School Lunch Roundup IV (Also great for picnics, camps, road trips, and the pool!)

The school year is coming to a close, but I didn’t want it to end without sharing one more installment for the School Lunch Roundup Series, showing what 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…

School Lunch Roundup Photos

March 7
Curry chicken salad, whole wheat “ak-mak” brand crackers, cantaloupe, and a small spinach salad with cheese, toasted almonds and olive oil.
April 22
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.

April 17
Creamy whole-wheat mac and cheese mixed with frozen peas and carrots, cantaloupe, and store bought organic applesauce in a reusable Squooshi pouch.
May 7
Brown rice mixed with organic soy sauce and avocado (served cold), mandarin oranges, leftover baked sweet potato “fries,” and blueberries.
Feb 14
Heart-shaped grilled cheese sandwich (served cold), carrot sticks, popcorn, leftover broccoli, and applesauce.
April 19
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.
Feb 28
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.
May 15
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.
Feb 19
Hummus/cheese/lettuce sandwich, carrot & cucumber slices, cantaloupe, and a trail mix with whole-wheat pretzels, organic popcorn, and raisins.
Feb 7
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.
Feb 12
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.
April 11
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.
Feb 20
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.
April 24
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).
Feb 21
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.
Feb 25
Homemade whole-wheat pop tart (defrosted from freezer), cucumbers, red bell peppers, hummus, cheese cubes, and apples.
March 4
Cream cheese and jam whole-wheat “Uncrustable” sandwich, carrot sticks, strawberry, and deviled eggs (made with sour cream instead of mayo).
March 5
Leftover homemade potato soup (warm in thermos) and an apple/sunflower seed butter sandwich.
March 6
Cream cheese and jam on whole-wheat (in a butterfly shape!), popcorn, carrot sticks, and a hard-boiled egg.
March 11
Whole-wheat waffle and cream cheese sandwich, diced apples and cheddar cheese, homemade trail mix (peanuts/cashews/raisins), and kiwi.
March 19
Warm refried beans topped with cheese and sour cream on the side, a banana with an almond butter packet, and frozen peas.
March 25
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).
March 28
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.
April 12
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.
April 29
Leftover homemade whole-wheat (cold) pizza, diced pineapple, red and green bell pepper slices, and hummus for dipping.
May 8
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.
May 13
Whole-wheat woven crackers (Trader Joe’s brand), cheddar cheese slices, watermelon, sugar snap peas (from the farmers’ market), and carrots.
April 9
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).
May 16
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).
May 17
Three pieces of whole-wheat “pizza toast” (served cold), sliced oranges, “ants on a log” (celery/sunflower seed butter/raisins), and frozen peas.
May 21
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).
Feb 5
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.
Feb 6
Whole-wheat noodles and homemade meatballs in the thermos and an apple/peanut butter sandwich.
May 29
Homemade chicken noodle soup (defrosted from freezer and served warm in thermos), whole-grain pumpkin muffin, and caprese salad (tomatoes/mozzarella/basil pesto).

Bonus

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.

Appetizers
Carrots, hummus, roasted almonds, pistachios, and olives.

What are your favorite packed lunch combinations? Please share in the comments.

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128 thoughts on “School Lunch Roundup IV (Also great for picnics, camps, road trips, and the pool!)”

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      They are typically dressed when packed. You can also pack a small container if you prefer to keep it separate.

  1. Thanks for the fantastic insight. I’m left in charge of packing my son’s lunch and although I’m pretty creative I do appreciate the pictures and information you’ve shared. It certainly will e useful as I plan out a new school year.

    Happy eating and thanks again.

    Doug

  2. Hello! I recently read in a a publication from Healthy Green Schools that Baby Bel cheese contains GMO RBGH. Do you know if this is still true? The booklet also said Pirate’s Booty is GMO but their website indicates they now offer some non-GMO products. I can’t find anything with an update on Baby Bel. Thank you in advance for any info you have!

  3. Hello! My hubby just got a new job that requires him being on the road for lunch. These meals look awesome! They are perfect. So many healthy varieties… Thank you so much for sharing!!! <3

  4. How do you pack hot and cold foods together in the same lunch? For example, the tomato bisque and cheesestick and muffin. Where do you put the ice pack for the cheese stick without making the soup cold?
    Thanks.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Jen. The ice pack goes under or around the portion you want to keep cold. Also, the contents of the thermos should not be affected much from an ice pack. I typically further separate the thermos and cold items with a cloth napkin. :)

  5. Jaqueline Covarrubias

    Loved your lunch ideas and I really appreciate the point that you openly tell as brands and stores :) Thank you so much!!!

  6. Alison Clayton

    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!!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Jana. Lisa buys whole wheat pretzels from Trader Joes. Look for organic popcorn. :) ~Amy

  7. 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?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      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

  8. Hi,
    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!!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      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. :)

  9. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

    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

  10. 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?

  11. I am wondering about the popcorn. Do you use anything to flavor it, or is it just air-popped, plain popcorn? Thanks!

  12. Hi Lisa,
    I saw Babybel cheese on here. Is this a staple for you guys? I just wanted to know b/c I’ve been buying it lately at Costco and didn’t know if it was a “sometimes” food?
    THanks,
    Mindy

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi there. The Baby Bell cheese is great for its short ingredient list but it is not organic. For me it would be a sometimes food because avoiding non-organic dairy or non-grass-fed/pasture raised dairy is important to me. ~Amy

  13. Hi! I love your site! We’re slowly trying to move to an unprocessed life. It’s a daily challenge with our incredibly picky 3 yr old. I notice that you often have yogurt in your girls lunches and was wondering if there were ratios of how much maple syrup and vanilla extract you add to plain yogurt. My moms group is having a yogurt station for our meeting this week and wanted to offer a better yogurt option for them. thank you so much!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hello Jeanette. Getting back to this after your meeting. Sorry about that. Did you try it out? For a single serving of yogurt, I use just a drop or two of vanilla and about a tsp of honey or maple. It may take a little trial and error to get it to the flavor you like. ~Amy

  14. Love your ideas! Question – where is your large stainless steel container with separate compartments from? (With this this lunch in it: 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. – I want it! I’m not a fan of using plastic containers :) thanks!

  15. My daughter goes into kindergarten next year and I just keep stockpiling all of your awesome lunch ideas and pictures for when I send her lunches to school with you. I am so inspired by all that you do to keep your family healthy…and eating real food.

  16. These lunches all look amazing, and being an adult, I would love them all! The problem that I see is that I know that I would’ve traded these lunches away when I was in school. Spinach salad? Rice and avocados? As delicious as I would find that now, I wouldn’t have wanted any of this for lunch at school. I think the lunches have to be a little more kid friendly, or you’ll find your child eating four traded puddings for lunch like me and my friends did.

  17. Hi, I know you review products often so maybe you have already done a review/recommendation of the Sqooshie pouch. We now live in a country where I can’t buy the baby food/applesauce in pouches. I just found out now that there are a bunch of refillable/reusable pouches out there that I can order, thanks to your blog. Is Sqooshie brand the brand you would most recommend, have you tried others? I bought the norpro posicle holders on your reommendation and love them. Thanks a lot.

  18. I love your little dressing container pictured in the “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.” lunch. Can you tell me who makes it? Or are there other condiment containers you recommend? Thank you!

  19. I have a 2.5 yr old who isn’t fond of veggies and only some fruits. I’d like to start offering better food choices (she would happily eat noodles for every meal if I allowed it). Where would I start? I am a single parent who doesn’t care to cook much so we do a lot of microwave, frozen, processed meals. I stay home so have the time to make things, etc. but need a little nudge in the right direction. Thanks!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Tracy. Hey, the first step is the hardest! Here are a couple posts that should do well as a nudge: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/04/12/newsflash-we-are-not-just-fine/ and https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/10/21/real-food-tips-10-reasons-to-cut-out-processed-food/. Also, Lisa has done a number of posts on picky eaters. Here is one to get you started: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/12/07/picky-eater-vs-problem-feeder/. Best of luck. You CAN do this. :) ~Amy

  20. I love love love your site! I just have a question maybe someone could answer. Do you have a way of keeping your apple sandwiches from browning by lunch? Would lemon juice work?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hello Juanima. Lemon juice will work fine. It does make the apples a little more sour. A reader suggested using pineapple juice but I’ve not tried it. ~Amy

  21. Hi Lisa and staff! I seem to find myself coming to your blog every other day or so. It’s such a great resource. I’m asking a question that I remember seeing an answer to, but I can’t find it. Apologies!! In some of these pics, you have an adorable hot pink silicone flower-shaped cup. I have quite a collection of different types of silicone baking liners, and see the links to other silicone baking cups, but I was wondering where that particular one came from? I’ve been on the hunt for that shape (hopefully in mulitple colors!) for several years with no real luck, except a black and brick red combo I found on Amazon. Someone could make a lot of money if they’d sell that shape on Amazon. I love the black/brick red ones, but am looking for some other colors. They’re much stiffer than the other silicone cupcake liners.

  22. I worked full time as a nurse for most of my children’s lives. I found taking an evening to make sandwiches with them and freezing them individually wrapped back in the bread bag made life easier. I discovered PB and J on raisin, Ham and cheese, tuna/ salmon salad made with cream cheese, onion and a bit of mayo,on whole wheat, pastrami on rye, chicken salad with cream cheese on a Kaiser..etc all froze well. I kept sliced Roma tomatoes and lettuce in the fridge to be added in a container in the morning for dressing up the sandwiches worked well. I froze leftover home made soups and spaghetti, in plastic containers and then popped them out to throw into a ziplock bag in the freezer for storage…same with stew. In the morning just heat and put in a thermos. Made many logs of slice and bake cookies and muffins to throw in the oven when ever it was on. I could put together 4 kids lunches and my own in less than 5 mins in the morning. Our schools did not allow disposable containers of any kind so I also would freeze fruit in plastic containers and pop them out for bulk freezing, sticking them back in containers for lunches.
    Breakfasts were made easy by making my own egg Mcmuffins, pancakes, waffles, instant oatmeal in baggies, French toast. My kids could have a good hot breakfast even when I wasn’t there.
    When kids were very little and pickey I cut sandwiches in quarters. They would get 4 different breads and fillings. They tended to eat more and throw away less.

  23. I am a little confused by the “real food” I see whole wheat waffles.. but aren’t grains and Wheat in particular on of the worst GMO offenders. Often referred to as Frankenwheat. I am refusing to let my kids buy lunch because I have no control over the ingredients but I am really really struggling to find fun lunch solutions that will appeal and appease both them an me.

  24. I realize this post is a few months old, but I’m just looking at it to get ideas for this school year that started for us yesterday.

    My question is if your girls get a different variety lunch each day? Especially the fruits, my kids seem to get the same fruits/veggies every day for a week until we run out… if I buy too many options, they seem to ruin before we can eat them all.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Jennifer. The kids get a pretty good variety throughout the week but we are also using fruits and veggies at breakfast, lunch, for after school smoothies and at dinner. It is not usually a big challenge to change it up a bit depending on the meal. This week my fruits are watermelon, grapes, peaches, apples, pineapple, and oranges. My fresh veggies are carrots, red peppers, cucumber, tomato, broccoli, spinach, and asparagus. You do have to be aware of what you bought and have a strategy for using it to keep it from going to waste. :) ~Amy

  25. I cannot thank you enough for this round-up. I was looking at versions 1,2,3 yesterday but this one really suits our tastebuds. My kids have a nut allergy and I LOVE the link you provided for nut-free snacks. Not only are your recipes and lunch ideas amazing but I love how you also give us tips and hints on how to package and serve them. I come back to your blog over and over again for inspiration and I truly appreciate all the hard work you put into it to make our kids (and us) healthier!

  26. Love these lunch ideas and I could easily adapt many of them for my allergic kiddo (she’s allergic to dairy, eggs, tree nuts, mustard and sesame).

    I don’t personally feel comfortable with plastic lunchboxes, especially with plastics being heated in the microwave (not sure BPA-free means much when I don’t know if the replacements for BPA are proven… http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/04/beyond-bpa-could-bpa-free-products-be-just-as-unsafe/237246/ and http://myplasticfreelife.com/2011/04/bpa-free-does-not-mean-safe-most-plastics-leach-hormone-disrupting-chemicals/) but I love the Lunchbots and Planetbox, we have both and use them over and over and over again.

  27. Just in time as I begin to think about lunches for our homeschool days. Easy is a must but healthy is too. My summer of cooking lunch is coming to a close. This will help.

  28. Love your blog! I think these will make great lunches for me at school too! Teachers should eat healthy too! Thanks for posting.

  29. Try this recipe! Great for muffins too!

    Banana&Apple cake

    ingredients:

    – 1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil

    – 3 eggs

    – 1 ½ cups of wheat flour

    – 1 ½ cups of rolled oats fine

    – 1/2 cup brown sugar (or maple syrup, or agave syrup)

    – 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon ( and a nutmeg pinch)

    – 1 teaspoon baking soda

    – 1 tablespoon baking powder

    – 3 apples diced

    – 3 sliced ​​bananas

    – 1 cup chopped walnuts or 1 cup raisins

    – Cinnamon for sprinkling.

    Preparation:

    Mix all ingredients in a mixer or by hand, leaving the fruit and nuts last.
    Place in a form of approximately 27 cm in diameter, or rectangular, greased and floured baking and light in a medium oven for about 40 minutes. If you are unsure of the right spot, do that trick straws: pierce the toothpick in the cake and it should come out clean.

  30. You obviously have young kids…my teens would need 7 of your lunches to get them through! Really. You’ll see. They are so active…I get so tired of making sandwiches, sandwiches, sandwiches. Still, your lunches are cute; I remember those days!

  31. I love your site and am a frequent visitor! I love also looking at your lunch ideas. I’m married, w/ no kids (yet), but like to glean ideas for my hubby and I for lunch. One cool thing that the girls in our office started is having a salad bar each week. One person submits a salad idea and everyone brings 1 or 2 of the ingredients. The girls are not switched over to organic yet but I try to gently promote it. Anyways, I know this is not a lunch idea for kiddies but just wanted to throw the idea out =)

    1. leya, please keep in mind that organic does NOT mean non-gmo .. that’s the one you need to keep an eye out for, if you have a Meijer near you, there “Naturals” brand is non-gmo. and so far have the biggest selection that ive noticed as far as food stores go. organic just means they don’t use toxins to repel bugs. where GNO’s are genetically modified, so when a bug eats it, their little stomachs explode. makes ya wonder what it does to a human hua..

  32. Hi, I asked this question on here a while back but didn’t see a response. I hope I didn’t miss it somewhere:

    I saw that you used Squooshi reusable food pouches but they were not mentioned on your “fav school lunch tools”. Do you like these pouches or would you not recommend them? Thanks!

    1. Sorry it sometimes takes a couple weeks to respond to all the comments. I wrote the post about my favorite lunch tools last year and have discovered new products since then…yes I do like and recommend Squooshi. My daughters love their little pouches and they worked great in their lunch box! :)

  33. I have a fun lunch/snack idea that my whole family loves which was inspired by my neighbor from Japan: sticky rice balls. We use medium grain white rice (it’s stickier than long grain) and have not expirimented with brown rice yet. Although I imagine its possible since you’ve mentioned brown rice sushi. All you do is cook the rice according to package directions. When it’s cool enough to handle I add mix ins such as salmon and green onions or scrambled eggs. Another friend adds peas, carrots, and seasame seeds. They are also good plain. You can google for tons of ideas.
    Next, using wet hands, roll into a ball just like a meatball. Sprinkle with salt,then wrap in seaweed if desired.
    I keep a plate in my fridge for snacking and send them in my kids lunches with soy sauce for dipping. They are delicious and filling and can be eaten cold.

  34. I love you blog! Especially the lunch ideas. I have 2 boys who are not big sandwich guys and your little “bento box” style lunches are great. I was wondering if you could do a post with some that are specifically nut and peanut free. Both my boys have multiple food allergies so I am always looking for fun ideas besides ham roll ups and crackers :)

      1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

        Hi Monique. To avoid sulfites in dried fruit, you can choose organic brands that don’t use preservatives, including sulfur dioxide, in their produce. You can freeze them to give them longer “shelf life”. ~Amy

  35. Thank you for the introduction to Ak-Mak crackers! Combined with the Unique Whole Wheat pretzels and self-popped popcorn, my family has enough crunchy (yet healthy!) snacks when they don’t feel like fruits and veggies. My husband even adds the crackers to the grocery list!

  36. “Have you ever heard of a anyone having a protein deficiency?”

    What? Really?

    Protein deficiency is a global epidemic affecting billions of people worldwide, and it affects millions in North America alone.

    There are numerous symptoms and can be fixed by supplementing protein.

    Sorry, but this is a bit of a disappointing article.

  37. I saw that you used Squooshi reusable food pouches but they were not mentioned on your “fav school lunch tools”. Do you like these pouches or would you not recommend them? Thanks!

    1. I wrote the post about my favorite lunch tools last year and have discovered new products since then…yes I do like and recommend Squooshi. My daughters love their little pouches and they worked great in their lunch box! :)

  38. I wish you were my mom. I would love all of those lunches! My kids, on the other hand, would eat about 1% of these foods. I have switched to real food for myself, following your rules, as of 10 days ago. I have found they are eating more real foods because I am, but so far, they aren’t giving up their processed stuff. Small steps, I suppose. Maybe one of these days I will have the backbone to buckle down and say, “I don’t care if you eat apples for all three meals – you will not eat that processed food anymore.” I would definitely worry about them getting balanced nutrition, but at the same time – some of what they eat now could hardly be called nutritious.

  39. Some fantastic ideas, thank you!
    I am loving those smoothie pop cases, I’ve never seem those before. I am curious to know how those smoothie pops are by the time they get eaten? Do they melt and become a drink? Is that a messy situation in that sort of packaging ??
    Thanks :)

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Sal. They are no longer solid by the time lunch arrives. They are, depending on how they were prepared, either a little icy or more like a yogurt squeeze tube. You can see by looking at the photos that Lisa has a particular way of packing them that keeps the mess to a minimum. Lisa also uses ice packs to keep lunches cold. ~Amy

  40. I love these ideas and have tried a few of my own (love those Zip loc dividers!). Do you have any ideas for keeping the apple slices from turning brown? I’ve tried lemon juice and even some press and seal over that section with no luck.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Leslie. I soak apple slices in a mixture of lemon juice and carbonated water for a few minutes before I put them in a lunch container. It has done the trick for us. ~Amy

  41. I like your blog; I even signed up for momables because lunch is such a problem for me and I know our fast food habit is really unhealthy. Last year I bought some things from a local health food store/coop and I was inspired by your blog to revisit it. I didn’t really take a list with me and ended up with some random things–organic snack crackers, organic lemon juice, organic apple butter, and a lb of pasture-fed beef. I can’t shop there for everything because 1) there’s a lot it doesn’t carry and 2) the price. I’m working out a system though–I think I’ll go to the farmer’s market Wednesday mornings before this shop opens and get the local produce with a set budget, then go to the health food store and get our meat, maybe raw milk, and one or two other things, then go to Fred Meyer’s or Walmart or wherever for everything else we need. Then next year maybe we’ll get back into growing a garden and I’ll get canning supplies–and someday I’ll feel like I got this motherhood thing straightened out, but probably not. :O)

  42. Thank you for the pictures. We are just getting ready to start school. I showed my son the pictures to see different options for his lunch (before he just said PBJ and carrots). Great resource:)

  43. Those that choose plastic containers for their children should be careful how they wash them. Do not use them in the dishwasher or they become toxic. Also, after time when the plastic starts to become scratched it also releases toxic chemicals. I love the LunchBots stainless steel for safety, long lasting product and because they are indestructible for my 3 sons.

  44. Thanks for the inspiration! My daughter will begin taking lunch next school year and now I feel prepared for it. Already have the Ziploc containers, Thermos and Lands End lunch bag. I also always pack our lunches and snacks for road trips and day trips. Please keep posting the lunches, it really helps!

  45. We have just started eating real organic food in the past month. My family is so pleased. They say everything tastes better! I love the idea of the little plastic food trays. We have been using baggies, but that can be messy! Thanks for your wonderful ideas!

  46. I pack three of these Ziploc containers per day for my three-year-old son (breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack) who attends all-day preschool a few days per week, and though I am getting away from using plastic I just love the way these containers seal everything up separately.

    I am jazzed to see little side salads, as my guy recently started requesting his own dinner salads but sometimes doesn’t quite finish them. Good reminder for me to pop those into a container for lunch or snack!

    As always, thanks for sharing and inspiring, Lisa!

  47. I love these ideas, but am wondering how old the kid is you serve these to? I have a 5 and 7 year old and this is like 1/4 of what they eat and they are skinny skinny kids! Also what trays are these? I would love a one with bigger compartments. Thanks for all your hard work!!!!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Kathryn. This was Jason’s response to a similar question above: “Our girls are 6 and 8. They get breakfast at 7:00, a snack (homemade oatmeal in a thermos) between 10:00 and 11:00, the lunches you see here around noon, and then an after school snack (at home) around 2:30. Believe me they have VERY healthy appetites, but we also teach them to stop eating when they are full. Most days they eat all of their lunches, but occasionally some is left because they get full (the oatmeal snack is filling) or run out of time. They don’t get much time to eat.” And you can find the containers as well as others here: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/08/24/my-favorite-school-lunch-supplies/. Best of luck. ~Amy

    1. I have only ever found them at Target. My grocery store and Walmart don’t carry them – but good ol’ Target had a ton in stock :) And they really are leak proof! My girls use them for lunch and they are a great success!

  48. Thank u!!! Just what I needed for swim lessons every afternoon at 5…and we can’t eat before so I need something easy ad healthy for after!! Thank u again!!

  49. Thank you so much for healthy lunch ideas! My little one starts kindergarten this fall and I can’t wait to try some of these out!

  50. This is very helpful! Just a quick question. Did the Planet Lunchbox not work very well? I noticed it in one of the pictures, but not the rest. I was curious if you liked to use it.

  51. Thank you for posting this! I’m just wondering, how do you find time to make everything from scratch? Do you always make extras to freeze? I’m realizing that i’m in the kitchen non-stop if I make everything from scratch. What tricks/tips have you found help eliminate spending so much time in the kitchen?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Lauren. Lisa does do most everything from scratch. She’ll add in things like whole wheat pretzels and a few other similar items from time to time. Lisa does make big batches of things such as soups and many of her other recipes and freezes them for an easy daily lunch packing experience. She also includes a lot of readily available fresh seasonal fruits and veggies. Have you taken a look at the other school lunch round-ups: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/04/19/school-lunch-roundup/, https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/09/04/school-lunch-roundup-ii/, https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/02/04/school-lunch-roundup-iii/? Hope this helps. ~Amy

  52. just curious, how old are your kids? The lunches look like they will feed really small children. I need to send about 3 times that much for my super skinny tween who plays sports all day and doesn’t get home until 7PM daily.

    1. Hi Susan – Our girls are 6 and 8. They get breakfast at 7:00, a snack (homemade oatmeal in a thermos) between 10:00 and 11:00, the lunches you see here around noon, and then an after school snack (at home) around 2:30. Believe me they have VERY healthy appetites, but we also teach them to stop eating when they are full. Most days they eat all of their lunches, but occasionally some is left because they get full (the oatmeal snack is filling) or run out of time. They don’t get much time to eat.

  53. I second Julia’s question and request for a printable list of the options that you pack for lunch! love your blog, and refer people to it QUITE often!! Thank you for all of the hard work and effort you put into maintaining it and keeping it fresh!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Natalie. I wouldn’t call Lisa anti-mayo. It is just hard to find condiments that aren’t highly processed. She has made homemade mayo but quite honestly prefers the fluffy store-bought kind. :) ~Amy

  54. I admire your creativity! And I always love the school lunch roundup posts. Have you ever (or would you be willing) to create do a blog post that is a master list of all the different things that you pack in school lunches? For us not so creative moms, it would help me to have a list of ideas that can hang on the side of my fridge or take to the grocery.

  55. Thanks for the latest round of pictures, hopefully they inspire my 6 year old to try some new things. She recently liked blueberries again (in a bowl with coconut on top a la a Curious George episode) after a 2 year absence, yeah!

    My daughter’s kindergarten requires lunch plus a morning AND an afternoon snack. I find the afternoon snack most challenging since it has to be nut free and my daughter prefers most fruits and veggies cold. I have been doing fruit, veggies or a cheese stick for the morning snack with an small ice pack. Sadly, the afternoon snack has mostly been a rotation of Triscuits, spelt pretzels, applesauce/fruit cups and popcorn. Unfortunately, most things that I bake are made with flour, grains or oats that were produced in a facility that also uses nuts. When I gave her apple slices for the afternoon with an ice pack for afternoon snack, she complained they weren’t cold enough. It’s hard to come up with new afternoon ideas that fit those parameters.

  56. Every day, I enjoy looking at Facebook and seeing what you packed for your kids that day. I homeschool and thus do not need to pack lunches, but lunch time around here can get really boring. Your ideas give me lots of good ones for the days I don’t cook for lunch. (which is 95 percent of the time, LOL) thank you!

  57. So many great ideas. Our kids aren’t allowed to take nuts to school. I thought all schools were nut-free these days. I have one very picky eater and I’m always looking for ways to get away from processed foods, but always seem to fall back on them. My kids are sick of jam sandwiches!

  58. Dahira Binford

    Oh and I also didn’t mention that one of my boys is very allergic to nuts so that is a definite bind as they are so full of good satisfying ingredients. He also doesn’t eat eggs often.

    1. My husband is nut allergic and has a big appetite too. We pack our lunches, as well as our 4 year old’s for Pre-K. My husband really prefers leftovers from last night’s dinners for lunch. One, he gets to enjoy our delicious dinners one more time, and two, he finds them more satisfying than a sandwich and sides lunches. Snacks for afternoon are also necessary, as nothing lasts for long enough. He’s very fit. I have to eat a lighter lunch to maintain a healthy weight, tho.

  59. Dahira Binford

    What great ideas. Thanks so much. I wonder however how to feed big growing teenage boys who desire quantity as much as quality. That’s why chips, etc. and lunchmeat sandwiches are so easy, fast and “bulky”. I would like to buy the healthier lunchmeat all the time but honestly can’t afford to. I do give them pasta or rice and bean leftovers but would love some other ideas. Thanks!

    1. You could grill or roast some chicken breast, turkey breast or a beef roast, let cool and slice as sandwich meat and store in fridge. This could be flavored with different herbs, spices or bbq sauce (endless possibilities). You would definitely know your ingredients that way. Hope that might work for you :-)

    2. A thought for those big teenage boys…I teach high school and my hungry kids with home packed meals often pack double. That may not be practical to send two lunch containers, but a lot of my boys eat their first lunch between first and second period…around 10…and devour the second at lunch, closer to 1.

  60. I’ve been trying to figure out better/healthier yet still easy ball park snacks and how to pack them. Seeing this all together made me realize that I need to just use divided containers and pack us each one or two (depending on how long we’ll be there- sometimes 7-8 hours!).

    Thanks for always helping us in our quests to eat healthier!

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