It’s back to school time! Over the years I’ve packed a LOT of school lunches. My kids aren’t into sandwiches….so you’ll find mostly easy non-sandwich lunch box ideas for kids on my list. While all my photos aren’t instagram perfect lunch inspiration, they are REAL LIFE lunch ideas you have time to make and your kids [might] eat. Because real kids have eating preferences, can be picky, and healthy means something different to everyone…and frankly I don’t have the time or will to cut flowers out of cantaloupe.
Easy lunch box ideas for back to school!
I *try* to pack healthy lunches…but some weeks the lunchbox comes back full and uneaten and my Italian mama heart can’t take it…so I pack what they will eat be it leftover pizza or chicken nuggets or big old wedge of cake from a birthday. Then I try again to re-introduce healthy foods to their lunch boxes. Often with Oreos. You know, real life, real kids, realistic lunches.
It takes a village! We’d love to hear what lunch box ideas for are working at your house, PLEASE drop your ideas at the bottom of this post in the comments!
Bento Kids Lunch Box Protein Ideas:
The hardest part of packing healthy kids’ lunch boxes for me is packing proteins [they will actually eat]…I find that when I slice up protein into small bite size pieces, they eat more of it. Even salami I slice up into strips.
Tip: breakfast proteins are 100% okay to pack in a lunch box if your kid will eat that! Bacon? Yep, pack it! Maple breakfast sausage? Yep, pack it! Canadian Bacon? Yep, pack it! Who decided what food is “breakfast” versus “lunch” or “dinner” – it’s totally arbitrary so if you kids will eat bacon, sausages, etc…send it!
- ham or turkey roll slices
- sliced salami
- sliced hot dogs or mini hot dogs
- peanut butter or macadamia butter for dipping
- sliced chicken and apple sausage
- hard boiled egg
- tuna or chicken salad
- grilled chicken strips
- maple breakfast sausage
- canadian bacon
Food Temperature Tip: Don’t decide and voice out loud that certain lunch box foods need to be a certain temperature. I always pack my kids lunch boxes on an ice pack but even with that, it’s not as cold as it should be. And for foods that are normally warm…well they’re definitely not warm. If your kiddo doesn’t notice temp differences in food, don’t project your temperature preferences!! Test it out. You might find they don’t mind room temperature bacon!
Hot Thermos: For some foods which my kids have balked at, I use a kids food thermos. Needs to sit with boiling hot water for a full five minutes before placing food in it. For nuggets or foods that get soggy, try drying it completely, and then placing them in a paper towel.
Try these no-bake omega energy bites for a healthy sweet treat for lunch boxes!
In no particular order, here are my not-pinterest-perfect lunch box ideas for kids…
I’ve only included my healthier successful lunches in this post, since I don’t think any of you need to see pizza slices and cake packed in a lunchbox. lol. But trust me, I’m not perfect and we have those days (or weeks) too.
What are your favorite things to pack for a healthy-ish kids lunch? Anything unusual that goes over really well? It takes a village and we’d love to hear what’s working at your house!
Hope you liked these lunch box ideas for kids! Be sure to pin this so you can find it later!
Adding lunch box info re the ketchup – I’m often asked about putting the ketchup right into the lunch box and leakage – and here’s the dice! You have to hand wash your lunch boxes to keep the seal working so that it will seal against liquid spillover. I know it says it’s dishwasher safe – and technically it is – but ultimately the hot water and heated dry will warp them just a tiny tiny bit and they don’t seal so that you can put liquids in. It’s up to you what is most important – ease of washing or packing sauces/watery fruits/etc. That’s a call only you can make…but that’s how I am able to do it 🙂