Take the struggle out of packing lunch boxes with these easy and healthy lunch box ideas. Includes a simple formula to make packing lunches a breeze!
Raise of hands if you love packing lunch boxes…(I have a feeling that very few of you raised your hands 😉). The trick is to keep it simple! Use the easy formula and list of lunch box ideas below to quickly make easy and healthy lunches.
By all means, if you find joy in creating elaborate themed lunch art, then go for it! I will admit that I did this when my first child started school…for about two days. I think I was just excited and inspired until reality quickly hit. This girl does not want to spend all her time making school lunches! So now I follow an easy formula when packing lunch boxes for my kids. This formula can also be applied to packed adult lunches as well.
Lunch Box Packing Formula
Keep it simple with this formula:
MAIN + FRUIT + VEGETABLE + SNACK / TREAT
Simply select 1 or 2 items from each section! Bento lunch boxes make applying this formula a breeze. I just fill each of the compartments in the container with one of the formula components and I am done. Alternatively, I fill a thermos with a hot “main” and then place the remaining components in separate containers. You can check out a list of my favourite lunch containers HERE.
List Of Lunch Box Ideas
So now you have the formula but you might still be wondering what exactly to put in the lunch box. Here is a list of some ideas for each section of the “Lunch Box Packing Formula”.
- Hearty salads (pasta salad, taco salad, Cobb salad, Nicoise salad, Caesar salad with chicken, etc)
- Crackers, meat + cheese
- Sandwich / wrap
- Roasted chicken drumsticks
- Fish cakes
- Pita + hummus
- Hard boiled eggs
- Naan bread pizza
- Hot food option (soup, stew, pasta, chili, curry, fried rice, etc)
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
- Orange / Mandarin
- Melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew)
- Stone Fruits (cherries, peach, nectarine, plum, mango, apricot)
- Carrot sticks
- Celery sticks
- Bell pepper
- Snap Peas
- Grape/Cherry Tomatoes
- Broccoli or cauliflower florets
- Kale chips
- Side salad
- Fermented veggies
- Roasted veggies
Snack / Treat Ideas
- Granola bars
- Mini muffins
- Roasted chickpeas
- Dried fruit / fruit leather
- Mini pancakes
- Tortilla chips
- Sunflower / pumpkin seeds
- Energy balls
- Trail mix
If you are part of the Maple + Mango community (i.e. joined the list to receive new posts), then you will be receiving a handy PDF “Lunch Box Packing Guide” with the packing formula and lunch ideas all on one printable sheet. Otherwise, sign up below and you will also receive this PDF guide in your inbox.
When To Pack Lunches
Pick a time that works best for you! Some people prefer to pack lunch boxes in the morning and some in the evening. Personally, I pack lunches while preparing dinner. I haven’t cleaned up the kitchen yet and I usually have little pockets of time while things are cooking. Then I just place the lunches in the fridge and it makes mornings a lot smoother.
What Lunch Box Containers To Use
Having some great lunch containers and gear makes packing lunches much easier. Check out my list of must-have lunch gear that is reusable, functional and fun!
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