Master List of Simple Lunch Box Ideas

Here it is! The Master List of Simple Lunch Box Ideas!

I know many of you send lunches with your kids for school and/or pack lunches for yourself or your spouse for work. Here’s hoping this list offers you some fun variety and nourishment that goes far beyond a sandwich! :)

todays lunch

Hopefully you already grabbed the Master Lists of Simple Lunch, Breakfast, and Snack Ideas. I’m covering my fridge with these lists to make our transition from summer break to a school schedule a little bit easier. If you haven’t already, be sure to download all these handy lists here!

Now for today’s list:

The Master List of Simple Lunch Box Ideas

Simple Lunch Box Ideas

Your Real Food Master Simple Lunch Box Ideas List

You can download this entire list here. But I’ll share it all on this post for reference also. I also recommend that you pin it so you can find it quickly as needed!

strawberry

 

Meaty Recipes for your Lunchbox

If at home, we eat many of these hot. But in a packed lunch, we don’t mind eating them cold!

Food You Can Heat and Pack in a Thermos

LgTHermos

NOTE: Here’s a fantastic thermos option that comes in all kinds of fun varieties and patterns. It’s stainless steel inside and out. It keeps cold food cold for 7 hours and hot food hot for 5 hours! Check out your options here. 

Hearty Dips for Chips

wide mouth jars

Pack these dips in small wide-mouth jars with a bag of tortilla chips to go with them!

Hearty Salads

SaladCOntainer

Fun Ideas to Add to Your Lunchbox

granola cups2

Now let’s look at good fruit and veggie add-ons.  I listed apples and carrots first, because those are a given.  But wait till you see all the other fun options to give your lunch box some life!

COntainers

  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Clementines
  • Oranges
  • Applesauce
  • Peach Cups (100% juice)
  • Grapes
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Side Salad
  • Blueberries
  • Sliced Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Pears

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Psssst! I LOVE silicone cups like this to make Fat Bombs  and Muffins. But how about also using them in lunchboxes to separate food items from one another! This 28-pack is deeply discounted right now!

SiliconCups28

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Master List of Simple Lunch Box Ideas

Free Printable Lunchbox Cards for you

Find FREE printable Lunch Box Cards HERE and HERE.

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Awesome Lunchboxes and Containers

Here are some really cool lunchbox options, as well as containers that work great to send food to work and school!

This Rubbermaid Salad Container comes with a blue ice freezer pack that snaps directly onto the food containers to keep your lunch cold. They are BPA free and very versitile!

SaladCOntainer

Here’s another one that can be used for all kinds of foods!

COntainers

If you prefer Stainless Steel, this one is a little pricier but super durable.

MetalContainer

As for lunchboxes, this one is Double Decker so you can keep cold food cold and hot food hot! (P.S. I love this pink one!)

DOubleDeckerLunchbox

This simple insulated lunch bag has all kinds of fun print patterns for kids to pick from. The price is great too!

Pattern lunchbox

Or let your kids choose from these fun varieties of insulated zip up bags!

IceCreamLunchbox

PlanesLunchbox

Would you like to make this Master List of Simple Lunchbox Ideas even simpler?

Sign up here* to receive the entire Master List of Simple Lunchbox Ideas in a free downloadable document! Then you can keep it handy on your computer or print it and put it on your fridge as a super handy reference! You’ll also receive our free Master Lunch, Breakfast, and Snack lists!

*If you’re already on our email list, go ahead and sign up with your email list anyway. This makes it easier for me to get the list to you and you won’t receive double email. You’ll be automatically redirected to a page with the free lists to download!

What are your favorite foods to add to a lunchbox?

Simple Spinach Tuna Melts – Don’t Knock it Until You’ve Tried It

Now that we’ve realized how easy it is to add spinach to our meals, I think we’re working it onto our table at least once each day.  The day these Spinach Tuna Melts were invented, Matt was the guy in charge of figuring out lunch.

We almost always have several cans of tuna on hand, our freezer held plenty of cheese, and I think it goes without saying that we had spinach in the fridge.  Here’s what Matt came up with:

Simple Spinach Tuna Melts

These were awesome.  I lost track of how many he had to make, as these are one or two bite tuna melts – and I’m not sure if you’ve seen our boys eat lately, but let’s just say they eat a lot of bites at each meal.  We went through a lot of spinach, and not one boy complained that there was no bread involved in this meal.

This meal is perfect for days you’re limited on time to cook, days you don’t have meat thawed, and days you want extra nourishment in the form of spinach.  (Every day is the day you want extra nourishment in the form of spinach. Join the spinach-eating bandwagon.)

How to Make Spinach Tuna MeltsYum

Open and drain a can of tuna.  Use a fork to separate the tuna pieces, then place about a tablespoon on each leaf of spinach.  Top with about a teaspoon of shredded cheddar cheese.  Place prepared spinach/tuna/cheese on a baking sheet and broil in the oven for 1-2 minutes until the cheese is melted.

One 5-ounce can of tuna makes 6-8 Spinach Tuna Melts.  If feeding teenage boys, open many cans of tuna and be prepared to make many pans of tuna melts.

So there you go!  A super easy meal you can make that packs a big nutritional punch.

How are you doing on eating spinach?  Have you found fun ways to work it into your meals?

Barbecue Beef and Cheese Hot Pockets ~ The Make-Ahead Lunch Box

Hot pockets can actually be eaten cold. Who knew?

The Make-Ahead Lunch Box

When I asked you what you needed in a packed lunch, this is what you told me:

  • Quick and easy
  • Can be eaten cold
  • Hearty and filling

These Barbecue Beef and Cheese Hot Pockets are all that plus they are delicious. You can make them big or small, accommodating big or small appetites. They taste great hot or cold. You can make them ahead of time and pull them out as needed. They freeze well. What more do you need? Just the recipe I guess…

Barbecue Beef and Cheese Hot PocketsYum

Barbecue Beef and Cheese Hot Pockets ~ The Make-Ahead Lunch Box
 
Author:
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat
  • 1 batch homemade barbecue sauce (more if you like)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 batch whole wheat pizza dough
Instructions
  1. Place stew meat and barbecue sauce in a skillet.
  2. Cook on low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until meat is cooked and tender.
  3. In the meantime, mix the whole wheat pizza dough and set it aside to rise.
  4. Once both meat and dough are ready, remove meat from the heat.
  5. Stir in cheese until it is melted.
  6. Divide dough into about 16 pieces.
  7. Roll each piece of dough into a thin circle.
  8. Spoon meat mixture into the center of the circle, then gather up the edges of the dough and pinch to seal.
  9. Place pinched side down on a baking sheet.
  10. Once all dough is filled with meat, allow the pockets to rise about 15 minutes more.
  11. Bake in a 375° oven for 15-25 minutes or until pockets are golden brown.

Barbecue Beef and Cheese Hot Pockets

This would be a great way to use up leftover roast beef. In addition, you can fill hot pockets with any variety of meats and cheeses. They are a great, versatile meal idea!

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If you’re hitting the restart button with us this fall, I challenge you to find one recipe (maybe this Barbecue Beef and Cheese Hot Pocket recipe?) that you can make ahead of time and freeze. Having food prepared like this in the freezer is a life saver on busy days when you need a healthy meal quickly. You’ll find all of our Make-Ahead Meal recipes here.

Once you’ve completed the challenge, come back to this post and leave a comment letting us know what you made. Can’t wait to hear!

Bacon, Egg, and Avocado Salad ~ Make-Ahead Lunch Box

How do we get our family to eat a lot of greens? Put bacon, eggs, and avocado in the bowl with the lettuce.

The Make-Ahead Lunch Box

Rarely is my family of men pleased to see a lovely bowl of salad as the main dish at lunchtime. You can almost see the “am I gonna get full?!” look of panic in their eyes. After all, typically a tossed salad lunch just doesn’t stick with a person very long into the afternoon.  But if there’s bacon in it? And boiled eggs? And avocado? And cheese? Well, now we’re on to something.

My family devoured this last week when I made it – even the boys who don’t typically love eating avocados. With all the other flavors mixed in, this salad with all its goodness works for even my pickiest eaters. Along with the salad, I served fresh pineapple, fresh cantaloupe, and a new recipe I was experimenting with: Coconut Fudge Bars.  We were all very full after our meal – and stayed full until after we got back from swimming that evening at 5:15.  At that point we were all ready to eat our own beach towels – but that’s typical no matter what we’ve eaten for lunch.

This recipe is hardly a recipe. Simply throw together whatever amounts of each ingredient you feel is best for each family member. We all ate great big bowls full, because that’s what we do around here. Need to this be Gluten Free? It’s GF without having to try. Need it to be Dairy Free? Leave out the cheese.  You might have been able to figure that one out by yourself.  ;)

Bacon, Egg, and Avocado Salad

Bacon, Egg, and Avocado SaladYum

Bacon, Egg, and Avocado Salad ~ Make-Ahead Lunch Box
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • Bacon, cut into bites, cooked, and drained
  • Boiled eggs
  • Avocado, cut into bites (as well as you can cut an avocado into bites)
  • Cheddar or Colby jack cheese, cut into small chunks
  • Mixed greens, lettuce, and spinach of choice
  • Tomatoes, chopped
  • Salad dressing of choice
Instructions
  1. Toss ingredients together and have a feast.

To prepare for the lunch box:

Prepare all ingredients in advance, from cooking the bacon to boiling the eggs to chunking the cheese. Toss the fixin’s into a jar or bowl with a lid before heading out for the day. Put the dressing into a separate container to add just before eating.

These ingredients, prepared in advance, will last a week or two in the fridge for quick salad prep. If you chop your avocado ahead of time, simply place the avocado pit into the container to help maintain the nice green color.

Side dish ideas:

You really have to try this salad. Really – even people who don’t normally love salad should love this one. It has bacon in it, for crying out loud. It’s happiness in a bowl.

Hey, have any of you tried the “Salad in a Jar” idea? I am excited to try that sometime, both because it’s a great packaging idea…and of course, because it involves a jar. It’s happiness in a jar. With bacon (for crying out loud).

Find more Make-Ahead Lunch Box recipes and be sure to follow along in this series for more fun ideas!

Re-Usable Containers For Your Make-Ahead Lunch Box

Let’s talk about food containers to go along with our Make-Ahead Lunch Box series.

I love all the eco-friendly packaging available now. Occasionally, we still use a disposable ziplock baggie or two. But if at all possible, packaging “to-go” foods in containers we can wash and reuse just makes so much more sense – and saves so much money!

You all know I have and love this Pyrex Storage 10-Piece Set. The lids in this set seal very well. The variety of sizes offer great options for packing side dishes of cut fruits and veggies, or main dishes like pasta salads and wraps.

pyrex

As I was looking at other great options to share with you, I came across a good price on this 10-Piece Set of Round Glass Storage Bowls. Oh yeah, I filled them up in my head within about 2 seconds of looking at them. Fruit salad, potato salad, soup, pasta salad, tossed salad, pasta leftovers…

glass storage

If you’re more into BPA free plastic for packing lunches, I like these Fit & Fresh 1-cup containers at iHerb. I love that they have a built-in ice pack to keep food cold. Even better, iHerb will give you a free $10 (with $40 purchase) if you purchase through my referral links. So click here if you want to get these containers for FREE, along with some other goodies! (You can also use the code BID487 at check-out to receive $10 off your $40 purchase. Shipping at iHerb is free with orders over $20.

fit fresh

I really like these Lunchskins re-usable sandwich and snack bags. BUT, I don’t recommend you pay these Amazon prices. Surely you can find them cheaper at an actual store? What has been your experience purchasing these types of bags? Is there a store you can suggest? My small town doesn’t offer items like this that I know of.

lunchskins

How about for packing hot food? I’ve heard from several of you that thermoses just don’t hold enough food. I found this 16-ounce stainless steel thermos that seems to be a good option. At least it would hold more than a 10-ounce thermos, right?

thermos

What do you use for packing food to go?

This post contains affiliate links.

Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad ~ The Make-Ahead Lunch Box

The Make-Ahead Lunch Box

Sick of sandwiches? Need fresh, healthy lunch ideas? Whether or not you pack lunches or eat lunches at home, I believe we can all use some new, easy, and quick lunch ideas. Recipes that can be made ahead of time and pulled out for immediate use? Even better.  Follow along with this Make-Ahead Lunch Box series – and share your ideas too!

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What’s fun about this recipe for Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad is that you can add veggies to your liking. Don’t like sweet peppers? Add extra cucumbers. Don’t like cucumbers? Add extra carrots. Don’t like carrots? Oh, come on Surely we can come up with some vegetables you like. :)

Feel free to switch out the ham for chicken, take out the cheese if you need to go dairy free, and stick with brown rice pasta if you need to eat gluten free. See how accommodating this meal is?

Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad

24 ounces whole wheat or brown rice pasta
1 pound ham, cut into chunks
8 ounces cheddar or Colby jack cheese, cut into chunks
16 ounces frozen peas (uncooked)
4 cups chopped veggies of your choice (green, red, yellow, and orange peppers; onion, tomato, cucumbers, carrots)
sea salt to taste
4 Tablespoons Italian Salad Dressing
1 1/2 cup Ranch Salad Dressing

Cook pasta until just tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. In a large bowl, stir together cooked pasta, ham, cheese, peas, and chopped veggies. Toss with Italian Salad Dressing and salt. Stir in Ranch Salad Dressing until coated. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Makes 8-10 main dish servings. (<— That is a great, big bowl full.)

Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad Lunch

To prepare for the lunch box:

Scoop salad into containers with lids. (I like using Pyrex bowls with lids like these or like these.)  Store individual containers in the refrigerator until packing for a lunch. Be sure to pack an ice pack in the lunch box to keep the salad cold!

Side dish ideas:

  • Fresh fruit like cantaloupe, grapes, and strawberries
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Olives
  • Pickles
  • Homemade Chewy Granola Bars
  • Raspberry Lemon Cream Cups – recipe coming soon!

I love that this pasta salad is a full meal all by itself – with whole grain pasta, meat, cheese, and lots of veggies! I love even more that it can be put together ahead of time and pulled out as needed.

What are your favorite veggies to add to pasta salad?

How To Create Easy, Healthy, Fun Lunches: The Make-Ahead Lunch Box Series

Ahhhhh, lunch. Whether you pack a lunch for yourself or your husband to take to work, send your kids to school with a lunch box, or eat lunch at home everyday – I believe every one of us can benefit from learning new make-ahead lunch ideas.

Since I’m not a fan of the sugar crashes, brain fog, or grumpiness that come after eating or feeding my kids empty carbs and processed foods, nor do I have time to cook complicated meals in the middle of a busy work/school day – I thought putting together a series of posts which include healthy make-ahead lunch ideas would be fun. Are you with me? Do you want some fresh new lunch box ideas? Do you have some ideas of your own to share?

Introducing:  The Make-Ahead Lunch Box – a new series here at Heavenly Homemakers.

The Make-Ahead Lunch Box

Sandwiches are great, and in fact, I’m hoping to put together a fun post full of great sandwich ideas within this series. (Have any to share? Leave a comment to let me know!)  But packed lunches, make-ahead lunches, and quick pull-out-of-the-fridge lunches can go way beyond sandwiches.

Healthy food that can be prepared ahead of time, then slipped into a lunch box or onto the table with minimal effort? Oh yes, bring it on.

From allergy friendly, to picky kids, to figuring out how to include plenty of fruits of vegetables – I think we’re all going to have a lot of fun together as we learn new recipes, tips, and ideas. So let’s get started right away!

Leave a comment on this post sharing your biggest lunch challenges, your best healthy lunch tips, and favorite lunch-time foods. Can’t wait to hear!

Baked Potatoes in the Crock Pot – a perfect, ready made lunch

The making baked potatoes in the crock pot idea is rocking my world almost as much as the freezing muffin batter idea. I love it when delicious, simple, and healthy all come together in the same sentence (and on our plates).

Now that we’ve started school, I really need easy lunches that don’t take long to prepare. (Which is funny to say, because it’s not like on non-school days I look for meals that are difficult and time consuming. Easy, real food cooking is the way I roll.)  The food I’ve made and put into my freezer has helped a ton. I also decided to try throwing potatoes into the crock pot on “hi” instead of “low” one day so they’d be done by lunchtime. It worked perfectly.

Then, I rewarmed some leftover roast and gravy, thinking that would taste great on the potatoes. (It did.)  We have garden fresh green beans, plus we’ve been picking loads of tomatoes and peppers. This lunch went together so easily, was very filling, and super nourishing!

baked_potato_meal

It was also so pretty that I had to take a picture.

The point of this story: Crock pot baked potatoes are going to be a regular lunch around here. And the other point of this story (or rather, a reminder and encouragement):  It is very easy to add fruits and vegetables to a meal to add lots of extra nutrients. We are blessed to have access to such variety. Don’t hold back on fruits and veggies!

What are some of your favorite, quick, healthy lunches?

Healthy, Inexpensive Lunches – What Are Your Favorites?

Making 36 sandwiches yesterday got me to thinking about lunch ideas…

In the past, I’ve shared with you that our family does not eat many sandwiches, unless we’re on the road. Why? Because my family of six knows how to put away a large amount of food three times a day. By the time I purchase a decent quality lunch meat, whole wheat bread, and mayo I feel good about feeding our family, I can spend between $15 and $20 just on sandwiches for one meal. I could spend less if I bought cheaper lunch meat, but I don’t wanna and you can’t make me. ;)  Thinking about how lunch meat is processed, and knowing what is added to the meat makes my face curl up in unattractive ways. It is best if I don’t go there.

Instead of sandwiches, our family enjoys much less expensive, much healthier meals during lunchtime each day.  In an effort to share my ideas and get new ideas from all of you too, I thought it might be fun for us to talk about our favorite healthy (and quick) lunches.

Look through my archive of menu plans to read through lunches we fix regularly. As long as I have a plan, I can typically get lunch on the table very quickly. Don’t assume that sandwiches are faster to make than other lunches. Be creative and have fun. And take advantage of these Make Ahead Meal ideas which make warming up a pre-prepared healthy lunch a snap.

In case you don’t have this yet, we’d love for you to download our FREE Healthy Lunch List. Just click, print, and place this list on your fridge (or another handy location) to give you lots of fun lunch time inspiration!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few of our family’s favorite healthy and inexpensive lunches:

Taco Corn Fritters with fruit

Easy Noodle Stir Fry

Tuna Casserole with a veggie

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Corndog Muffins with raw carrots and fruit

Healthier Chip Dip with organic corn chips and fruit

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Sloppy Cornbread Muffins with fruit or veggies

What are your favorite, healthy lunches? Load up the comments section with ideas for us to draw from!