat pitas yourself? If not, I have fab recipe!
Hi there. Do share. I think those came from Trader Joe’s. ~Amy
[...] Idea [...]
How do you make the cinnamon raisin bagels? I’ve seen the recipe for the cinnamon raisin bread, but would love to see how you use it to make bagels.
Hi Michelle. Lisa has not perfected her bagel recipe yet. ~Amy
Hi there, THANK YOU for all your amazing ideas! The containers alone have made packing lunch so much easier.
I am sure you have answered this somewhere, though I promise I searched – but do you make popcorn ahead? If so, how do you keep it yummy and for how long?
Hi Danielle. I so love popcorn! While it is rather simple to make popcorn as you need it, it will keep fine overnight in the bag it was popped in. You can also put it in an airtight container (once it is cooled) and it will stay fresh tasting for a few days. ~Amy
Where do you buy the “container” for the frozen smoothie pops? I have never seen that before.
[...] I like to have one night per week when I don’t have to be “creative” with packing school lunches. I make big batches of their favorite soups in advance, freeze them in individual jelly jars [...]