The Happy Lunch Box

I tried to keep the first couple weeks of lunch packing easy on myself.

We were only 4 days into school and already the kids were complaining about their lunches.

Holden hated the Cheez-its and the skin on the pre-sliced apples.

Elliott wanted me to immediately write out a check for $100 for hot lunch to keep in her account.

In our house, buying hot lunch has always been a treat ~ a few times a month. I’d like to keep it that way especially because they are both in school now.

I sent out an SOS on Facebook for lunch ideas and compiled them to help other mamas that may be in the same lunch boat.

Here are over 80 lunchbox fillers…


 Mini bagel with cream cheese

 Granola bar/CLIF Z-bar/Nutri-grain bar

Nuts ~ peanuts, almonds, walnuts {unless you are a nut free school, of course}

 Frozen Gogurts

Fruit roll

 Mini rice cakes

 String cheese, Babybel or Laughing Cow cheese wedges

 Danimal Smoothie

 Pirate’s Booty

 Dried fruit

 Banana chips

{“Main Dish”}

 English Muffin Pizza

Leftovers from the night before

 Hot dog or corn dog heated and wrapped in foil

 Hummus and pita

 Cheese and crackers

 Salami, turkey or ham and cheese roll up

 Strawberry and cream cheese sandwich

 Cream cheese and cucumber sandwich

 Lettuce wraps with diced chicken

Hard boiled or deviled eggs

 Frozen Taquitos

Grilled cheese

Hot Pocket

{wrap warmed foods in foil to help keep in the heat}

 Tuna Salad on crackers

 Frozen waffles {toasted} with peanut butter

 Tortellini Kebabs {thread tortellini, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls on a skewer} from the magazine September 2012

Asian Chicken Pita {toss shredded chicken, carrots and crunchy noodles with peanut dressing and spoon into a pita} from September 2012

 {Thermos Options}

 Pot stickers


 Chili and cornbread


Pizza rolls

 Bagel Bites

 Piggies in a blanket

 Chicken nuggets

 Fried Rice

 Ramen noodles

 Mini egg frittatas baked in cupcake pans

 Mac n cheese with ham and peas

 Orange chicken or teriyaki chicken and rice

{Fruit & Veggies}

 Cantaloupe chunks

 Sugar snap peas

Red or bell pepper slices

Ants on a log {celery, peanut butter and raisins}

 Applesauce cup

 Mandarin orange cup

 Apple slices with peanut butter

 Baby carrots with Ranch

 Cuties {mini seedless oranges}

 Kiwi slices



Cucumber slices

{“Side Dishes”}

Shelled edamame

 Trail Mix



 Cottage cheese

 Veggie sticks

 Dried peas

 Black beans {beans}

 Fishing poles and fish {pretzel sticks and goldfish crackers}

 Tortilla chips and guac

 Pasta salad

 PB & Banana S’mores {stack graham crackers with peanut butter and banana slices} from September 2012

 Pop chips or Sun Chips

{Sweet Treats}

 Fig Newtons

Fruit Snacks {I like Motts Medleys}

Kettle Corn

 Mini Oreos or Nutter Butters

 S’mores mix ~ Mini marshmallows, Teddy Grahams and mini chocolate chips

 Mini muffins

 Rice crispy {or other homemade} cereal bar

Banana pops {cut bananas in half and insert popsicle stick into each piece. Dip in melted chocolate and roll in sliced almonds. Freeze on waxed paper for 15 minutes then wrap in plastic wrap until ready to send to school} from September 2012

{In A Pinch}


Smuckers Uncrustables

 Buy school hot lunch


 Capri Sun

 Roarin’ Waters flavored water {Capri Sun}

 Juicy Juice juice boxes

 Horizon Organic Milk {doesn’t need to be refrigerated}


{Tips from other mamas and teachers}

When hungry, kids will eat anything cold or room temperature.

Kids throw away a lot of food, so the best thing to do is feed them a good, healthy breakfast and a big dinner and send them to school with little snacky foods.

Give them a sandwich when they get home instead of packing one in their lunch box ~ keep it simple.

They don’t have a lot of time to eat so quick, easy bites are best.

Have them finish anything left in their lunch box as a snack when they get home.

{A few lunch-y articles shared from friends} article {A month of school lunches}

Red Tricycle article {Beyond the Boring Lunch Box}

School Lunch Roundup {lots of unprocessed food ideas}

Yummy Lunch Box Gallery


I don’t do it often enough, but I do like to tuck a little note written in a napkin or cute paper once in awhile. I found these little cards at Target in the dollar section which are blank on the back for a personal note…

I hope this list is helpful. I tried to include kid-friendly, somewhat easily obtainable and easy-to-prepare options which is what I think all busy moms are looking for.

Please, please feel free to comment with your lunch box favorites as we can NEVER have too many suggestions!

If you realllly want to be inspired, go to Pinterest and type {“kids lunch ideas” and “bento lunches”} into the search box. You know….if you have some extra time on your hands.

My plan is to share some lunch ideas via Instagram as I test them with my kiddos. Please follow me {@aaspiras} on IG if you’re interested not only for happy lunch box ideas, but other daily goings on in my life.  I’d love to hear from you and see what you’re up to, too.

THANK YOU to all my FB mamas that commented and shared their ideas, those who forwarded links and tore out articles from magazines. I appreciate the input and I know other mamas will as well!

So………let’s do lunch ~ best of luck brown baggin’ it this school year!


Linking up with April over at {The GINGERBREAD Blog} for Sweet Saturday!


4 thoughts on “The Happy Lunch Box”

  1. Love ya Amy ~ Love all of the ideas that you have. I feel like a good momma I had the Target notes already bought as well as a sandwich cutter in the shape of a butterfly for Olivia who hates crust 🙂 Thanks again for always having such fun, easy and wonderful ideas. Love ya girl. Hugs to you and your entire family. oxoxo Ronna

  2. Uh, yes Ronna, you are a good momma even without the notes and the cookie cutter! 😉 Thanks for following the blog and IG…so glad we can all share ideas! XO

  3. You’re such an awesome Mommy!!! Glad you finally find some resolutions to the lunch box blues. Konnor chooses to buy lunch but we fight because I want him to bring lunch. I do not agree with the “healthy” food they serve at school…not to mention they charge $2.75 and it’s not even worth it. Hopefully I can take some of your ideas and get Konnor to enjoy bringing lunch!

  4. Thank you! It’s such a struggle…I would love to not buy as many groceries and put that money to the school lunches, but $2.75 times two now adds up and I think we can still make lunch for less and it be healthier. Good Luck with getting Konnor to pack his lunch. I am on the search for some Bento box type containers that I can do fun things with like on Pinterest. But I have to wonder what those adorable lunches look like by the time the kids eat them….they’ve got to me all smooshed and messed up, right?? Always a challenge…. XO

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