School Lunch Roundup!

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.
  • All of the school lunch supplies we use including the divided lunchbox containers, thermos cups, and freezie pop molds are detailed on my kitchen essentials page. The lunchbox containers fit nicely (with a drink cup) in both Lands End and Old Navy cloth rectangular lunch boxes.
  • 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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  • Comments

    1. Tina |

      Hello, I’m looking for suggestions for teenage boy real food lunches. My boys are very active with football, wrestling, baseball, cross country, and any other sport they can find time to play. They can afford larger portions and need the energy. Many of the meals above would work I’d just have to triple the serving sizes? They pack food for lunch and after school before game nights

    2. Michele |

      I love all of your lunches. They look fantastic. I am wondering about the apples. How do you keep them from turning brown & yucky? Please advise.

      Thank you.

    3. Michele |

      Ooops…I see that the same question was asked earlier, just saw the answer. Thanks.

    4. Amy Taylor (comment moderator) |

      Hi Michele. Lisa’s girls don’t mind if the apple brown a little. You could always use lemon juice or another citrus.

    5. Kind Mom |

      Can I have your bagel recipe? I want to try to make my own and aside from using organic whole wheat flour, I’m not sure how to make the traditional recipe more friendly on my toddler’s system. If that’s the best change I can make, then that’s totally fine. Unless there is organic yeast that I’m not aware of. Thank you!!

      • Amy Taylor (comment moderator) |

        Hi there. Lisa does not have a bagel recipe that she feels she’s perfected enough to share. :)

    6. Rhonda |

      I am recently starting as a cook at a daycare, early education center and could use some healthy recipes/ ideas to start my job off on the right foot, while bringing new creations to a somewhat redundant boring menu, any info would be great thanks!!!!

    7. Warren small |


    8. Jeff Savoie |

      I noticed that all of the lunches featured were in plastic containters. By now everyone knows of the evils of BPA, so I am sure the containers are BPA free. However, “BPA-free” plastic contains other chemicals that are simply not good for humans, especially growing kids:

    9. Tress |

      Sadly, a lot of these lunch ideas contain nuts/peanuts/peanut butter and that’s forbidden in schools where I’m from due to allergies.

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