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. Some of the items (like peas) look frozen. If your child takes them to school – does the school ‘heat it up’ for them?? Thanks!

  2. Love these lunch ideas. I am trying to reduce the amount of processed food my family eats, but was lost for ideas. I am so glad I came across your blog. I love that there are lots of things that can be made ahead and many that require little prep. This is so important with 2 young kids. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I really love your lunch ideas. They always look so beautiful in the Tupperware containers. Although, how in the world do they stay that way after being tossed around in their backpacks? Does the applesauce stay in the applesauce compartment, etc? I like the muffin holder idea, but doesn’t it mix with the other items?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Michelle. The items stay in their own compartments but they are not as picture perfect after being carried to school. But, in general, they stay put. ~Amy

  4. Question, I see many items that would only stay together if the container remained flat. Many lunch boxes are packed, but then stand on their sides (think rectangle shape). How does this work for you kids?

  5. Teresa Gilliam

    The healthy meals look great, but what amazed me and excited me was the variety. So many kids are picky eaters today only because they have not been exposed to all the great flavors of real food. Kudos to you for not bringing up picky or fearful eaters.

  6. Hello! Do your children have access to a microwave at school or do they eat this stuff cold? Asking cause I would like to know! Like to try some out on my very picky eating son!!
    Thank you!!
    Paula

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hello Paula. No, food cannot be heated at school. If we want something to stay warm, a thermal container is our go to. ~Amy

  7. Love your blog and love your lunch ideas! I just bought some supplies so I can start taking the bento approach. I know my 2 year old will love it. I’ve been making her ice cube tray lunches and she had lots of fun with it! Thank you!!!

  8. I love your ideas, my daughters are 8 and 6 years old, first time taking lunch at school, I am searching different website of nutrients and healthy meals, if you have more ideas please share with us, we are desperate for it.

  9. Some of these look like they would be kinda nasty. They probably are delicious warm, but I could never eat cold tomato soup.

    1. That is why the thermos is a wonderful thing!

      We freeze soups in pint jars and take them out of the freezer the night before. Heat them up in the morning. Throw them in the thermos and boom hot soup for my kids. :)

  10. Love the school lunch ideas. Do you know of any sites or blogs that cater to kids with dairy, eggs and peanut allergies?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Nerissa. I don’t know of any that specifically cater to those allergies, but, Weelicious (www.weelicious.com) is a great blog very focused on children. Best of luck. Jill

  11. Great article love the variety and the food quality!
    Where can I purchase those awesome containers you feature in your photos?

    Thanks
    P

  12. Thanks for the inspiration :) Just had to say, from a South African perpective, your portion sizes look big enough for most adult women!

  13. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you….!
    That’s an awesome blog!
    My boy has just started to have lunch boxes at nursery and starting school in September.
    I can’t tell you how much I’m eager to find different “recipes” to keep him healthy and excited about food!
    I am looking forward to more!
    Thank you again,
    Una

  14. Hi!! So excited to find your awesome site! Can you tell me where I can find the reusable yogurt tubes you pack in your daughters lunches? I’d love to add that to my lunch making arsenal!!
    Thanks much!!
    Happy New Year!!
    HeatherB

  15. I live in Madrid, Spain and an American friend has just put me onto your blog. I’m just about to start a 10 day group detox which involves cutting out all processes foods, so I’m happy to have you as inspiration – and I’m certain my 10 days will turn into many more.
    I’m thrilled also to find your post on school lunchbox ideas. The hot school lunches here are too fried and greasy, so I try to make a healthy packed lunch for my boys each morning. It requires some forward thinking and fresh inspiration – so I’m happy you have provided that!
    :)

  16. Lisa Nighswonger

    I love all your lunch ideas. I was getting so bored packing basically the same food for my kids. Thank you for some real “fresh” ideas;) The apple sandwiches you make or even the apple wedges you send, how do you keep them from turning brown before lunch time?

  17. Can you recommend a sunflower butter – bought the organic Earthfare sunflower butter only to discover it had added sugar and salt. Also, the seeds were from China and Argentina! Love your site.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Beth. We don’t actually eat it, but, I know Trader Joe’s has one. Not sure if you’ve checked that one out. Jill

  18. Hi! I just found your website and love, love, love it! Last week was the first week that I had to start packing my 4yr old’s lunch and let me tell you, I have been completely overwhelmed with not knowing what to pack that would be healthy. Your lunch ideas have started the ball rolling for me. I cannot thank you enough. Now, to just find the time to make all of these great creations. Please keep up the good work because you are an invaluable resource.

  19. Love your healthy kids lunches bt do you know of any recipes blogs or sites for Preservative & Gluten free recipes?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Micheelle. You should check out DeliciouslyOrganic.net and ElanasPantry.com – both are great for gluten free cooking. Jill

  20. I have been in and out of your blog for the last month, totally addicted. I am a daddy to 2 beautiful little girls, and I am constantly trying to expose them to healthy, delicious, real foods.
    This is the 10th time I have read through the lunch box page and tonight I started to tear up at the pictures:) Yep, I just admitted that, because all I am seeing is how much you love your kids to make this all happen. Thank you.

  21. I am a dad who stumbled upon this blog. Needless to say I was blown away! Having the pictures instantly helped. So much easier to see what it looks like rather than reading the ingredients and wondering… Wow! Don’t tell my wife that I was here. I want to surprise her and my 2 girls with your great ideas! Thanks!

  22. These lunches look fabulous and very outside-the-box! I’d like to print the list of options for when I need something new, but I’m trying to conserve ink. Are the ideas listed somewhere (so I don’t have to print the pics), or should I just pull them from here myself? (Just didn’t want to recreate the wheel)! Thanks.

  23. How do the frozen vegetables end up working in the lunchbox? Wouldn’t they still be pretty chilly/mushy when it came lunch time?

    What are real food lunch ideas for a toddler who is still needing foods to be more mushed up?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Sarah. Yes, they are still cold at lunch, I’m not sure they are mushy though. I would just suggest choosing “softer foods” for your toddler, but, no reason to think that these wouldn’t work for a younger child, assuming they are comfortable with solid foods. Jill

  24. I love your lunch box ideas! Thank you so much! I have a question about the ziplock containers you use. How do the kids take them to school? It looks like if they tipped it in their backpack, things would spill like the sour cream and pico de gallo sauce for the veggie casadillas. Do they keep it level somehow??

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jill. The lid actually seals off each compartment, so, they don’t leak between them. I have never had a problem with any of the food moving from compartment to compartment as long as the lid is sealed properly. Jill

  25. I prepare my school lunches the night before, but don’t pack fresh fruits because they brown so easily. Do you have any suggestions on keeping them from browning? My kids don’t like lemon juice on their fruits. Thanks for the help!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Julie. I also pack lunches at night, but, I leave the fruit out until the morning. Then I just cut that up and add it before we head out the door. For apples, though, I do use the lemon juice. Jill

    2. @Julie

      Instead of lemon juice, you can try cranberry or grape juice.

      Ascorbic acid in lemon juice, lime juice and cranberry juice also have a pH below 3.0. Concord grape juice and grapefruit juice also have a low pH.

  26. 1st- love your site, been following for over a year now, and I still love to see what you are posting!
    Main question- do you have a checklist you follow when packing? (ex: 1 grain, 2 fruits, 1 veggie, 1 dairy… etc.) I feel like I prepare good, whole food meals for my toddlers daily, but, I worry about the right amount of variety.
    Thanks! :)

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jenni. Glad you’re enjoying the blog. Thanks for reading. There is no “checklist” per se, but, I just try to provide a variety from each food group. Sorry I couldn’t give a more definitive answer. Jill

  27. I have received so many helpful hints & recipe ideas. Thank you so much! I do have a quick question though- when you make the PB & Apple sandwiches. How do you keep the apples from turning brown?

  28. These look great! What kind of silicone smoothie holders do you use and where did you get them? I heard that some of them smell kind of bad. My kids would love that in their lunch though.

  29. These look very tasty and nutritious. However I can assure you that my daughter wouldn’t touch hardly a one of them. She is extraordinarily picky. For example my dd would die before eating hummus, eggs, raw veggies etc. Great ideas though and will work on kids who aren’t so picky I’m sure.

  30. Oh my, THANK YOU!!! My twins recently started a preschool that requires us to bring lunch. I’ve been beside myself trying to figure out what containers (hot and cold) fit into their lunch boxes without going broke trying various ones. Plus, your photos of various meals helps me get past the PB&J, apple slices, carrot sticks and yogurt cup. Ah, I can breath now. Great blog.

  31. How do you keep the apples from browning? My girls love the pb and apple sandwiches but we only have them when were home and I can cut the apples fresh.

    Thank you.

    1. I work sixty hours a week, prepare everything from scratch and take a whole foods lunch and dinner with me every day (and get to the gym at least three times a week). MANY people who live this way have jobs, and demanding ones. It’s just plain incorrect (and disrespectful) to imply that the only people who do this have nothing better to do. It’s all about what you choose to prioritize.

      It also doesn’t have to be difficult and involve cutting sandwiches into cute shapes. What’s hard about cooking some brown rice in the rice cooker while you take out the trash and hop in the shower? What’s hard about canned chickpeas, leftover chicken, raw nuts from a jar or a spoonful of natural peanut butter? Fresh fruit out of a bowl on your counter? Scrambled eggs? Fresh carrots or broccoli with hummus? Real cheese with whole wheat crackers? If we make good choices in the grocery store – where we have to find time to go ANYWAY- then your home will be full of easy choices. I often make soups or something on the weekends and freeze them because I like to cook and have more options, but there’s no law saying that you HAVE to. There’s also no law saying you can’t ever treat yourself to something processed on a particularly insane day. If you eat well most of the time, those treats won’t matter.

      Eat however you want, but having a job isn’t a good excuse not to bother with healthy food. Almost everyone works, and if you develop health problems later in life, your body isn’t going to care that you “just didn’t have the time.”

  32. I love these lunches! My children are now 17 and in college so I wouldn’t get them to eat some of them but I would! I would love to know where you get those smoothie containers that look like bananas! One comment : I am currently seeing a nutritionist and just to note – green peas are great but they are counted as a carb and the body treats them as such. I would just swap for snap peas or snow shoe which are processed in the body as a veggie.

    Thanks again

  33. I noticed you packed sliced apples. Do you do anything to stop them from browning? I have a picky daughter. And I know she will not eat apples if they are brown.

  34. Have your kids caught any slack for their lunches? Mine have been made fun of for some of the food items I have provided, even carrots, getting called “bunny”. How have you handled this?

    1. Mine too! I sent hummus one day and it seemed to freak every one out at the lunch table. I have just said “aren’t you lucky that your Mom has time to get up at 5:30 and pack your lunch?” They are actually kind of excited each day to see what I will pack!

    2. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi VMonster. No, my kids haven’t gotten a hard time. It’s actually been more of an interest on the other kids parts about what they’re eating. I actually laughed yesterday when my son told me one of his classmates asked him if his mom was a chef! Sorry I can’t offer more help. Best of luck to you. Jill

  35. I LOVE your site and all the great ideas and photos that go with them. I am always looking for good fun healthy lunch/meal ideas for my kids and family. I also am always telling people/friends about your site. Awesome ideas!

  36. Lisa, thank you so much for all that you are doing to wage the war against processed and “unclean foods”! Obesity is a huge problem in our country, and yes eating disorders are just as bad, but helping to educate people on how to live healthy lifestyles helps to make people aware. Your site has helped me in planning meals for my family, and helps me in planning what to send my daughter for lunch at school. Her school is also a peanut and tree nut free school, so the cream cheese has been a nice replacement! Keep on doing what you are doing! :)

  37. My son Loves peanut butter, but he just started Kindergarten at a Peanut and Tree nut Free School. I wish there were something I could do that would taste the same.

  38. This is lovely if not a bit twee. I really love how these look before they’ve been smashed, thrown, swung on and off a school bus, and otherwise abused in transit prior to lunch. It would be worth knowing what they look like when they actually sit down to eat them. That said, eating enough at school is a big problem. Yes obesity is a problem, but so are eating disorders, which are actually more life-threatening than a few extra pounds. Watch carefully what is eaten, monitor what is thrown away if at all possible. And most importantly, if you are not a stay at home parent, make sure they have access to ample snacks after the school day.

  39. I LOVE these ideas! I do a bunch of these already, but found some great substitutions as well as new things to try. Quick question, we do the healthy smoothy thing, but I have been trying for a year to figure out the best way to get the kale completely blended. I am going to try and do the frozen pop (great idea). But normally I make the smoothies and the kids drink it with a straw and the kale pieces get stuck in the straw. I have tried everything (I think) to get it really blended well. Any suggestions? Also, what are your thoughts on wheatgrass vs kale? I have been buying frozen cubes of wheatgrass and adding them since it blends so much better than the kale. Awesome ideas! Good to know there are other moms that care so much about what their kids eat!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jessica. My guess is it depends on your blender…what kind do you have? I have a Ninja which chops it up very well. I know the Vitamix does too. Jill

  40. Love the containers! Do they fit in a rectangle lunch box to keep cold with an ice pack? I would like to buy some for my daughter!

  41. Hey! I love your site and have gotten lots of good ideas and passed on the link. I ordered those reusable “go-gurt” containers at the beginning of the summer and have put extra smoothies in them the kids have enjoyed frozen. But when I put one in their lunch the first day of school my daughter had an awful surprise waiting for her… smoothie all over the rest of her lunch! Does anyone have ideas for keeping the lid on after the smoothie melts?

    1. Steph- I put mine in a separate container that the pop just fits in diagonally, with the end bent over (the way hers fit into the three-portioned container). The round part is pushed against the corner, and that seems to keep the lid on.

  42. A silly question (perhaps): do you put lemon juice on the apples and pears to keep them from getting brown? They wouldn’t be very appetizing if they were brown.

  43. I don’t have children but if/when I do I hope to use your site as a reference tool for school lunches.

    First, I commend you on how brave you are to post all of your school lunches on your site for the world to see. That is VERY brave. Secondly, your food *is* real food so keep going with that :-) You have got a fan in me. I have told my friends with children to check you out and they also think you are great.

    Congrats on being so brave and for sharing your commitment with others.

  44. I read through everything to be sure this wasn’t addressed, lol. I am new to this site and LOVING it! What are the things ( and where could I find them ) that you put the smoothie pops in? I LOVE that idea! My daughter is about to start preschool three days a week and I am SO thankful for the healthy ideas. We do lots of smoothies at home so that would be perfect!

  45. Sorry if this has been mentioned but I’m afraid most of these lunches don’t contain real food. It’s great that you are avoiding processed foods, but “organic” doesn’t equal “food”.

    Corn, whole wheat, cold cuts, cheese sticks, beans, grains, peanut butter, etc. are all poisonous to the human body and contribute to many of today’s common health conditions. A book I’d highly recommend is “it starts with food” — you will really enjoy it and it will give you a glimpse into what real food truly is.

    1. Kevin,

      I agree with you however compared to most horrific lunches kids are eating today this is a step in the right direction. I am unable to get my kids to eat 100% grain free the way that I do but the amount they eat is significantly limited. There are some great grain free muffin and biscuit options using almond or coconut flour on this site: http://thenourishinghome.com/

  46. What did you use to make the strawberries and apples into shapes? My kids would love that. Thanks for all the great ideas!

  47. Hey Lisa, I made homemade bean burritos using your tortilla recipe and the refried bean recipe. I added organic cheddar cheese to the warm beans before I mashed them. I was able to make a dozen burritos and wrap them individually to freeze. Then I can defrost one overnight in the fridge and they are ready to eat by lunchtime. My two children LOVE them! Such a great alternative to those other frozen burritos I used to buy!

  48. These all look great. I just took my daughter “shopping” for her favorites to try out in her lunch this week!

  49. I noticed you had the BPA free bags with the monster faces on them. I had not even thought about the containers or generic ziplock bags having BPA. Do you order them special? Can you buy BPA free bags and containers at the grocery store?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Danica. I know you can buy the BPA free containers at the store. I’ll be honest, I’m not certain on the bags. Jill

  50. Awesome – thank you so much!One quick question though – where did you get those awesome containers that are divided in three? I need a few of those!

    Thanks!

  51. These are great ideas, I have a 13 year old and have such a hard time giving him different ideas on what to pack for his lunch….any ideas for older kids?

    1. What does he like to eat for dinner and can you send that for lunch? My 14 yr old takes a thermos of left-overs most days. Pasta with some kind of sauce, random casserole or stir-fry, taco meat/beans/cheese to eat w/a tortilla, soups, stews, chili. I’ve even put chunks of warmed quiche in a thermos before (although it can be eaten cold too). For cold lunches, A lot of times she will take a taco salad or a chef salad (meat, eggs, cheese). Sliced cheese and meat with crackers is a change of pace from a sandwich. Leftover cold pizza. Along w/the thermos or cold entree, she takes a container of sliced veggies and a piece or container of fruit most days. Sometimes there will be some yogurt or some kind of baked good (muffin, quick bread, oatmeal cookies) that she’ll add for a change. The trick is to buy a top quality thermos so it will stay hot until lunch. Ours are stainless steel & I thought they were expensive at the time, but we’ve had them probably 5 years and they’re going strong.

    2. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Kristen. There’s no reason you can’t use these ideas and increase portion size as appropriate. Jill

  52. Great ideas for school lunches. I read that some asked you if there was enough food in these meals & I just have to say, I think there is plenty in these lunches. My almost 5 yr old grandson is an extremely picky eater & needs small portion sizes, he gets overwhelmed with too much and ends up not eating at all. This has given me some great ideas for things I think he might just eat. I know he would love to have smoothies in the freezie pops, I’m going to get some of those. He just started school, pre-k, and needs to take a snack, thank you so much for all the great ideas!!

  53. Did you make and package those frozen smoothies? If so, where can I get the tube? Super cute ideas on here! Thanks! :)

  54. I have 6 and 11 year old boys. These are perfect portion sizes for my 6 year (actually, he usually doesn’t eat all of it.) For my very hungry 11 year old (who also doesn’t usually eat lunch until nearly 1pm) I add something…usually something in a thermos and another fruit. They both drink milk for lunch and the older one drinks water too (the school gives any child who wants it a free 8oz water.)

    On the peanut allergy, last year my younger son had a class where they brought snacks to share (which I disliked….but that is another topic.) We were told there was a peanut allergy so to avoid those products and that was it. I couldn’t believe it. If it had been my child, I would have provided a “safe” list and not left it up to the other parents to check!

    1. I agree with the safe list, my children don’t have any allergies but some in their class do. I always let the teacher know if i want to bring something plenty ahead of time and ask her to double check with the child’s parents as to what they can and cannot have.

    2. My son is allergic to peanuts and he has always just brought in his own snack. In preschool I would go in and okay the shared snack with his teacher. Lists of safe snacks sound great, but sometimes it can be tricky because labels tend to change frequently. One day a certain thing is safe and the next time it might have changed. A parent buying off the list might not check the label, assuming it’s safe if it was on the list. But a list is certainly better than nothing. I’m not sure if the parent of the child you are referring to literally checked the snack each day or just kind of trusted that nothing peanutty would be served. Some kids (like my son) avoid anything that even has a peanut ingredient warning and other allergic kids just go ahead and eat those things too. For us it was easier for my son just to eat his own thing. Once he was out of preschool there were no more shared snacks in any of his classes thankfully.

  55. Thank you for the wonderful suggestions! My kids are grown, but they would have loved these different ideas for their lunches! The grandkids will truly love having their mom enjoy fixing their lunches with such great ideas! Thanks for sharing!

  56. At the end of last school year, my kids came home having not touched their lunches. They were bored eating the same things day after day, and I was SO bored making it! We’ve been using this as a guide for summer camp lunches, and everyone is so much happier. If you create other exciting lunches, please keep us posted! By the way, my kids don’t like the PB&J smoothie. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM? More for me!

  57. What sunflower butter do you use? We go to a nutfree preschool so my daughter eats sunflower butter on her sandwich everyday (goal this year is to change things up, she is my super picky eater) I normally buy Trader Joe’s, but noticed it had cane juice in it. The Earth Fare brand has sugar in it. Thanks

    1. I buy it from Trader Joe’s and unfortunately it is not organic. The organic stuff from Earth Fare is made in a factory that processes nuts (which isn’t allowed) so it’s kind of our only choice at the moment!

  58. I thank you. My family went paleo about a year ago and every kids lunch blog I go to has a ton of, I don’t know how else to say it, CRAP food! I can’t believe people can feed their kids prepackaged, preservative filled garbage and then have the nerve to ask MY kid is eating enough!? Well, again, I thank you for some fresh ideas and more importantly hope for a healthy America!

  59. Laura Whisenhunt

    You blog is amazing! I’m so glad to have found you on facebook. Thank you SO much for sharing your ideas. I am inspired and excited about getting lunches ready for my two boys :)

  60. Hi,
    I’m in the process of getting my son and I on “real” foods. Since school is starting soon I have a question about converting my 5 year old from capri-sun’s to something healthier? He doesn’t like plain water or plain milk so do you have any suggestions? I’m gathering all of your ideas and trying to get everything in line for our new healthy lifestyle. Thanks for all of the information.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Naomi. I would suggest giving the water and/or milk a try for a while, he may surprise you and drink it when it’s the only thing there. Especially if his lunch is after recess, he may be so thirsty he just drinks it. Jill

    2. I agree with the reply…I used to buy juice for my kids ALL the time; the big bottles from BJs, and finally I got sick of paying for it, so I just stopped buying it. My daughter was hooked on it and I knew I had to get her to drink more water. She would protest at first, but now I just buy milk and they have water a whole lot more than they used to. They’ll actually ask for water now and they don’t even miss the juice. Instead of adding sugary chocolate to the milk if he doesn’t like it, try a little vanilla extract. My kids LOVE it!

  61. Just to note that your protein sources are fine, but also add leafy greens as a protein source. North America doesn’t seem to know that there is protein in leafy greens as well, otherwise how to deer and moose get so big, hey?

    And no kidding on the portions sizes, hey?

  62. I love seeing that you send water along to school rather than juice boxes. Every other school lunch blog I have seen includes some type of juice as if children can’t live without it!

  63. As a mom of a child with a Severe Peanut Allergy, I want everyone to understand how awesome it is to have a school that takes so seriously allergies! There CANNOT be an “accident” with these kids. If they eat a peanut product, some if they even touch it, can DIE! I had an incident happen at my son’s school where he was served a peanut butter cookie. Thankfully his older brother noticed and removed it from his plate before he had time to eat it! It is scary and very hard to let my son go to school, knowing I am in not completely in control of what he might eat. Please understand how serious this is. If you are concerned with your child not being able to eat “nut” products at school, give her all she wants while at home. Understand that this “rule” may have saved many lives!

    1. I hate that for your son, our school is peanut free but they do allow peanut things with packed lunches they just set at a different table and wash their hands and mouth afterwards. I have been looking for a tasty alternative for pb for my oldest son who loves taking pb and apples to school, could you recommend a good pb alternative that we could try?

      1. Sunbutter is a great peanut free alternative to peanut butter. My son is allergic to peanuts too and on behalf of all allergic kids, a huge THANK YOU to everyone who follows a “no peanuts” rule. I know it’s an inconvenience, and we thank you for your willingness to help.

      2. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

        Hi Courtney…I know a lot of people use sunbutter and say they like it. Good luck. Jill

  64. I have recently (the past year or so) become OBSESSED with being healthy and eating a lot of organic, whole, non-processed foods. So, I love these meal ideas! And I’m a teacher, so these will be perfect to make for myself!

  65. Love your blog!! Keep up the good work!! The meals you provide for your children are so awesome! I would love to have that for lunches!!! My kids aren’t little anymore but these ideas are good for any age! So much better than fast or processed food!

  66. Christie Bowdle

    I have what may seem like a silly question… Frozen Peas? These are just peas taken out of the freezer, not cooked? We are not huge pea lovers, but I am thinking this may be a cool concept. Same question with the corn. Do you cook it first, then freeze? Also, what kind of cream cheese do you use?

    Thank you for your help! Excellent post!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Christie. I use organic valley cream cheese. Yes, just frozen from the freezer. By the time they get to the lunch, the veggies are defrosted. Jill

  67. This is just a FABULOUS resource! Love the pictures and all your ideas are wonderful. My kids would eat most of this, I just needed the inspiration. Love the homemade pizza “lunchable”. I almost can’t wait for lunch packing!

  68. Hi –I have an 11 year old who is over weight. I am starting your suggestions this summer. BUT, do you have lunch ideas for her age group?

    1. I agree with you. I think these are great ideas but the portion sizes are more attuned to a four year old not a 9-12 year old boy. Wish there were more ideas posted.

      1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

        Hi Shannon. Of course, you could always just increase the portion sizes. Or, also consider including a few extra things with each meal. Jill

      2. I have a 9 year old son and these size portions are more than enough for him. I’ve noticed most of my friends are surprised when they see how much my children eat. They ask are you sure that’s enough? Of course it is! We need to teach our children portion control. You eat until you’re satisfied not until you are ready to burst! You are teaching them to stuff themselves at every meal and expanding their stomachs. What an injustice to do that to a child! Then these same friends wonder why their kids are overweight. My friends son is ten and is embarrassed to wear a swimsuit when we take him swimming because he doesn’t want to show his belly. How horrible for a child to even have to worry about that and not just think about having fun! His mother sends him to swim for exercise, that’s great but then let’s him eat three hot dogs! It’s 20% exercise 80% what you eat.

  69. I love your ideas. I just want to say, as a teacher, I think your portions are ideal. If you have ever walked through a cafeteria, so much food ends up in the garbage. Kids don’t want their parents seeing what they DON’T eat.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Stephany. Are you referring to the mix in the tray? You can just simply make that yourself with whatever your kids like. Jill

      1. I was looking at the 4th picture from the top and I thought that was a store bought package of trail mix in with the pita sandwich. Now that I look closely, I guess it is just a ziptop baggie. Sorry! I will pay closer attention next time! :-)

  70. How do you keep the fruit from browning? My kids love it, but haven’t found a good way to keep it from browning.
    Thanks!!!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Kersten – I usually pack them frozen so they are pretty much thawed (and cold) by lunchtime. Jill

  71. What I would do to be able to send my child with any peanut or nut item! These are great except for the fact that the schools here are nut free. I hate not being able to send peanut butter

  72. I love the divided trays, but found they were too large for most lunch boxes. I finally found one that works great, so I wanted to pass it along for anyone else who might be having trouble. The “Munch & Lunch” bags by Wildkin are large enough to accommodate the container, a water bottle, and a few ice packs. They come in lots of cute designs. I got them from ebags.com, but I also saw them on WalMart’s website and a few designs on Amazon as well.

  73. I’m sorry if this has been mentioned, I didnt read over all the comments. Have you ever heard of Planetbox? We have them for school lunches and LOVE them! They are well worth every penny!

  74. One of my favorite blog posts….ever! How do you get the apple slices in the apple sandwich to not brown? Lemon juice? Working slowly to transition our family to Real Food and while we ate healthy food before, the Pollan books and related documentaries changed our outlook entirely. Breakfast is still a struggle and may take us awhile to get completely off the cereal. We don’t do school lunches…too processed……so this post just gave me about 300 great ideas for school lunches for my 5 kids. Thanks.

    1. Add lemon juice if you want to but it’s not necessary. My kids don’t like sour lemon juice on their apples so I just let them turn brown. They have been eating them this way since they were old enough to eat apples so they don’t know any difference. There’s nothing wrong with brown apples – it’s just natural oxidation from reacting with the air. It doesn’t hurt to eat it (assuming you kept them cold until eaten) and it doesn’t change the taste.

  75. Awesome! My daughter is only 2 but I might use some of these ideas to pack my own lunches. :) And I don’t know how anyone could think you were not sending enough food, I think it looks like plenty! Thanks for posting.

    1. I agree! I’m not sure how anyone could think these lunches are not of adequate size! I’m a second-yr college student, but when I was in HS and bringing my lunches, mine were of the same size!

  76. My kids are grown now, wish I could do it all over again. I hope you are an inspiration to a million people so that we can feed our children properly. It is our job! You’ve done a really good thing here and I hope your children love how much you are doing to take good care of them!! very creative, beautiful to look at and so tasty too. Thank you.

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