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.

HHM-Encouragement-Cards-preview1

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?

Granola Bar Cups – a Brilliant Way to Make Granola Bars To-Go!

If all the brilliant people continue to share all their brilliant ideas, we will never run out of great ways to improve our lives in the kitchen and the ways we feed our family.

This time, we’re learning (from wonderful readers like you!) that we can follow my well-loved Chewy Granola Bars recipe, but instead of making them into bars as normal, we can press them into muffin cups. Need to pack them into a lunch box or be able to easily offer a single serving to cut down on the mess?

Try these Granola Bar Cups!

granola cups2

Recipes that work fantastically with this Granola Bar Cup idea are:

These are both no-bake recipes, which makes them very fast to put together.

The beauty of both of these recipes is that you can make them according to your family’s preferences and allergy needs. The Coconut Fudge Bars are much lower in sugar than other recipes, so I stick with that one now. If you need to use gluten free oats, you can. If you need to avoid peanuts, use another nut butter or sunbutter. The recipes are very forgiving, very quick to make, and very fun.

But even more fun is that you can press the mixture into muffin cups for easy transport and lunch box packing!

Granola Cups

Once they have chilled, you can slip one into a baggie and pack it to-go.

Easy Granola Bar Cups

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, those look like high sugar No-Bake Cookies I love,” you’ll be happy to know that they taste a lot like the beloved cookie we’ve all grown up loving. The difference is that we can eat these made with healthier ingredients and way less sugar. How fantastic is this?!

Thanks to all who shared this fun Granola Bar Cup idea!

Free Download - Lunch Box Cards

Want something else fun to pack into a lunch box?

Check out these great ideas and recipes that are great for the lunch box!

My Favorite Cheesecake Factory Salad Makeover

Who loves a Cheesecake Factory BLT Chopped Salad more than cheesecake???? This girl. I’ve only been there a few times, but I found a salad there that I love soooo much. This begs the question: A salad? At cheesecake factory? Why?

See, here’s the thing. When one goes to the Cheesecake Factory, one wants to enjoy the cheesecake right? Therefore, eating a salad as a meal preceding the cheesecake makes perfect sense. One must save room for the cheesecake! That is how I discovered this salad. Or a salad much like this.

I believe the salad I ordered at Cheesecake Factory had chopped apples and some chicken in it too (but it’s been about a year since I’ve been there so I can’t remember all the specifics). Add those to this if you like. All I know is that this salad is so good that our family devoured a huge bowl of it – two days in a row. And I want to make it again tomorrow.

Helpful hint: Want to get your kids to like salad? Add BACON.

BLT Chopped Salad with Feta Cheese

BLT Chopped Salad with Feta CheeseYum

My Favorite Cheesecake Factory Salad Makeover
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 6 cups chopped mixed greens, lettuce, or spinach (any combination you like)
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • ½ pound bacon, cut into bites, cooked, and drained
  • 1-2 cups sweet corn, cooked and cooled
  • 1-2 chopped avocado
  • 4 ounces feta cheese crumbles
  • Dressing:
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of one lime (about 2 Tablespoons)
  • salt and pepper to taste (I put in a few shakes of each)
Instructions
  1. Toss salad ingredients into a large bowl.
  2. In a small jar, shake together dressing ingredients.
  3. Pour over salad and toss.
  4. Serve right away!

This is a perfect spring or summertime meal. I think I could eat this every day. And believe it or not, I don’t even have to have cheesecake afterward. :)

I can’t tell you how delicious and flavorful this is. You MUST try it. Every bite is delicious.

What’s your favorite thing to get at Cheesecake Factory?

Lazy Dogs ~ The Make-Ahead Lunch Box

The Make-Ahead Lunch Box

Find all of our Make-Ahead Lunch Box recipes and ideas here.

You might laugh at this recipe for several reasons. It is a little different from those I typically share.

First of all…hot dogs?

Yes, hot dogs. Remember how I’ve told you that I really love me a good, all beef hot dog? It’s true. I love sweet peppers, apples, strawberries, and asparagus better. But a good quality beef hot dog tastes really yummy to me. What can I say?

Second reason to laugh at this recipe:  This is not exactly the most inexpensive recipe I’ll ever suggest that you make. I didn’t find my hot dogs on sale, and I got the best quality dogs I could find at the store that don’t contain nitrites. So…cha-ching.  I used real cheese, not American cheese slices, which is obviously, more expensive because it’s real.

I did save by making my own whole wheat tortillas. But other than that? I’m not telling you how much each of these Lazy Dogs cost me. I’ll do it better next time by waiting for a sale on hot dogs. (If you have my Oh, For Real cookbook, you’ll find the tortilla recipe there. It’s also in my Totally Tortillas eBook.)

So if these Lazy Dogs are a little more on the pricey side, why am I sharing this recipe with you? Because these Lazy Dogs taste good. Because they are still less expensive than eating out. Because they are a fun, kid friendly (and apparently Laura friendly) food. And because you can make them ahead of time and put them in your lunch box.

I can’t take the credit for this great idea. When I posted my Taco Quesadilla recipe, “Busy Mom in AL” shared this:

Another of our “wraps” are some that we call Lazy Dogs! We boil some hot dogs to plump them up, roll them up with some cheese in a tortilla and heat them up in the oven until the cheese melts! Very good, even cold!

I loved the idea and made them for our soccer games and travel that very weekend. Once I had the tortillas made, the boys got in an assembly line to help put the Lazy Dogs together. Just like that, our to-go meal was ready.

Lazy DogsYum

Tortillas (I use homemade whole wheat tortillas)
Cheese Slices (I use Colby jack slices)
High Qualtity Beef or Turkey Hot Dogs (I found Oscar Meyer Angus Nitrite Free Dogs)

Boil the hot dogs just long enough for them to plump. ( <— what a weird sentence.)  Lay one slice of cheese on each tortilla, top with a hot dog, and roll it up. Bake in a 350° oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese has melted.

Make these ahead of time! Warm them in the oven, then serve.

Lazy Dogs ~ Perfect For Your Lunch Box

We found that we preferred these warm instead of cold. Still, if you want to pack them to-go, simply bake, wrap, and pack. Easy and fun!

Are you a hot dog lover? What is your favorite kind?

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.

Whole Wheat Pizza Swirls ~ The Make-Ahead Lunch Box

The Make-Ahead Lunch Box

I’m excited to kick off our new Make-Ahead Lunch Box series with a fun new recipe I recently tried for my family. We all love these Whole Wheat Pizza Swirls.  Here are my favorite perks to this recipe, and why I think this is perfect for your Make-Ahead Lunch Box:

  • You can make Pizza Swirls ahead of time, wrap them individually, and store them in the freezer until you need them.
  • You can fill the Pizza Swirls with any of your favorite toppings, making this recipe versatile and ideal for accommodating food preferences.
  • These taste great both hot and cold.
  • Pizza Swirls are simple to make.
  • Pizza Swirls are filling and easy to eat.

Whole Wheat Pizza SwirlsYum

1 recipe of Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
1 cup pizza sauce
2 cups shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
3 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
variety of pizza fillings – your choice – like meat, olives, and veggies
2 Tablespoons olive oil (optional)

Mix Whole Wheat Pizza Dough as directed. On a clean, well floured surface, roll dough into a long oval until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Spread pizza sauce over the dough. Sprinkle with cheeses and your favorite pizza toppings. Roll the dough up, beginning on the long side. Tuck the ends under. Place on a cookie sheet. Spread olive oil over the top if you like. Bake in a 375° oven for about 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Slice and serve. Makes about 8-10 Pizza Swirls.

Whole Wheat Pizza Swirls

Bonus Tips:

  • Want to pack these Pizza Swirls to go? Once the swirls have cooled completely, wrap them individually and place them in an air tight container in the freezer. Set frozen wrapped Pizza Swirl in the fridge overnight to thaw to pack in a lunch box the next day.
  • Need to eat Gluten Free? Copy the idea and use your favorite gluten free dough recipe.
  • Tired of pizza? Skip the sauce and use turkey or chicken with cheese to make Meat and Cheese Swirls.

Great to Serve with Pizza Swirls:

  • Fresh fruit like apple slices, orange slices, peaches, cantaloupe, pineapple, or pears
  • Carrot sticks, sliced cucumbers, celery, or sweet peppers
  • Olives or pickles

I double, triple, or quadruple this recipe so that I can make lots at once to make my getting-ahead efforts worthwhile. This also means I can make a variety of different Pizza Swirls to have on hand. Our favorites are:

  • Pepperoni and Cheese
  • Combination (meat, cheese, green peppers, mushrooms, olives)
  • Hamburger and Green Pepper
  • Pepperoni and Olive

What kind of pizza swirls do you think your family will like? Have any other ideas you feel would be good to serve with Pizza Swirls (especially ideas that will pack well in a lunch box)?

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!