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Back To School Lunch Box Ideas

The end of August and first part of September means back to school time for kids. It is an exciting and busy time of year.

After a summer of leisure and fun, it means back to busy times and more of a schedule. For many moms it means busy mornings fixing lunches and getting everyone out the door and to school.

And although I home school my kids, I remember well the busy mornings for my mom packing lunches and getting everyone ready. I grew up always taking my lunch to school. Eating in the school cafeteria was a real treat. We rarely were able to afford school lunches. With four kids and a tight budget, homemade lunches were cheaper. And let’s face it, they tasted better and were much healthier.

I don’t have to pack my kids a lunch everyday for school, but we do often have a busy schedule of piano lessons, doctor’s appointments, and other things that cause us to be away from home during lunch time. Add into that various food allergies and issues, and I can say I have packed my share of lunches to go.

Sandwiches are great for lunch boxes and lunches on the go, but it is always nice to change it up a little and offer something else for lunch.

One of my favorite things to use for lunches are these little containers.

I buy these at Wal-Mart in the food storage or canning section, and they work great for all kinds of things. I actually learned this tip from my mom years ago. I grew up with my mom sending us little containers of food for lunch. She was making homemade fruit cups long before you could buy the pre-packaged ones at the store.

Buying and using little containers like this will save you so much money over time. You can fill them with canned fruit, homemade pudding, or even things like jello. Making homemade versions of these really will save you money and they are not hard to do. I cannot even begin to imagine how much money my mom saved over the years sending us to school with the homemade version of these things.

You can also easily make these little containers of things ahead and keep them in the refrigerator to use throughout the week.

I love using these little containers inside of larger containers. You can place fruit or pudding in the little container and place a sandwich, muffin, or something else next to it.

I also love to use these containers for freezer smoothies. I make up a large batch of smoothies and keep them in the freezer in these little containers. Take them out in the morning and place them in a lunch box. They will be defrosted and ready to enjoy at lunch time.

One of the things my kids love for lunches are homemade lunchables. Now, I know many of you probably love lunchables and buy them often, but have you ever thought about making them at home? You can easily spend a little time cutting up meat and cheese early in the week and your homemade lunchables will go together in no time.

It is really easy to make your own lunchable container with a plastic container and some muffin liners, but I recently bought these Easy Lunch Box containers,

and we love them. They make taking lunch places so easy. I love how you can vary what you place in them. You can do a sandwich, fruit, and dessert. Or you can make homemade lunchables and vary the meat and cheeses you use.

You can serve them with olives and homemade trail mix. We like to make our trail mix with dried fruit and chocolate chips. My mom used to add marshmallows, Cheerios, and nuts to homemade trail mix.

Muffins also make a fun lunchtime treat. You can make banana muffins, chocolate chip muffins, pumpkin muffins, or even my corn dog muffins for a nice change. I almost always have a bag in the freezer full of muffins to use for on the go lunches.

Homemade lunches and food on the go really is not hard, it just takes a little planning. By keeping a few things like muffins, cookies, and smoothies in the freezer, and by doing some of the prep work ahead of time, packing lunches for your kids can be done easily and inexpensively.


Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. I love my easy lunchboxes too!! Thanks for the ideas!

  2. Hi Lynn! What a great post. Thanks so much for suggesting/showing my EasyLunchboxes for the homemade Lunchables! LOVE the tip about make ahead/packable smoothies!!! My girls love smoothies and they would be ecstatic to have one with lunch. Definitely doing this one. Thanks! – Kelly Lester, mom and CEO,

  3. I love these ideas! I was just wondering how I could get creative with packing y son’s lunch. He doesn’t like sandwiches, but must have his protein. I am definately going to use the 1,000 or so cupcake liners I have at home and put these ideas to good lunch-making use! Thanks!

  4. Oh, I LOVE the homemade Lunchables! So easy and so clever. Thanks for the great suggestion!

  5. Good ideas! In my kids’ school they cook lunch for the kids, but I always send a box of treats that they can have after lunch or during the day whenever they feel for a bite. Good idea about having a big bag of ready made muffins in the freezer! Thanks!

  6. How funny. Your two small containers on the left and the compartmentalized container are exactly what I have too. I do exactly what you do, with the exception of cupcake liners. Instead, I use saran wrap to wrap the meat for homemade lunchables in the large compartment and everything else just get’s mixed up in that compartment. I like them to have hot/warm lunches as well, so I bought insulated lunch containers for “one dish meal” dinner leftovers like spaghetti with meatballs/zucchini, fried rice, or whatever. I just take it out of the fridge, microwave it, cap it, and it’s still warm at lunchtime.

  7. I love your focus on containers here. I have the Ball freezer containers, but they are larger (quart and I think 2 c. sizes). Yours looks smaller than that. I’m going to look for smaller ones for smoothies. I like the lunchables idea too.

  8. I use the same divided containers for my daughters lunches too 🙂 She’s pretty happy with sandwiches but I try to vary them by using different meats, cheeses, veggies and bread. I use tortillas for wraps and even small rolls to make 2-3 smaller sandwiches. She qualifies for free lunch @ school and it’s nice to know I can fall back on that in a pinch, but neither of us are a big fan of school lunches! She claims it’s not enough food and I just think it’s unhealthy!

  9. What kind of meat do you use for the lunchables? I love the cupcake liner idea.

    • @Jill, I use whatever I have. 🙂 We prefer a thicker cut lunch meat. It seems to work best. My kids prefer turkey or ham and those are usually easy to find in thicker cuts. Really though any type of lunch meat would work. I hope that helps.

  10. Hi Lynn…love your site and have leftover taco meat and am going to try your baked casserole….a tip I’d like to say is instead of labels I use for freezer–lunches etc the crayola washable markers that I use for sewing and can write as little or a lot….and they come in colors so if ya needed to separate who’s who:)

  11. Lynn, thanks so much for the lunch ideas. I’ve been packing my kiddos lunches for a couple of years now, but this will be the first year that I try EasyLunchboxes. Do you normally use the cooler bag that goes with it? I’m wondering how you transport these without all of the food getting all jumbled in the containers…? Thanks!

    • I like to put those containers in those cooler type lunch bags or lunch box and then put an ice pack in that. If there is nothing that needs chilled in them, you can just send the container, but usually we have cheese or meat in ours so a lunch bag or something is necessary. I hope that helps.

  12. My kid hates blue berries bananas, watermelon, peaches, grapes, all vegetables except carrots, all lunch meats, and muffins. the list goes on and on! I have always set an example by snacking on fresh fruits and veggies and eat a lot of salad. my son is 5, and I just don’t know what to pack him for lunch, help!


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