Ideas and recipes for packing school lunchboxes for kids
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Lifesaving Lunchbox Ideas for Real Life

overhead view of lunchbox packed with food

Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest you carve carrots into flowers, or spend hours making rainbow sushi rolls. I’m here with lifesaving lunchbox ideas for real life… Specifically, the shadowy 6-8 a.m. weekday hours, before the coffee has kicked in and you’re making important decisions like, “Do 7 Ritz crackers count as breakfast for a 2 year old?” And, “Can I rely on dry shampoo for one more day, or will I look like Cheryl Strayed wandering off the Appalachian Trail directly into the drop off line at Kindergarten?”

I repeat, these are tips for lifesaving lunchbox ideas for REAL LIFE.

woman and children putting away olive oil and pasta sauce

1. Put away leftovers like you mean it. 

I know, by the time everyone is fed at the end of a long day you are ready to be DONE, but if you can motivate yourself to shred any leftover chicken, chop up that half a steak, and put the pasta right into that cute lunch container, you’ll be thanking yourself in the morning. Yes, we still eat a lot of turkey sandwiches in this house, but dinner sometimes makes the best (and most low-maintenance) lunch.

Pro tip: Focus on feeling smug about limiting food waste and saving money by making dinner pull double duty.

takenaka bento box with colorful wrap sandwiches

2. Give in and buy a solid bento box

It’s kind of like rationalizing $100 stretchy pants because they’ll encourage you to work out more…but way less expensive, and way more effective. Or is it just me who leans hard into the Leisure part of Ath-Leisure?

Anyway, having a smart-looking, functional DISHWASHER-SAFE little lunch box just might motivate you to actually pack up a healthy lunch for your kids (and maybe you too!).

I swear, having your leftovers, and cut up fruit, and string cheese tucked neatly into compartments, can actually cause your kids to eat more than the bagged crunchy snacks. If nothing else, you can know that you offered them a healthy choice, and check that little box in your head.

Need some inspo? Bon Appetit’s Elyse Inamine loves the Takenaka Bento Box

stacie billis and meghan splawn from didn't i just feed you podcast shopping at a grocery store

3. Tune in to Didn’t I Just Feed You.

Family-feeding gurus Stacy Billis and Meghan Splawn host a great podcast for feeding families, and have a whole page on their site devoted to lunchbox grocery shopping, recipes, and hacks. Check it out here.

Last but not least, scroll down to find some favorite lifesaving lunchbox ideas from the recipe section of Not Just a Food Blog.

Hope this little list of lifesaving lunchbox ideas serves you well this week! Gotta run and sprinkle some cornstarch in my bangs before school pickup.. Just realized I ran out of dry shampoo.

3 Not Just Lunchbox-Ready Recipes

This make ahead sheet pan meal is just as tasty at room temp.

These gluten-free not-too-sweet treats are perfect for on-the-go breakfast or mid-morning snack. 

Make a double batch and tuck these guys into the lunchbox with some pita bread, cut up veggies, and extra lemon miso dressing for dipping.