Now, you might be looking at this lunchbox and thinking, “What’s so ultimate about this?” Keep in mind, I am a mother of 2, so I’m keeping it real today. All of the lunchbox ideas you will see here are all lunches that my kids would actually eat.
When the good people from Lindsay Olives reached out to me about this Ultimate Lunchbox Challenge, I jumped because my kids actually love olives. I mean, they love them.
This photo was actually from a post I published in October of last year. This is still their favorite way to eat olives! Sticking them on their fingers and gobbling them up! Green or black, they love their olives.
So, we’re back in the swing of things. Back in school, doing homework and yes, all parents’ favorite: Packing Lunches. Not! Now, why is this such a cause for stress? Sick of packing the same ole thing all the time? Your child is a picky eater? Most of the time, does the lunch box come back with 80% of the food still there? Recently, a friend of mine posted something on Facebook asking if Pinterest Moms really exist and would we ever really spend 20 or 30 minutes making sandwiches shaped like Hello Kitty?
Don’t know what a Pinterest Mom is? Check these out.
Now, yes, all of these ideas are cute but are we really going to take the extra 30-40 minutes to make lunches like this for our kids when we could be getting 30-40 extra minutes of shut eye? I personally am in the camp of- save these cute ideas for special occasions, like birthday parties. Do you know how much time your child has to eat at school? My daughter has less than 25 minutes. And I actually visited her at lunch one day and saw how much time she actually has, after she has found her table and after all the gabbing with her friends. Not as much time as you think.
So, with that in mind, here are my lunchbox packing tips and ideas on how to make lunch boxes fun and flavorful. And I’m hoping some of these tips will help you and your child get through the lunch box packing routine with some smiles.
My Lunchbox Tips
- Keep it simple.
- Keep it healthy and colorful.
- Personalize it.
- Bento Box it.
- Change it up.
Keep it simple.
Remember, your child probably only has 15-20 minutes to actually eat so I say keep it simple. My kids like easy finger foods or things they can easily pop into their mouths. Have the fruits and veggies already sliced. And for you, Mom or Dad: prep the lunches the night before. Everything is ready and easier to pack up in the morning.
Or, sometimes when I need to pack a lunch at the last minute, I just pack all of her favorite things. Easy peasy. Yes, my Madeline loves everything you see here. She pops those olives and grape tomatoes into her mouth like they are candy.
Keep it healthy and colorful.
The way our kids are learning to eat now is shaping them into how they will eat as adults. Let’s teach them by example. Eat healthy. Pack healthy. Now, of course, if given the option of a cookie or a carrot, my kids will go for the cookie. But I’ve always given them raw veggies to snack on so they eat those as well too.
Kids love eating the colors of the rainbow. Keep the skin on those apples. Pack some raw veggies. Keep it colorful. You’d be surprised how your child’s eyes will light up in excitement.
So, I said leave the complex animal shaped sandwiches for birthday parties or special occasions. . but I, personally, am all for leaving stickers or writing little notes or cards and packing those in the lunchbox as well. Just a note to say “Hi” or “I love you.” It really brightens their day. And it gets even better when they are old enough and can actually read!
Bento Box it.
I really think kids love food more when it’s organized. My kids love food and food containers that have compartments. That’s why I love these LunchBots. It keeps all the food separate. And keeps it clean and fun for the kids. Remember, kids are visual too. Also, pay attention to the container. Is it easy to open? Make sure your child can open the container with no problems.
Change it up.
This is probably why we parents stress so much about packing the lunches but we have to change it up a bit. They can’t eat chicken bites everyday. And even if they can, change up the protein and add different dipping sauces for more flavor and fun. Instead of a sandwich, try a tortilla wrap or tortilla wheel or circles. Try to change it up as much as possible. But do not introduce a brand new food in a lunchbox. Save these new foods for dinner time at home.
My daughter likes pasta salad and she loves pesto so this is what we came up with.
I hope some of these tips and ideas work for you and if not, and if you actually prefer your child to get a HOT meal from the school cafeteria. . that is, if you can trust your child to make wise choices in the lunch line, buying lunch is a great option too!
Especially if you stayed up too late that one time- ok, maybe 3 or 4 times, catching up on episodes of Downton Abbey. Just sayin’. If you are able and have the time, I highly recommend you visiting your child at school during lunch time. You can check out the salad bar, see what kinds of foods they are serving and – I think most elementary schools try to have volunteers there to help the kids make smarter choices and encourage the fruits and veggies; at least this is what my daughter’s school told me- and you can see what the set-up is like.
Here’s to a great school year + great, healthy lunches!
I’m no olive connoisseur but these Lindsay Naturals– the California Green Ripe olives- are absolutely delicious!!
- 2 cups packed fresh baby arugula I love Organic Girl
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup pine nuts + walnuts I like to do a blend
- 1-1½ cups good quality extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ – 1 cup freshly grated or chunks of Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Kosher salt to taste
- Combine the arugula, basil, garlic, and nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil (I used about a cup) into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly combined. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and pulse until well combined. Season with salt and enjoy!
Phoebe's Pesto Pasta Salad
- ½ lb Rotini pasta
- 2 medium cucumbers; peeled and chopped
- ½ red bell pepper; chopped
- ½ yellow bell pepper; chopped
- ½ orange bell pepper; chopped
- 1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
- 1 stalk celery; chopped
- ½ cup black olives; chopped
- ½ cup green olives; chopped
- 1-2 cups pesto recipe above; mix in amount to your liking + more if desired
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- fresh arugula to plate
- very light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil optional
- Cook pasta according to package instructions and cook to al dente. Rinse and allow to cool slightly.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cooled pasta with all of the chopped veggies. Mix in the pesto until everything is well coated, sprinkle on the pine nuts and mix again gently. Serve on a bed of fresh baby arugula. Hit with a very light dash of extra virgin olive oil if desired. Enjoy!
Disclosure: I was compensated for this post but, as always, all opinions expressed here are 100% my own.