Our Favorite Lunchboxes

When I was a kid, my mom sent us off to school with lunch packed in brown bags. Between the weight of the apple and the constant shuffling of stuff against the bag in my backpack, sandwiches never stood a chance. It was a good day when the cookie wasn't crumbled. The earth shifted on the day that my mom decided to pack tortellini for me in a plastic container. 

PlanetBox

PlanetBox

Today's kids are so much luckier. There's no shortage of amazing lunchbox options out there and thankfully, they don't necessarily involve smushed sandwiches or bruised fruit.

Planetbox shuttle
Yumbox

Yumbox

We have five lunchboxes that we have been happily relying on for the last few years (PlanetBox, Yumbox, LunchbotsKlip It Lunch Cube, and The Fit & Fresh Kids' Bento Lunch Kit

Klip It Lunch Cube

Klip It Lunch Cube

Each option has pros. I love that the PlanetBox is stainless steel with perfectly sized compartments and a small area for a treat. We have the carrying bag that has a perfect space for a bus snack and a water bottle. The PlanetBox isn't cheap, but we've been using ours for over 3 years without any issues so I view it as a wise investment. There are also stainless steel containers that fit inside so you can pack liquids or things like yogurt and not worry about leakage. We have the Shuttle and the Rover, and both fit a great amount of food for lunch. My tween prefers the smaller PlanetBox, and my younger kids love the big one. 

We have two versions of the Yumbox – one with three compartments and one with five. Both are easy to open, a great size and leakproof so I can pack things like hummus without concern that it'll be all over the apple slices. I wish it were easier to clean the skinny grooves on the underside of the tray, but that could be my dishwasher's fault. 

 

The Klip-It Lunch Cube has a neat design that's easy for kids to open, conveniently fits in a variety of bags and is also well priced. It's perfect for kids who love sandwiches but it isn't leakproof. 

Lunchbots

The Lunchbots container is great because it's compact and fits into a variety of lunchbags. It's also super easy to clean and fits a surprisingly large amount of food. I wish that it were leakproof and I wish that the top had a sturdy clasp to stay put, but we have had no problem keeping it closed with a rubber band, and my tween is a big fan of this box. 

Fit & Fresh

Fit & Fresh

Finally, there's the Kids' Bento Lunch Kit from Fit & Fresh. While it was difficult for my youngest to open the containers, it's been great for my older two. It has built in ice packs and fits a *ton* of food, which is great for those days when one of my kids plans a giant lunch.

Lunch quantity sometimes is a difficult thing... there are days that my kids are super hungry and days that they seem to exist on fumes.  It's comforting to know that some of these boxes have room to accommodate an extra large lunch, for those days when the lunches that my kids pick in advance are on the large side. 

While there's never a shortage of information out there about what to pack, it's also fun to think about where to pack lunch. For lunch packing ideas and inspiration, be sure to check out our Instagram where we post daily pics. 

Pizza Pockets

Pizza Pockets

Pizza. I said it and you got hungry, right? My two older kids love it, but if we eat pizza, it's always made at home. My youngest is dairy free and ordering a cheeseless slice is too hard sometimes. Pizza Pockets are a new fun way for us to eat pizza as a family and they're a great opportunity for us to customize our toppings, or fillings, as it were. The end result is a dish full of pull-apart pizza magic! It's hands-on fun for the family, and if you're a fan of the DIY meals like we are, you'll want to add this to your list.

Here's what you'll need: 
Pizza dough (I used multigrain that I bought at the supermarket)
Tomato sauce
Cheese
Fillings (we used sausage, kale and red peppers)

Here's what to do:
1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a baking dish with parchment paper and brush with olive oil. Roll our your pizza dough on a floured surface until it's about 1/2 inch thick. Using a circle shaped cookie cutter, cut the dough into circles and set aside. 

dough circles

2. Add a spoon of sauce to the center of each dough circle. 

dough + sauce

3. Add your fillings. I sautéed sweet Italian sausage with kale, red onion and red bell peppers in advance but anything goes here! 

Pizza Pocket with topping

4. Add cheese. Looks like a mini pizza! 

Pizza Pocket with cheese

5. Fold up the sides into a ball, give it a little twist and place it with the seam down into your baking dish. I've marked the dairy free ones with an oregano leaf on top. Brush the tops with olive oil. 

Pizza Pockets ready to be baked

6. Bake at 425 for approximately 30-35 minutes. Here's what it looks like when done: 

Pizza Pockets fresh out of the oven

And the inside? Yummazing. These are easy to pull apart, delicious to eat and also great for lunchbox leftovers the next day! 

Pizza pocket deliciousness

Camp Lunch Inspiration

Summer is in full swing here and we've been busily shuffling kids here and there. Summer is our busiest time because we're getting ready for the Back to School season and we've got amazing things in store for LaLa Lunchbox users this year. Stay tuned! 

In the meantime, I'm still packing lunches daily. If you missed our post about making summer lunches easier, have no fear, here you go. The kids are still picking their foods with the LaLa Lunchbox app, making my busy life easier, and we're incorporating loads of delicious summer produce. We post daily pics on Instagram, so go ahead and check that out for some fresh ideas every day. If you're here looking for a little inspiration, take a peek below at some of the recent camp lunches: 

banana sunflower seed roll ups, carrots, apple, figs and cookies.

banana sunflower seed roll ups, carrots, apple, figs and cookies.

DIY yogurt parfait: yogurt, berries and cereal, plus grapes, nectarine, snap peas and a sweet chocolate treat. 

DIY yogurt parfait: yogurt, berries and cereal, plus grapes, nectarine, snap peas and a sweet chocolate treat. 

Cheese blintzes, nectarine and plum, strawberries, broccoli and a sweet chocolate treat. Does your kiddo have a summer birthday? We absolutely love the cards from Lunchbox Love - and not just for birthdays! They're regular accompaniments to lunches all year round here. 

Cheese blintzes, nectarine and plum, strawberries, broccoli and a sweet chocolate treat. Does your kiddo have a summer birthday? We absolutely love the cards from Lunchbox Love - and not just for birthdays! They're regular accompaniments to lunches all year round here. 

pancake sandwiches with sunflower seed butter, watermelon, cherries and carrot fries. 

pancake sandwiches with sunflower seed butter, watermelon, cherries and carrot fries. 

prosciutto toast sandwiches, cherries, broccoli, avocado and snap peas. 

prosciutto toast sandwiches, cherries, broccoli, avocado and snap peas. 

nectarine and blueberries with chocolate hummus and dried apple snacks for dipping, plus ham and snap peas. 

nectarine and blueberries with chocolate hummus and dried apple snacks for dipping, plus ham and snap peas. 

leftover chicken cutlet, guacamole, broccoli, carrot ribbons, grapes and cantaloupe. 

leftover chicken cutlet, guacamole, broccoli, carrot ribbons, grapes and cantaloupe. 

Tips for Easy Summer Lunches

The weather is getting warmer, the sun is shining for longer, and people everywhere are outside with smiles on their faces. I love you, June! Whether your kiddos are headed to camp this summer or they'll be enjoying unstructured days, they'll still need to eat lunch. Every day. Look, I realize it can be stressful to continue to pack lunches in the summer after school has ended. I'm right in the trenches with you. Below are some tips to make that task slightly easier so you can kick back with that glass of wine and listen to the crickets. 

1. Produce is your best friend. 
My kids tend to choose more produce-heavy lunches in the summer, probably because summer produce is so ridiculously delicious (I'm looking at you, nectarines, plums, watermelon, melon, strawberries, cukes and green beans!). Lunches that showcase the colorful bounty of the summer are a treat for the eyes, the mouth and the stomach. So don't sweat it if you don't want to pack some elaborate lunch. Let the fruits and veggies do the heavy lifting for you. Plus, have you read this post about how many fruits and veggies your kids should eat every day? Eye opening. 

produce lunch

2. Prep fruits and veggies ahead of time. 
Adding lots of fruits and veggies to your kid's lunchbox is a hundred times easier if they're sliced, cut, peeled and ready to go ahead of time. Pick a day, set aside 30 minutes and get friendly with your cutting board and your favorite knife. Trust me, you won't regret this. The lunch below took all of five minutes to throw together because I had already sliced everything except the salami. 

summer lunch 1

3. Be adventure-ready! 
Some kids love unstructured time but some kids need their days to be more carefully planned. Whichever category your kids fall into, having a lunch that's already packed will make getting out the door much smoother. Best way to do this? Pack lunches at night. Whether your kids are choosing their own lunches or you're the one deciding what they'll eat, lunch packing goes much better with wine than it does with coffee. Plus, if you're packing leftovers, doing it at night makes sense, right? 

lunch 3

4. Don't forget breakfast! 
Who doesn't love breakfast for lunch? Whether it's waffles, crepes, eggs or a yogurt parfait, there are loads of foods that are delicious and fun for breakfast AND lunch. Below are three examples of brunchy lunches that my kids love. 

brunch lunch 1
brunchy lunch 2
brunchy lunch 3

Whatever you pack, be sure to include an ice pack to keep lunch contents safe and cool for the day, as well as a big container of water to keep kids well hydrated. 

For daily lunch inspiration, be sure to follow us on Instagram. Happy lunching! 

You might also like: 
Strategies to Get More Veggies in That Lunchbox
Lunchbox Favorites
Meal and Snack Planning at Your Fingertips

DIY Meals for Kids

I'm a big fan of kids in the kitchen. But I'll be honest, despite all of the reasons to get kids cooking, sometimes the reality of the giant mess that usually follows is completely unappealing. On the days that I just. cant. deal. with that kitchen mess, but still want to keep the spirit of kid involvement alive and well, I go DIY. 

Below are five ideas for you to have some fun with mealtime. They've been a huge hit in my house and as an added bonus: the prep is done by me so my kitchen isn't a complete disaster by the time the meal is served. I hope they're a hit in your house too!  

1. DIY Tacos
Who doesn't love tacos? Actually, one of my kids doesn't love tacos, so when we have DIY Tacos, he makes himself a quesadilla and eats beans and pineapple on the side. Fine by me. But for those who DO love tacos, you can make it fun with black beans, ground meat (season with chile powder and garlic), cheese, cilantro, limes, pineapple, avocado, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, lettuce, peppers and cucumber. Don't forget the tortillas! 

DIY Tacos

2. DIY Bruschetta 
The inspiration for this one comes from What's Gaby Cooking. I saw it and was instantly smitten. My family went bananas for this because there are so many flavor opportunities! DIY Bruschetta is fabulous for entertaining as well. Here we've got grilled bread with: goat cheese, ricotta cheese, fresh mozzarella and a slicing cheese, grilled corn, roasted tomatoes, roasted pepper puree, bean dip, hummus, grilled mushrooms, olives, caramelized onions, guacamole, grilled steak, prosciutto and pesto. Note: when we do this for dinner for just my family, we don't have this many options! This photo was taken before entertaining some guests. :) 

DIY bruschetta

3. DIY Oatmeal  
Cook a big old batch of oatmeal and put some favorite toppers in a muffin tin for the kids to choose from. Ours include: strawberries, raspberries, coconut, banana chips, pumpkin seeds, chopped apple, chopped banana and golden berries. 

DIY oatmeal

4. DIY Pasta
Pasta can be a challenge in my house because my youngest can't eat dairy, my oldest loves dairy and doesn't like too many ingredients in her pasta and my middle child doesn't love meat and eats cheese sparingly. DIY Pasta is a blessing for us! We usually have it with meat or chicken (often leftovers cut up), peas, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, basil, tomatoes and peppers. I frequently have tomato sauce as well.  

DIY Pasta

5. DIY Egg Roll Ups
I got the idea for Egg Roll Ups from Aviva Wittenberg. Essentially, it's using egg as a tortilla replacement and it's pretty genius! Scramble the egg and fry it in a pan with a little butter, flip it after a few minutes and then slide out of the pan onto a plate. Once cool, you can use it like a tortilla and roll up anything you want! For us, it usually involves cheese, quinoa or rice, veggies (below, we have purple cabbage, zucchini, green beans and tomatoes) and ham or chicken (often just cut up leftovers). 

DIY Egg Roll Ups

Are there DIY meals that you make at home? We'd love to hear about them!