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 (2018 update: There are so many of these updates now that I’ve put them together on a School Lunch Roundup Series page).

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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462 thoughts on “School Lunch Roundup!”

  1. You must be Danish, having whole-wheat ebleskiver in your lunches, kudos, it all looks good. I did some of these things as well when my children were young too, that’s awesome that you can share.

  2. Hey, Miss Lisa– Just found your blog last night and am LOVING all of the fantastic ideas and helpful information you provide here. It seems that meal planning has become the bane of my existence, but you’ve given me a ray of hope. My youngest daughter is highly allergic to chicken, turkey, eggs, and nuts, so as a family, our consumption of NON-chicken and NON-eggy foods is essential. I mean, why should I make a completely separate meal for Lila than what the rest of us are eating? It’s twice the work. Couple that and the allergies with the fact that my two toddlers are frightfully picky eaters and you can start to understand why trying to make enjoyable, well-rounded and nutritious meals for our family of 5 has begun to weigh me down.

    Your kids’ lunch round-up was nothing short of FANTASTIC! I was wondering what you use (in place of/in addition to) the smoothie pops to keep refrigeratables cold. I’m weirded out by cold food warming to room temperature, but I don’t want to weigh the kids down with the frozen blocks-o-blue-gel we call “Freezy Things.”

    Thanks so much for the inspiration! Can’t wait to read and learn more from you!
    ~Jennifer

    1. So glad you are enjoying the blog! I can’t imagine working around so many allergies…I don’t know how moms do it! Anyway, I put 3 – 4 ice packs in my daughters’ lunchboxes, but I use smaller and lighter weight ones kind of like this (that you can cut to any size you’d like): http://tinyurl.com/75etswe I hope that helps.

    2. You can also buy organic fruit juice!! The stuff that’s 100% juice and not full of sugar. Dilute it with water so it’s not so strong. The color will make it look like Capri sun bit without all the processed nastiness!! Also try freezing the juice in ice trays. I used to love having “homemade” Popsicles or colored water when the ice melted!!! Hope this helps :)

  3. Ohhh…Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for :)

  4. Thank you so much for all these creative ideas. I work full time outside the home and am often in a quandry about what to leave my toddler for lunch. I’m going to have to give some of these a try.
    I love being in my kitchen too, and pride myself on making just about everything from scratch including bread. If you haven’t checked it out yet you should look for a copy of Healthy Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a day. I use their technique for 100% whole wheat bread (pitas and naan from the same dough). As a working mom it has revolutionized my life in the kitchen in the best of ways. Happy July 4th!

  5. Thank you so much for this website! As a dietitian and as a mom of a 2 year old, you have really inspired me and made me rethink the recommendations that I give my patients. You are right in saying that “fat free” is not always the best option. I am all about prevention rather than treating diseases after they occur. If our society ate like this, we would have much lower rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc.

    I also appreciate you taking into consideration the need to stick to a budget. I have always wanted to be an awesome couponer that saves 100s of dollars a month but have found most of the couponing websites encourage stocking up on packaged/canned products. I love your approach. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  6. Martha McNeely

    Genius! I have been eating only real food for 25 plus years now but still have a hard time planning lunches to take with me! These are PERFECT!

  7. I work as a substitute teacher. I see so many kids throw healthy food like this in the trash. It’s sad and I sometimes wonder if the parents have any idea the kids toss the sandwich and eat the dessert.

  8. Do you have some good receipes for the smoothie pops. I have ordered them, but wan some ideas of what to put inside? I would lobe to make him some homemade smoothies or anything else. Email them if possible. Hoodsta3@gmail.com

  9. This lunch food is so inspiring to me! It all looks delicious and wow, do you deliver? Yummo ideas, thank you!

  10. OK, I’m in shock…I love these examples of lunch ideas that I have found lately on blogs/Pintrest of what to pack in my kids’ lunches because I’m in a major rut and love to steal ideas from other inventive, creative moms who are generous enough to share ideas. Are you really serious that people leave commments busting your chops about what you feed your kids or how much you feed them or tell you that you aren’t giving them enough protein??? I am assuming that is why there were all the disclaimers at the beginning of your entry! UNBELIEVABLE!! You are a kind woman, I wouldn’t have even justified these statements with a response. You are awesome in my opinion, and if people can’t post something nice, they should just move along! Keep on doing what you are doing, and thank you for sharing your wisdom with those of us who appreciate it!!

  11. Thanks so much for posting this!!!! I would love to be able to share your posting on our blog (with proper citation) via Pinterest! So glad I found this! :)

  12. I just found your site via pinterest and I am astounded that people would think this was NOT enough food for your children! I agree with the portion sizes here completely. I have the popsicle molds that you use for the smoothies, but to be honest, I never thought to use them the way you do…I always made popsicles in them! Great source of inspiration. TY!!

  13. This is fantastic and very inspiring. Love the shaped sandwiches. My boys love mini hamburgers (with lots of hidden grated vegies and oat bran included) served in wholewheat dinner rolls. They scoff them cold!

  14. My daughter goes to an all day kindergarten an I pack a lunch and an afternoon snack for her everyday. We do not use any store bought snacks or juices and she complains from time to time about that. She shares with me what other children bring to school to eat and it is scary to say the least! She comes home and says that so and so had this ( now she even know what it is cheetos,goldfish, fruit roll ups, etc) and I try to make it as good as a can. Last week she wanted me to buy a bag of goldfish crackers, empty them out, make my own, and put them in the bag. Since we never buy packaged snacks, she thinks they are the greatest. Do you ever run in to that dilema or does your oldest not complain about wanting something that other children have?

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I am actually going through something similar with my 7-year-old so I recently bought organic pop tarts (still totally junk food and not something I’ve ever bought before), and I let her take it as her snack 1 time. I try not to be too terribly restrictive at times like that so they don’t end up “binging” at a friend’s house later, but I still stick to my guns as far as what I’d like them to eat. It’s hard to ignore the social impact of junk food! (I also showed her in teaspoons of sugar how much is actually in the pop start so she could understand it’s more like a dessert than a snack). I hope that helps!

      1. I’m not much of a blogger, but I keep getting pointed to your blog from Pinterest or Facebook. LOVE IT!! I teach, so I’m enjoying a little extra time this summer. As for Poptarts… have you tried making your own? Maybe you have – sorry I haven’t thoroughly explored your blog yet. My daughter (3 at the time) was begging for one to take to daycare since so many other kids were bringing them in. I told her no because it was a dessert, not a breakfast… Then one of the few blogs I do visit frequently put up a recipe for homemade PBJ poptarts! Yay!! Now my girl can take her own homemade poptart for morning snack… though I have to leave off the pb for “school”. Maybe next time I’ll try to sub it with sunbutter.

  15. Thank you for putting all of the lunch ideas in one spot. We will be testing these out this summer so I will know who will eat what. I will be making three lunches a day next year for my 7 and 4 year old and one for myself as I will also be in school. Thank you again!!

  16. I love your ideas!!! I am in the process of switching our family to a more whole foods diet. The processed foods just turn me off so much now! And the more I learn, the more I’m excited to switch. I just have one problem… my family is full of incredibly picky eaters!!! I am transitioning them over the summer so that lunches for school look much better next year than this year! :-) Thanks for the ideas!

  17. So, these lunches are fantastic. I try to send similar lunches, but I run out of ideas. You have some fantastic new things I am going to try. We, too, have always used the divided ziploc containers, and they fit nicely into our PBK rectangular lunchbox with a small, skinny bottled water and a small “ice thing”. However, I was at Target this morning, and I found these new lunchbox containers called “Lunch Blox”, and they all stack together. I bought this (http://www.amazon.com/Rubbermaid-1806231-Lunch-Blox-Sandwich/dp/B0078K416Y/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1337023449&sr=8-3) sandwich pack that has several containers and an “ice thingy” that also stacks with it. This is on sale at Target right now for $9.99 which seemed like a super deal for all you get with it. They also had a rectangular one that was divided, and I am kicking myself that I will have to go back and get that one. Anyway, I thought you may want to check them out. Thanks for all your wonderful ideas and recipes. I refer to your site a lot.

  18. Asking out of curiosity more than anything else…does your kids ever want/have a hot lunch? My kids tend to want to take leftovers in a thermos vs. a cold lunch.

    1. Okay, after thinking about this a few minutes more, I remembered you are in the South! Although a Floridian, I now live in Maine (HUSBAND!) so the hot lunch vs. cold lunch makes more sense to me now! :-)

      1. 100 Days of Real Food

        I actually sent a hot lunch today (leftovers) and yesterday (oatmeal) so I guess it all depends on what food we have or what the kids ask for…my first grader has been asking for the smoothie pops A LOT lately. I suppose it was also 90 degrees here today :)

  19. I cannot find cute kebab sticks like what you pictured here with pinwheels or anything else fun! I tried Amazon and Oriental Trading – help!

  20. Thank you so much for all of your wonderful ideas and info! I discovered your site about two weeks ago and I cannot stop reading all of your past posts! I’m addicted! We ate mostly healthy before, but now I am taking it to the next level by getting rid of most if not all of the processed food & food dyes or at least not buying it again. I am so excited to be making my meals,, bread, etc from scratch! Thank you so much! I couldn’t do it without your site!

  21. I cannot locate the cinnamon raisen bagel recipe. Only one for bread. Is there a way to adapt the bread recipe for bagels? Thanks for this website…wonderful!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I actually did adapt the cinnamon raisin bread recipe to make bagels. I let the bread machine do the kneading and then I formed them into 9 bagels, let them rise, boiled them and then baked them. They are not perfect, but my kids like them. The recipe needs more work/practice before I can post it!

  22. These are great ideas for lunches! My boys aren’t old enough to stay at school for lunch yet. I just need to figure something else to use instead of toothpicks. I could totally see my 4 yr old using a toothpick as a light saber and poking someone with it;)

  23. Thank you for all of these wonderful ideas. I have been experimenting with a few of your recipes. Not only are they easy and affordable to make, they are delicious! My 7 year old has loved everything I have made so far. I try so hard to eat healthy and unprocessed food and your website is such a wonderful wealth of information.

  24. I really like your lunch box ideas. I also have a 7 and 5 year old. I’m curious though how they keep their food cold until they eat it. the apple sandwich would turn brown and my 7 year old I’m sure would turn his nose up at it. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I put their lunches in an insulated lunch bag with several frozen ice packs. Also a little lemon (or other citrus) will help prevent the apples from turning brown…although I’ve found they love the apple sandwiches so much they’ll eat it no matter what (the same is not true for apple slices though…they won’t eat those if they are brown).

      1. Hello there! Thanks for the inspiration. What kind of insulated bag do you use? I want to make sure I pick one that will comfortably accommodate the ziplock container and ice packs. Thanks again.

      2. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

        Hi Amber. I have the lunch boxes from Lands End (the larger ones) and they fit them just fine, with a drink too. Jill

  25. Do the apples brown you by lunchtime if you cut them up like you have them in the pictures? When I cut an organic apple here at home for my toddler to eat, it browns very quickly on my counter when he is snacking.

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      If you squirt lemon juice (or other citrus) onto the cut apples it helps prevent browning.

  26. This couldn’t be more perfect timing, Lisa. Thanks for sharing your lunch ideas yet again.

    I am going to stop using the provided food and start sending my own to daycare with my toddler on Monday (our whole, local, mostly organic food diet is so different from what’s provided at daycare that I’ve finally had enough and am going to make everything myself). My mind is spinning with how to get prepared for this endeavor! I have to pack breakfast, lunch, and a snack daily. Your ideas are going to come in very handy. Thank you!

    1. Be sure to check with the daycare. As a former DC worker this is fronted upon and very difficult unless all children get home lunches. All the other children want what the other child is having.

      1. Yes, that was of course the first thing we did, check with the daycare. We already knew of one family who sends all organic food so knew it was possible, but I was concerned with what requirements the daycare had for us to bring food ourselves (just need a written letter), where and how the food will be stored (in the fridge and it must be labeled with name and date), and whether there were allergens to avoid (nope).

        My biggest concern that still remains is the fact that my son might want what others are having (or others will want what he’s having) and that it will be difficult on the teachers. However, that is not enough of a deterrent to keep me from following through with what I know in my heart/gut/soul is the right thing to do.

  27. Love this post! What a great guide with tons of ideas. The smoothie pops were a big hit at our house as well!

  28. This. Is. Amazing. A fan suggested I check out your site and it’s such an inspiration. My oldest goes off to full-day school next year and I’ve already been thinking about how to get her out of the food line and excited about lunches like she eats here. PLEASE keep this all coming. I call “real food” grown grub food and it makes me happy. And I’m all about the happy. Look for twinkles, follow the winks, find your happy.

  29. I seem to remember reading that you were gifted a food dehydrator for Christmas last year, but I have not heard anything since! What’s the skinny? Do tell about your experience with it so far. I just found an old one at a garage sale last weekend. Its looks very old, but hopefully in working condition. I am excited and scared to try it!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Honestly I’ve just been too busy – blogging!! :) – to use it as much as I would like to. I have made fruit leathers and beef jerky and they were both hits…thanks for the reminder to get it out again!

  30. What do you use to core and cut your apples like that for the apple sandwich? Also, what is the brand of your jelly, where do you buy it? Thanks!!!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I just sliced them with a knife, but then I used a small round cookie cutter to get out the middle/core (after it was sliced). I have this set of round cookie cutters that goes from big to small: http://tinyurl.com/d4lqoyy

      Also, we use Crofters Organic “jelly” but it’s more like an all fruit spread.

  31. When you send the hard boiled eggs do you remove the shell? do you daughters ever complain about all their food smelling like eggs?

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I do remove the shell (mainly b/c they don’t have much time to eat lunch). And they haven’t said anything about the smell to me…those compartments are air tight so I doubt it affects the other food in there.

  32. What a great post! Thanks so much for taking the time to compile this info and photos. And I must say… I can’t believe people would question whether or not these lunches provide enough food for a 1st grader! Seriously?? These are terrific lunches! I think they would be plenty for me too, and I’m a lot older than 7. ;-)

  33. Hello,
    I was wondering what you thought about the Applegate Farms ham? I tried the turkey about a week ago, and my kids wouldn’t eat it. It had some clear jelly-like goo in different parts of it. Do you know what that is? Does the ham have that?

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I’ve never tried the turkey…I would recommend calling Applegate directly and asking them what that was about. I don’t recall seeing it in the ham, which is what we buy on the rare occasion we buy sandwich meat.

  34. Thank you so much for all the lunch ideas! School lunches seem to just stress me out!!! And, thank you for taking the time to do this blog! It has helped me tremendously! You are a great wife and mother to put so much care into your family’s meals!

  35. I think I may start making some of these to take for my lunch! It’s hard to find new things to take to work for lunch and I get bored eating the same things. These lunches have variety and look yummy.

  36. Great suggestions! You are an inspiration. I think I do pretty well health wise with lunch for my 7, 4 and 2 year old but you make it look appetizing. I had a quick question. My 4 and 2 year old can’t tolerate dairy. We are a real food family but miss out on many recipes because of the dairy content. What do you suggest? My husband and older child love dairy so I don’t know what to do and imitation cheeses and milks are just that, imitation. Thanks!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Try subbing unsweetened coconut or almond milk for milk…I am not sure about cheese though. Sorry I am definitely not a food allergy expert!

      1. For something close texture wise to cheese, try rice cheese. It melts great too! Everyone in my family, including my parents, will eat it.

  37. Thank you ,these lunches are great and they look so delicious.
    My grandkids would love them.

    Cheers skeeta

  38. I would love it if you could e-mail me the link or name of where you found the smoothie freezer pop containers… those are PERFECT!!! I make meals very similar to yours for my 3 daughters ages 4, 6, and 8….. we are a mostly vegan/ and whole food eatting family so I love your ideas :) Thank you
    Mandy

  39. Thank you so much for such great ideas. My daughter is not a picky eater but I needed some new, fresh ideas.

  40. Honestly, the hardest part (ironically) about eating whole foods is NOT counting the protein and calories, etc. We’ve always been taught the food chart, how much protein we need, see all the media – we’re not getting enough Vitamin D or Calcium, etc. It’s kind of a twist for your brain! It is nice not to have to worry about things like that though, because we know that we are feeding our families what we were intended to eat!

  41. These lunches look terrific! Will you come and pack my lunch? I’ve beentrying to get on the real food band wagon but just can’t seem to climb up there. :-(

  42. My 7 year old son is a very picky eater. (I think it’s related to his Sensory Processing Disorder). But his lunches look similar to these in portion size and protein amounts. He eats lunch early, so he’s usually ready for a snack when he gets home. However, he says he gets plenty to eat at lunch time. There are some of these ideas I’m going to try, tough. I think he would like the fruit kabobs and apple sandwiches especially.

  43. When lunches start getting boring, my first grader asks if we can look at the photos of the lunches you have on Facebook. Now we will be able to reference this post! She will be so excited :-). Thanks!! Also, we have been using those containers for the past 2 months and they are absolutely perfect for her lunch.

  44. How awesome! Your children will always remember these lunches, I am certain. They will appreciate the hard work and love that went into these!

    Thanks for the wonderful variety of ideas you gave! I homeschool, so wouldn’t need to pack lunch but what an inspiration for their lnches anyway. :-)

  45. thank you thank you thank you for this post!!! My daughter started kindergarten this year and I have been so LOST in regard to school lunches. My food philosophy is very close to yours as you explained it in this post, so I know I will be able to use your menus. Thank you so much! I am so excited to read each one and get some new ideas! Genevieve had homemade sushi in her lunch yesterday, and sesame noodles and strawberry sauce in her lunch today. My fallback is homemade muffin, cheese stick, and cut up apple.

  46. I saw a question about apples turning brown and thought I’d share my experience. I read an experiment someone did dipping cut apples in apple juice, lemon juice and something else. If my memory is correct the apple juice worked best. I tried that for a while, but realized if I put the apples in a container with a good seal (airtight) right away they didn’t brown very much if at all. So I no longer dunk – saves a little bit of time.

  47. Thanks for the pictures and ideas. It always helps as I tend to fall into ruts. Other ideas that my girls like are: chili, organic mac & cheese, tuna salad. I discovered my picky eater likes berries so I’ve been sending a lot more of those lately. We occasionally have homemade granola bars.

  48. Thank you for the ideas! Will loves his spinach and carrots, but they do get old. I have to do a better job of getting his lunch packed at night; otherwise, he’s too happy to be a “buyer”. Guess I need to check out facebook more…Sent a smoothie last week and he loved it! I need to get more freezie pop molds.

  49. I just started reading your blog and I LOVE IT! I try to feed my kids good food and packing lunches is the hardest. Plus they are offered so much junk at school it makes me cringe. So thank you for doing this! Also, I think you pack more than enough food for your kids!! I can’t believe anyone would say otherwise.

  50. Thanks so much for all your hard work. Your information is so helpful and is making a difference for so many people. I am working up the courage to do the 10 Day Pledge. I’ve made changes with my eating habits but there are still a couple things I’m not ready to give up yet!!

  51. These are so awesome. Thanks so much for the new inspiration! I am already getting burned out and we still have a month and a half left of our first year of preschool! haha and YES on the portion sizes. Sometimes I feel like it’s “not enough” so I add something else, or extras of what’s already in there and it always comes back home!

  52. Thanks for addressing the issue of protein! That is one of my biggest irks–having people ask if we have enough protein in our diets. Yes, we eat real food–nuts, whole grains, eggs, and sometimes dairy—we are fine!

  53. I’m surprised anyone has questioned whether your kids are getting enough to eat. That looks like plenty of food for a child’s lunch! I’m not nearly so creative with our lunches and probably don’t give my kids enough variety so I REALLY appreciate all these great ideas!

  54. We have these exact same containers and just because it’s easier, we all eat the same lunches. So I pack mine (even though I am here at home), hubby’s, and the boys’ all at night before I go to bed. There is plenty of food in what you are packing for your kids….if it’s enough to fill a grownup, it’s enough for a kid. And REAL food is sooooo much more filling…you really don’t need as much as conventional food. We use those little one cup Glad containers for everyone’s afternoon snack. Even hubby is satisfied with these amounts of food….and boy did he used to be able to pack it away. You can’t really “pig out” too much on REAL food…your body simply won’t let you.

  55. This is awesome! I’m always looking for new ideas for my preschoolers’ lunches. Thank you so much for posting this here for those of us not on facebook. Speaking of that, is there a way to get your weekly meal plans if we’re not on facebook? Thanks again!

  56. Perfect timing! My oldest starts kindergarten next year. I love the pictures and can’t wait to show them to my daughter. I also love the lunch container. It provides the convenience of the bento style, without out the worry of individual containers being lost. I also think the portion size is perfect. I’d be amazed if my daughter could finish that much food in 15 minutes!

  57. Your kid’s lunches look delicious! I have a dozen or so of those containers. I like to freeze dinner leftovers in them so I have “TV Dinners” for those nights where we need a quick meal or for an easy lunch.

    We only have one child left in school (13) and I can’t seem to get him to take a lunch to school anymore. I know I will be using some of your ideas for the Summer though. He loves to have a “buffet” for lunch and I’m sure I can find a few good things that he would love to eat.

    I’ve been showing my kids how much better the food tastes and how much better they feel when they eat “real” food. When they crave something like chicken nuggets, we make them at home. There’s no sense spending the money and putting all those chemicals in our bodies when the real stuff tastes so much better.

    I was wondering if you used lemon or something on the apple slices. Mine seem to turn brown before I’m even finished peeling them. I know I wouldn’t want to eat them at lunch time.

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Good idea with the “TV Dinners!” And yes lemon works on the apples…I don’t always use it though.

  58. I wish you had been MY mom! These look so yummy and creative! Way better than the chocolate milk and peanut butter sandwiches I got growing up. haha Great job!

  59. LOVE these photos! I love seeing what other people pack their kids for lunch. I like the divided containers – I use Laptop Lunch Boxes for my son.

    I will have to try those freezie pops. I have different kinds of pop molds. Those look much easier to use.

    On the frozen peas and corn: my kid loves frozen peas just frozen, but by the time lunch comes around, they have defrosted and he eats them cold.

  60. Michelle Meehan

    I bought the Ziploc containers (less than $3 for a pack of 2 at Target)…then liked them so much I bought 2 more packs, just so we’ll always have them :-). I love coming up with new lunches for my kids, and I’ve even started taking pictures and putting them on my Instagram feed. Got 2 sets of the freezer pop molds, too, and I use them every day for my daughter’s lunch. Being newly inspired to pack creative lunches is better for all of us! Thanks for the inspirations!

  61. Thanks for sharing – I love looking for new (healthy) ideas for my son’s lunch box. I think your portions are spot on. And I love how you don’t just pack a boring sandwich everyday! ;)

  62. Lisa – Saw your comment about portion sizes. Our portion sizes are very similar and my kids are same age as your’s, same schedule (morning snack, etc).

    I love your site:-) I was raised primarily on “real food” (didn’t taste an Oreo til college) and it’s how I prefer to raise my kids. I love your ideas! Thank you!!

    1. I agree, I have 2 boys about the same age, both competitive swimmers (i.e., big eaters) and their lunches look similar. I don’t mind them having plenty of healthy snacks in the afternoon.

      Thank you Lisa for the inspiration, it is so easy for me to get in a rut!

  63. I don’t see a recipe for the smoothies with kale in them. Is it your regular PB&J smoothie? I would love to try it with kale. Thank you!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Yes, lately I’ve just been adding kale (or spinach) to any old smoothie…just a big handful.

  64. Thank you SOOOOO much for posting this!! It really inspires me to do even better with my daughter and hubby… and myself. :) I can’t wait to switch up some of our lunches. I need to get some bento boxes though :/ and those smoothie pops!

  65. Hi Lisa! Just curious if you’ve looked into any of the bevy of recent books (Kindle and hard cover) that have come out on how “French kids” eat. I am on my second book already — can’t put them down — and although they allow for a daily gouter (or snack) that often includes something sugary and chocolate seems to be its own food group (arguably better than goldfish crackers), their philosophies behind eating as a most pleasurable and social occasion have really inspired me. I’m envisioning summer breakfasts outside on the deck, have already started baking more with my son (from your site and Carrie’s) and would recommend the books by Druckerman and Le Billon even if only as some added inspiration. Your kids already seem like super healthy eaters, I just remember the one Frenchy post you did and thought this takes the idea even further. A votre sante!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I have not read those books, but like you mentioned I’ve always been intrigued by their food philosophy. Thanks for sharing!!

  66. Can’t wait to try your recipes, not only for my kids but I will be packing a lunch like these for myself. Thanks so much for all you do on your blog. I know how much work it is.

  67. I’m not a “real foods” person but do read your blog for motivation. I loved your lunch ideas. Where did you get the bento boxes? I’ve recently decided to stop buying canned/bottled drinks for my son’s lunch. I purchased PBA free bottles for water and other drinks. It’s definitely cheaper than buying individual gatorade bottles. How do you keep your bananas and apples from getting brown? I’ve been sending mainly grapes and oranges for lunch because they are easy to eat.

  68. Do you have a recipe for the wheat bagels? I’ve searched you site but I can’t seem to find it!

  69. Love these lunches, who said these are jsut for kids??? Im going to make MY lunches ike this. I also think these are completely adequate for your kids volume wise. My 11 & 13 year old wouild eat the same amounts of food, too so I think they are getting plenty of food and well balanced, too. Thanks again!!

  70. Thanks for the ideas :)

    My son is only 13 months so a lot of this has to wait, but I do pack him a lunch everyday to go to the sitter with. Hmmmmm, maybe I should do some posts on what to pack for a 13 month old? :)

    1. Allison, my son just turned a year and we’ll be sending food with him soon. I’d love to hear what kind a things you pack for your son.

  71. Thank you for this! I still have a little over a year before I have to worry about it but I’m definitely going to file this info away (I have it bookmarked) and the containers and ice pop makers are in my Amazon cart. I do need to look up some of your recipes (tortillas/muffins/etc). I did have one question – Kettle chips? Were they a treat or do they actually pass?!?!?

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Kettle chips were more of a treat because they are made with refined oil. We “break the rules” occasionally…which I think is good for your mental health! :)

  72. I use the same lunchbox containers. I absolutely LOVE them. I’ve also been experimenting with bento techniques to make all the real food mor exciting for my 11 year old. The link to the lunches I love to make is here:

    http://lifesabundantadventures.blogspot.com/search/label/Healthy%20School%20Lunches

    I have to be honest. Sometimes white rice makes it into the lunch and the occassional white dinner roll (leftover from easter dinner at grandma’s) but I feel good about the lunches I make. Especially compared to what my son tells me of the other lunches the kids bring which consist mainly of “cheez-its, fruit snacks, and soda” according to my 11 year old.

  73. Very awesome. I’ll be needing to pack my boy’s lunch starting next school year. Looking forward to using your ideas and coming up with some new ones too. Thanks so much!!

  74. These are great! Thank you for all the great recipes and ideas. You are inspiring us to eat REAL food. Thank you!

  75. Thanks for all the great lunch ideas! I have a 12 year old, an 8 year old, and a 1 1/2 year old, so the ideas really help out this frazzled mommy:) My kids have been so excited with the variety and creativity in their lunches lately, that they tell me how great it was as soon as they get home from school. After school snacks have also gotten an overhaul around here. The kids can’t wait to see what I have ready for them when they get home. That’s a really good feeling!

  76. I love your ideas! I just started a job where I’m going to be taking my lunch to work with me 3 days a week, and I’m going to use some of these ideas for myself! :) I know I’ve seen you mention that you can get burned out making these lunches every day, but it is so worth it (as I know you know). We, the readers, really appreciate all the work you put in! I’m sure your girls do too (or they will when they’re older, if they don’t yet!) :)

  77. Thank you so much for this post. My husband and I have been eating clean for just over a year now, but we have some very picky little eaters in this house and your lunch ideas and this blog altogether is a wonderful resource I have just stumbled upon but will now be a regular.
    Thanks again,Happy Thursday!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Yes, they eat the peas frozen at home, but they are usually thawed by lunch time when I send them to school.

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