Looking for Lunch Box Ideas

Updated on December 03, 2009
S.C. asks from Lutz, FL
18 answers

Okay - so my baby starts kindergaten in 2 weeks :-(. He isn't a picky eater, with the exception of peanut butter & carrots, so almost anything goes. I do want to pack his lunch so that I can monitor if he is eating though and not just talking at lunch (he's a talker!). Can you give me some ideas of thing to pack in his lunch that are healthy, quick and inexpensive??? Also, what are some things that you find are must haves for the lunch box routine (i.e., soup containers - do they work?). Thanks Moms!

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So What Happened?

I want to thank all the Moms out there that responded to this request! I got some great ideas!!!! If anyone is looking for new ideas on what to pack in their schools lunch box - this is a good place to start! Thanks again for all the good advise. Now I just have to think hard about making sure I get all the food groups in there!

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answers from Miami on

kindergarteners tend to eat lunch VERY early so I would send hot foods and they'd be room temp by the time it was lunch time...my son was in K last year and he ate at 10:30 am!!
I love using a bento box- here's what we have (just giving the link for a photo, not necessarily to buy from them)-you can find them on sale online and also I heard at whole foods, too:

this fits perfectly into a crocodile creek lunchbox:

then for lunch I put a 'main' food, a veggie and a fruit and also an organic srting cheese stick...

main lunch:
peanut butter & jelly sandwhich
hard boiled egg
chicken nuggets
fish sticks
amy's brand frozen 'squares'- bean & cheese or spinach feta
leftovers like noodles w/ some butter and garlic powder

frozen organic: broccoli, green beans, mixed veggies
organic baby carrots
leftover veggies from dinner
oh and when I send a hard boiled egg, I found at publix, in the frozen section, some potato patties/hash brown patties that come in a green box (it's a half-box where you can 'see' the patties) and they don't have any added anything!

fruit: sliced fruit or a single pack organic unsweetened apple sauce

for a drink I sent him w/ a thermos foogoo straw cup and it actually fits in the mesh compartment at the back of the lunch box! again, this is just an example to show you what it looks like:

to label everything I use
stuck on you:

and mabel's lables:

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Also, freeze a water bottle, and send that as cold pack, and then he can drink what has melted. These next weeks before school starts are important, also. "Pack" his lunch at home, see what he can and cannot open himself, time the heating/melting components, put a timer on and let him know that when he's at school, that will be all the time he has to eat. Good Luck!

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answers from Miami on

I try to think of "creative" things to pack as well. My two school aged girls do have their favorite choices (sandwich with nothing more than a slice of cheese, mayo, and mustard) but I like to vamp things up and give them something different every now and then. Yes,the soup containers are a must. I bought mine at Target nearly 4 years ago and they are still going strong. I typically heat their soup (or spaghettios, or some other "warm" item) in the morning around 7 A.M. and their lunch is between 10:30-11 A.M. and both my daughters have said that their lunch is still hot by lunch time. So, yes, they do work well. As for ideas, I'll share what I have done and you can decide for yourself if they sound good.
*Peanut butter and jelly on bread or flour tortilla
*Cream cheese roll-ups (Mix cream cheese and chopped green or black olives and spread on flour tortilla. Roll up tortilla and secure with plastic wrap and chill. When packing the lunch box, remove plastic wrap and slice the tortilla so you have little circles. I also pack a small bowl of mild taco sauce or salsa to dip each circle in. My daughters love these.
*Mix cooked pasta (ditalini or elbow noodles work best), chop up some ham into small cubes, chop cheese into cubes, add a little mayo and other seasonings you think your child would like and serve in a sealed bowl..or soup container. This one is also a hit.
*Deviled eggs
*Flavored tortilla wraps (they come in a variety of "flavors" at my local Publix), slices of ham/turkey and cheese and roll up. You can add a variety of things like avocado, chopped olives, lettuce, tomato...whatever your child likes. Make it interesting and new.
*On days I have lunch with my daughters, I will often surprise them with a lunch that I will bring. Fish sticks and pizza rolls are good.

As for keeping things cold, I use freezer packs and they hold for a few hours. Sometimes I pack two freezer packs, one for the bottom of the lunch box and one for the top. I pack Capri Sun's on Mondays and Fridays and the other days they get soy chocolate milk. Sometimes they get water because I know they are not drinking as much water as they should. For snacks, I prefer fresh fruit but sometimes in a pinch I use the fruit cups (Dole or store brand...doesn't really matter) and I make a homemade snack mix that lasts for WEEKS. I take a package of Gold fish, a box of teddy bear crackers (any flavor), large bag of M &M's, small bag of salted pretzels and mix well. I put about a cup of the mixture in snack size baggies and that way they are ready to go. The mixture will store fairly well in an airtight container, too.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

As a teacher, I have a few suggestions/insights to offer from things I have seen.
First, lunch time is a social time, kids talk - if your son is a talker, he may talk more than eat in the beginning. Once he begins to realize that time goes by quickly and that he is REALLY hungry in the afternoon he will probably eat more and talk less at lunch.
Second, since the above will take a few weeks or so to kick in, you may want to have a snack for him after school that won't interfere with dinner.
Third, pack small amounts until you know what he is eating and how much. See if you can convince him to leave all his lunch trash and stuff in the box until he gets home. That way you can judge for yourself. I know that at the end of lunch, all students are dismissed from the table to throw their trash away. He may throw it all away and you will think he has eaten well when he hasn't eaten hardly at all. Make sense ?
Fourth, it may be hard to judge for a while and I don't mean to sound unsympathetic to your concerns but, most cafeterias have only 1 or 2 aides to watch anywhere from 4 - 8+ classes at a time. They may not be able to keep up with what he is/isn't eating. Also, realistically, most teachers are not in the cafeteria at lunch time. They are usually eating on the run as they try to run to the office, check school mail, make copies, and prepare anything needed for afternoon lessons. Your best bet is to ask your son what he ate for lunch. I have been doing this with my 3 year old after I pick him up from daycare. It has become part of our routine of talking about the day so he isn't hesitant to tell. He says I didn't eat much or I only ate my applesauce. I can also tell by how hungry he is when we get home.
Fifth, remember that our children will eat when they are hungry. If you are really concerned with how much he is eating, then I would make sure he eats a good breakfast at home before school and then a good dinner at night. That way you know he is getting what he needs at least 2 meals a day.
Sixth, I don't know anything about lunch boxes, sorry. As for lunch ideas, I would Google lunch box ideas and see what you get. I have seen different ideas in things like the Publix flyer and Family Style magazine. Ideas that are nutritious and fun. I did see one idea where someone suggested by Gogurts yogurt and freezing them. They will keep food cold and be thawed by lunch time. Just an idea.
Seventh, I know he is your baby so I know you worry as all moms do - I wish you the best of luck as you embark on this new adventure. He will be fine!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pensacola on

I just found this website. http://lunchinabox.net/ I've read nearly every page, because I've decided to try Bento boxes for my two kids when school goes back. Bento appeals to the eco-frugal inside me.

My 2nd grader is very picky, but I think I can pack some things he likes. Last year, my kids ate in the cafeteria nearly every day.

I'm not buying a bento box, but plan to use a Lock and Lock container. I can buy a few to always have a clean one. Not sure about lunch boxes, but I love the Flip top Thermos (thermos brand) I purchased at Walmart. It was a bit expensive, but it is worth it. http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=1100...

Good luck,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Personally, I did not like the soup containers when I was little. My girls did not like them either. Make him sandwiches. Send fruit cut up in a lunch baggie. Also fresh veggies work well. You can get lunch ideas from the internet. Healthy cupcakes, cookies etc. with the fruits and veggies in them. Just Google healthy lunches for kindergarten students. You will be surprised at all the great ideas you will find. But I would avoid the soup. A lunch box with a ice pack works great. The girls had Mickey Mouse ice packs in their lunch box. Worked like a charm.


answers from Los Angeles on

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answers from Ocala on

most school boards have a website and you can go there and see if he is buying his lunch everyday. as far as actually eating it the teachers are in the lunchrooms with these kids normally or a teachers aide and they encourage the kids to eat. if you are worried about it talk to his teacher and tell her to be sure he is eating.she will let you know from there.



answers from Orlando on

My mom used to pack me an apple everyday and it wasn't until probably around 4th grade that she found out I threw it away almost every day! If your child is a talker, it won't matter if you pack his lunch or he eats the school's lunch. He'll get it figured out that he needs to stay quiet and eat or he'll run out of time and be hungry later. I used to pack my kids lunches, but they decided to try the school lunches and I have found that it expanded their pallete because they'd eat food at school that they wouldn't try at home. If you do decide to pack, stay away from Lunchables-- the meat is horribly fatty and unhealthy!



answers from Daytona Beach on

Hi, first when I packed lunch for my son-I packed all this neat stuff with packages that were hard to open and he couldnt open them and there was only one cafeteria worker for all the students so I learned put everything in a zip lock baggy that they can open by themselves. I packed lunch for my son but he kept bringing it home so I started making him eat the school lunch and he actually eats better that way. I used to pack grapes, raisins, juice packs, slim jims-I was always afraid to pack to much meat for fear it would go bad. I did sometimes pack lunchmeat. The little bottles of water are great because they help keep things cold. I always thru in something extra like one hershey kiss etc. Often I put a napkin in it with a note like I love you or just a heart. Anyways Good luck hoefully yours will eat better than mine did. S.



answers from Tampa on

We use the Bento style Laptop Lunchbox and I love it. It allows you to pack a variety of food without a bunch of individual packaging waste.



answers from Miami on

I like ham and cheese sandwiches, grapes, the lunchables are great as well.



answers from Jacksonville on

The only "must have" I can think of is a cold pack of some sort, doesn't matter who by just as long as it stays cold until lunch.

Try to find containers your child can open without spewing the contents all over the room, and leak resistent. I promise that lunch box is going to get turned in every direction and most kids will not eat when a container has leaked all over everything.

Some moms I know send a juice pouch with their kids and freeze it first so the juice pouch is the cold pack. I can't do this as my daughters lunch is too early and the juice pouch isn't defrosted enough to drink. Be aware of how long the food/drink will sit between the time you pack it and the time it will be consumed.

As for food, anything your child eats cool or room temp goes. From our house my daughters faves follow:

Turkey/cheese/mustard sandwich
uncrustables (round PBJ sandwich)
Hot dog slices and cheese cubes with crackers
Chili (in a soup thermos)
Chicken Noodle O's
Fresh fruit (strawberries, watermelon, apples, grapes,etc...)
Mandarin oranges
Zebra Cakes
Cup cakes
fruit snacks
brownie bites

Hope this helps



answers from Orlando on

i make the equivilent of lunchables for my daughter.. pepperoni, string cheese and low salt crackers.. just no sause which is messy any way.. she makes little snadwhiches fof her self and then eats the cheese. i also have sent cubed cheese.. but its what we have in the house. add some fruit and you have calcuim, carbs, and protien in addition to the fruit. you can do turkey pepperoni if you want, round slices of bologna etc. (pls ignore my spelling)
cold pizza is good too. my daughter likes cold mac and cheese too. if i send a sandwich, i send it in pieces (baggies) so it doesnt get all soggy. just get those tiny tupperwares for the mayo/mustard etc. hope it helps.


answers from Fort Walton Beach on

I'm so excited to see the posts because ours is going to kindergarten too!

My friend suggested I freeze natural applesauce or canned fruit into single serving containers (the small four ounce ones) and use those as ice packs.



answers from Boca Raton on

Hummas on Pepperidge Farm thin slice bread cut into pieces. My kids love it. Mac and cheese is always good. You can make it ahead and it heats easily. Check about soup, my son's school will only heat food for 1 minute, so if it doesnt heat up in that time, it wont be hot.Corn on the cob is good. Most kids like it and it can be served cold or room temp. Once a week I give my son a Cottage Double with trail mix and fresh fruit. Its his favorite lunch.



answers from Pensacola on

We usually pay for lunch by the month on the school lunch account system. We have decided to box lunch sometimes as my grandson is a skinny boy who eats like jethro bodine. He would get other things like ice cream, chips etc., inconjunction with a full lunch from school so this is what I will pack:

PB&J sandwich. (no lunch meat and cheese with the exception of turkey (low fat no preservatives,)
Go-gurt, applesauce or lowfat pudding, 100%juice box.
fresh fruit.

Turkey on wheat, (no cheese) sun chips, grapes, fruit roll-up, Milk

Chef boy-ar-dee spaghetti or Ravioli snack cup, Jello cup, bananna, scooby snacks, 100% juice box.

Mac and cheese snack cup, special K bar, 100% juice, apple.

We keep Dannon yogurt, celery, baby carrots, whole wheat bread, special k bars, cereal bars, jello, applesauce, lowfat pudding, lowfat snack crackers, vanilla wafers, shortbread cookies and fig newtons and oatmeal cookies which I give him by serving, and lots of fruit and fresh snack veggies.

We try to curtail too much fat and junk as much as possible. this is probably what it will look like when he takes a lunch. He has asked that we send lunch with him somedays, but lazy me, I would rather pay by the month or 3 months. I think we will do different this year every other week.



answers from Jacksonville on

Make sandwiches (they last long, don't require refrigeration), apples, banana, graham crackers, grapes) To ensure he eats and not talk at lunch, pack his favorite foods. I like Hawaiin rolls, they are sweet, and portable.

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