Tuesday, 30 August 2011

lunch box ideas

Well, in exactly one week from this moment, I'll be busy packing lunches and urging kids on so that we're not late for the first day of school.

I started thinking about school lunches about a week ago. It's not my favourite thing to do - make lunches - but I always start September with a good attitude and some new ideas. So I'm trolling for lunch box treasures - tried and true, and new and inspiring.

Here's my list of tried and true lunchbox ideas (for daughter #1; we'll see what daughter #2 includes on her tried and true list this year):

* hummus and pita
* pasta with pesto in a thermos
* pancake, cut up, in a thermos with a side of maple syrup (in a container that's sealed in a ziploc bag just in case)
* salmon, tuna, or soy butter sandwiches
* hard-boiled eggs
* olives
* pickles
* fruit, sometimes cut up, or berries
* cut up veggies and dip
* granola bars
* banana bread
* leftover chicken noodle soup in a thermos with baguette to dip
* hot chocolate in a thermos (so good on a cold day :)
* mini muffins
* tortilla wraps - lots of options (banana/soy butter; chicken; salmon)
* nachos, sour cream, and salsa
* Baby Bel cheese
* yogurt

Here are some I want to try:

* French toast strips
* granola + yogurt + fruit (all in separate mini containers)
* grilled chicken strips with dipping sauce (honey-mustard or bbq)

With my kids, it's all about packing a bunch of little things. That's why I love these Bento lunch box ideas, inspired by the Japanese tradition. They look super cute, but I'm not sure how many mornings I'll have the patience to make their lunch boxes look like artistic masterpieces.

This is the closest I got one day last year, with this sad-looking mangled kiwi monkey and beat-up pear dog.

I drew inspiration from these books: One Lonely Seahorse, How Are You Peeling?, and Food For Thought, all by Saxton Freymann. Brilliant.

I'd love to hear your lunch ideas. What has worked for you?


  1. One cool lunch idea I saw on a cooking show was to make a little taco salad. Pack a mini bag of Doritos along with a container full of salad stuff, a dressing, and a fork. At lunch they can crush the bag a little bit to break up the Doritos, open it up, dump in the salad and dressing, mix it up, and then they get to eat the salad out of the bag. I thought this was a neat idea for a "treat" lunch!

  2. Cam: I'm no lunch lady. I'm looking to take here, not give. :) Take more wonderful ideas from you.

    Carrie: I know. Ridiculous.

    Kristen: I love it! And I know my daughters would too. Thanks!

  3. Arghhhhh, school lunches. What a fiasco last year with Levi. He basically didn't eat much of anything that I sent him last year, and I tried much of what you had on your list. His problem is that he doesn't like 'messy' stuff, so that rules out anything with a dip. He also doesn't like sandwiches, and decided he doesn't like cheese in school lunches either, though he does eat it at home. Sometimes he did eat cold quesadillas, but not consistently. That's the problem - one day he would eat something, the next day not. I did buy him a thermos this year though, so maybe we'll try pasta & soup (though that could be messy...). Sigh.

  4. Rebecca, your blog has given me yet another reason to be thankful: the school cafeteria. No school-lunch making for this gal! On today's menu: tomato and basil salad to start, main meal of meatballs and couscous, cheese and fruit for dessert. Not rubbing it in, just realizing how very lucky I am. ;-)

  5. You are lucky, Mara. Those French know how to do food. And they don't have a silly 20 minute lunch break either. 2 hours is way more civil.

  6. Yes, they really do know how to do food. And 90% of the time I love it. Then there are those times when I really wish I could lean over the countertop and eat cold ravioli straight from the can without feeling like I'm committing a major cultural sin ;-)

  7. I also want to add that your list of lunch ideas is so creative! I love reading the other ideas your blog readers have had too. I only have Wednesday lunches to worry about since the kidlets don't go to school that day, so perhaps this will inspire me to serve them up something fun :-)