Tips for Organizing School Lunches: Beyond Bagged Sandwiches

pack healthy lunchI am SUPER EXCITED about school starting this year.  This will be the first year that my little one will be taking a lunch to school.  Fortunately for me, she’s even MORE excited than I am about her new lunchbox.  We had a dry run at the zoo this week with her new lunchbox, and it was a big hit.

pack healthy lunch

Here’s the funny thing.  I absolutely dislike sandwiches.  Wierd, I know.  Unless it’s assembled in front of me, preferably smushed in a panini press, and served immediately, I can’t stand sandwiches. But sandwiches are the staple of the school lunch, right?  Hopefully not for us.  Here are my tips for organizing school lunches that go beyond the bagged sandwich:

1.  Have the right containers.  I’m giving away a brand new lunch bag, Lunch Blox kit with ice pack, and BPA-free water bottle, all from Rubbermaid, all to one lucky winner.  Keep reading to easily enter this giveaway below.

pack healthy lunch

2.  Small doses.  Compartmentalizing, like what you can do in a bento-style container like the one I’m giving away, makes it easy to offer leftovers and fruits and veggies in interesting combinations.  I’ve heard nutritionists say that it doesn’t matter whether your kids are eating fruits or veggies, but eating a variety of fresh or whole foods is really the key.  Smaller containers with more variety means they are more likely to eat at least some of their choices.

3.  Make it interesting.  We’ve been warming up this week, and created a butterfly for dinner (see above) and a turtle for dessert.  These guys are too fragile to make it into the lunch box, but I take my cues from another blogger,, and I’m trying to “cute it up” a bit.


pack healthy lunch

The turtle is a canned pear body, clementine feet, and a prune head.

4.  Make it fun, even when you’re tired.  I know I’m going to run out of creative juices on about the second week of packing lunches, so I’ve brought in some help.  I have these super cute  Bento Decoration – Food Picks (Animal) 15pcs
and egg-molds ready to make a boring portion of leftover tuna casserole ready to go.
pack healthy lunch

Even these cute Princess Ice Pack- 2 pack
that we bought on a whim at Olly Shoes yesterday (of all places!) made my daughter smile.


5.  Involve the kids.  Right, you thought for sure my last point was going to be pack lunches the night before, right?  Yeah, that works, too.  But seriously, if you have your tot involved in choosing and prepping their food, it takes five times longer, but they are much more interested in eating it. My kids LOVE to peel their own hard boiled eggs.  And when I can use Plastic Egg Molds  like these to make even the humble hard boiled egg cute, I’m in!

pack healthy lunch

I know I’m going to need some more great ideas to make it all the way through the school year, so please share your best ideas in the comments for coming up with healthy, varied, whole foods options for school lunches.   And enter before this giveaway closes on 8/19/12 so I can ship your lunchbag out before school starts.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you just see a line that says “A Rafflecopter Giveaway,” that means you are probably looking at a picture of the web page, and not the actual web page.  Easy peasy.  Just click on the article link at the top, and you’ll go right to the web page, where you can click and enter.


This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Wendy Pesce

    You can do pastas in a thermos, yogurts, cheese and crackers

    1. Darla

      Great ideas. I’m thinking I might have to introduce frozen yogurt tubes to our house.

  2. Maria

    Despite the spiffy little thermos we bought, my son refuses to eat anything warm we send for lunch. So the most out of the box we go is probably hummus and veggies to dip.

    1. Darla

      Hummus and veggies! Our favorites. I can imagine making a beach scene with starfish cucumbers and pretzel driftwood. Thanks for the idea!

  3. susan

    I love salads

    1. Darla

      Me too! Comically, my older one will eat veggies as long as I don’t actually call them salad.

  4. Michelle W

    I don;t know about my “best” but I know the kids love it when I give them cut up veggies and fruit with dip. Or salads. Cheese and crackers. Anything unexpected.

    1. Darla

      Not sure why, but sending dip in with a packed lunch seems like trouble. Time will tell.

  5. Courtney

    Elbow noodles w/ diced tomatoes, broccoli and a bit of shredded cheddar cheese. Delicious!

    1. Darla

      yum. Sauce or no sauce?

  6. Trish @I_am_Succeeding

    meat and cheese rolls ups

  7. Alison Shaffet

    I don’t like sandwiches much either. My kids are big on wraps. This new Rubbermaid lunchblox is great! I bought the salad one too. I like that the set all packs neatly in a blox/ block. The bento clips are cute. Thanks for sharing about the fun ways to pack lunch.

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