School Lunch Roundup IV (Also great for picnics, camps, road trips, and the pool!)
By Lisa, on May 29th, 2013
The school year is coming to a close, but I didn’t want it to end without sharing one more summary of the school lunches I’ve been packing and posting on my Facebook page this year (almost daily!). And as summer is upon us I want to make it clear that these lunch ideas could go far beyond just the school cafeteria. I find myself packing food for the kids all summer long for outdoor picnics, day camps, long road trips, zoo outings, museum visits, and afternoons at the pool. The plastic divided containers (pictured below) are perfect for all of these occasions and are an especially great way to keep road trip lunches mess-free (and waste-free) since the containers serve as your “plate” once you take off the lid. I hope your summer is full of fun activities and travel plans!
To learn more about the lunches we pack here are some links to get you started…
Curry chicken salad, whole wheat “ak-mak” brand crackers, cantaloupe, and a small spinach salad with cheese, toasted almonds and olive oil.
Leftover homemade whole-wheat waffles, oranges/carrots, honey dew melon with strawberries and blueberries, and (to dip the waffles into) plain yogurt mixed with a little maple syrup and vanilla extract.
Creamy whole-wheat mac and cheese mixed with frozen peas and carrots, cantaloupe, and store bought organic applesauce in a reusable Squooshi pouch.
Brown rice mixed with organic soy sauce and avocado (served cold), mandarin oranges, leftover baked sweet potato “fries,” and blueberries.
Whole-grain (Ezekial brand) pita “crusts,” tomato sauce, and cheese (so she can make her own pizza), orange slices, pistachios, and a salad with spinach/almonds/raisins.
Oranges, homemade whole-wheat chicken nuggets (defrosted from freezer and served cold), honey mustard dipping sauce (equal parts honey and mustard), whole-grain cornbread muffin (also made in advance and defrosted), and dried apple chips.
Homemade tomato bisque (defrosted from freezer and served warm in thermos), whole-wheat raspberry muffin, honey dew melon, local strawberries, and an organic cheese stick.
Hummus/cheese/lettuce sandwich, carrot & cucumber slices, cantaloupe, and a trail mix with whole-wheat pretzels, organic popcorn, and raisins.
For Valentine’s Day: Heart-shaped cream cheese and strawberry jam sandwich, heart-shaped apple slices, a little spinach salad topped with olive oil and her favorite cheese (Parmesan) in the shape of hearts of course, and a peanut/cashew/raisin trail mix.
Whole-grain zucchini muffin, frozen banana/berry/yogurt/spinach smoothie pop, whole-wheat pretzels (“Unique” brand sprouted grain variety), unsweetened organic applesauce, and a small salad topped with toasted almonds and carrot shreds plus homemade dressing on the side.
Whole-grain blueberry muffin, organic ham (a very rare purchase for us) rolled up with cheese on fun toothpicks, carrots/cucumbers, plain yogurt mixed with a little honey & vanilla extract, and homemade granola to mix into the yogurt.
Chili (previously made and frozen), a whole-grain cornbread muffin (also previously made and frozen), diced mango, a carrot, a dollop of sour cream (to go on top of the chili), and water to drink.
Cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and toasted whole-wheat pita “chips” all to dip into the hummus as well as some melon that we picked up from the Asian market (called Hami I believe).
Homemade whole-wheat heart-shaped biscuit (leftover from dinner), frozen banana/berry/spinach/plain yogurt smoothie pop, apple slices, leftover salad from dinner (with pears and pecans), and a roasted peanut/raw pumpkin seed mix.
Homemade whole-wheat pop tart (defrosted from freezer), cucumbers, red bell peppers, hummus, cheese cubes, and apples.
Cream cheese and jam whole-wheat “Uncrustable” sandwich, carrot sticks, strawberry, and deviled eggs (made with sour cream instead of mayo).
Leftover homemade potato soup (warm in thermos) and an apple/sunflower seed butter sandwich.
Cream cheese and jam on whole-wheat (in a butterfly shape!), popcorn, carrot sticks, and a hard-boiled egg.
Whole-wheat waffle and cream cheese sandwich, diced apples and cheddar cheese, homemade trail mix (peanuts/cashews/raisins), and kiwi.
Warm refried beans topped with cheese and sour cream on the side, a banana with an almond butter packet, and frozen peas.
BLT sandwich (organic bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo on an Ezekiel brand whole-grain bun), pineapple chunks, plain yogurt mixed with berry sauce, and homemade granola (to mix into yogurt).
Frozen berry/spinach/banana/plain yogurt smoothie pop, nut-free trail mix (pumpkin seeds/sunflower seeds/raisins), whole-grain pumpkin muffin (defrosted from freezer), canned mandarin oranges (canned in OJ instead of syrup), and cucumber and radish slices.
Sunflower seed butter and homemade jam on Ezekiel whole-wheat bread, Babybel cheese, a small salad with carrots/Parmesan/raisins/pumpkin seeds/olive oil, a rare purchase of store bought 100% whole-wheat graham crackers (Mi-Del brand), and sliced blood red oranges.
Leftover homemade whole-wheat (cold) pizza, diced pineapple, red and green bell pepper slices, and hummus for dipping.
Homemade tomato bisque (served warm with whole-wheat noodles in it), apple/sunflower seed butter sandwich, leftover (cold) broccoli topped with parmesan cheese, and water.
Whole-wheat woven crackers (Trader Joe’s brand), cheddar cheese slices, watermelon, sugar snap peas (from the farmers’ market), and carrots.
Leftover chicken taquito from dinner (chopped up), a mixture of sour cream and green tomato relish for dipping (the relish is kind of like salsa), apple slices, Lara Bar, and canned organic mandarin oranges (that are BPA-free / packed in OJ).
Whole-grain raisin bread (Ezekiel brand) and organic cream cheese sandwiches, frozen smoothie pop (plain yogurt/bananas/berries/Swiss chard leaves), honey dew melon, strawberries, and a homemade trail mix (raw pumpkin seeds, dried apple rings, & whole-grain organic corn puffs).
Three pieces of whole-wheat “pizza toast” (served cold), sliced oranges, “ants on a log” (celery/sunflower seed butter/raisins), and frozen peas.
Homemade pimento cheese, whole-grain (Ak-mak brand) crackers, frozen peas (in the monster bag), apple slices, and trail mix (cashews/almonds/peanuts/dried fruit).
Whole-wheat pita (from Trader Joe’s) stuffed with homemade hummus, white cheddar & lettuce, a rare treat of Kettle brand potato chips, carrots/celery/cucumber mix and a little homemade sour cream-based onion dip for both her chips and veggies.
Whole-wheat noodles and homemade meatballs in the thermos and an apple/peanut butter sandwich.
Homemade chicken noodle soup (defrosted from freezer and served warm in thermos), whole-grain pumpkin muffin, and caprese salad (tomatoes/mozzarella/basil pesto).
When we recently went camping I used our divided lunch tray as a way to pack appetizers for all the campers! It worked out perfectly.
Carrots, hummus, roasted almonds, pistachios, and olives.
What are your favorite packed lunch combinations? Please share in the comments.
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Hello I love all your recipes and ideas! Thank you for all you do Lisa! I was wondering how you figure out the ratio of what goes in these lunches? Do you just try to do a carb a protein fruit & veggie? Or really no system at all?
Hi Daanna. Lisa tries to to make certain her girl’s lunches are both balanced and varied. She doesn’t stress about it and is confident that at the week’s end, her girls have been fed very well. ~Amy
[…] For ideas on what “real food” to pack using these school lunch supplies the check out my recent School Lunch Roundup post! […]
I have tried to do the make-your-own pizzas. What kind of cheese do you use? I tried to grate fresh mozzarella, and it was a total disaster. Is there a better way to do it, or should I be using a different cheese? – Thanks!!
Hi Emily. An aged block of mozzarella is easier to grate than fresh. When using fresh, you may want to try thin slices instead of grating it.
Starting to gather ideas for Back to School! I notice in one of your photos, you include whole grain organic corn puffs. Is there a brand you can recommend?
Hi there, Amy. Lisa buy a variety of puffed 100% cereal grains. You can find them at stores like Earth Fare and Whole Foods. The store brands are fine. ~Amy
What brand(s) of pretzels do you buy? Popcorn?
Hi Jana. Lisa buys whole wheat pretzels from Trader Joes. Look for organic popcorn. ~Amy
Also what brand/kind of crackers do u buy? Thanks again!
Ak Mak and Crunch Master.
Just double checking before I order the lands end lunchbox…. Do the divided plastic containers fit with a thermos bottle? Of the one million lunch Boxes I have now, the plastic container does not fit. I tried finding a picture in the school round up posts, but did not see one…tha nks for you help!!
Hi Allison. There is a pouch for the thermos on the side of the bag.