lunchbox

Pasta Lunchbox Ideas

I hadn’t realized how many ways there are to serve pasta in a lunchbox until I launched Pasta Week on Instagram. But wow! The ideas are limitless! Here’s a roundup of the ideas I’ve shared with links to recipes where applicable.

Beyond the traditional mac and cheese lunchbox, there’s a world of ideas using pasta to pack up for school lunch!

Do you have a favorite pasta lunchbox idea? Share it in the comments below!

school lunch roundup pasta

Pasta with Quick Meat Sauce

Here’s a meal that comes together in under 30 minutes, and works seamlessly from dinner to lunchbox leftovers. Score! The recipe has just 7 ingredients and is absolutely kid approved. It’s on steady rotation around here and is one of the few lunchbox ideas that I send in a thermos. I’ve used our Lunchbots thermos here.

Pasta with Quick Meat Sauce in a thermos

Pasta with Quick Meat Sauce in a thermos

Pesto Pasta

Pesto is something I didn’t eat for years. With nut allergies like mine, pesto is one of those things that can be dangerous. I love pasta. I love basil. It’s a natural flavor fit for me, so I developed a recipe that I’m absolutely crazy about, and so is my family! I love the simplicity of this recipe, and that I can freeze any unused pesto. This is a perfect example of “cook once, eat twice;” so make a big old batch for dinner and send it off in a lunchbox (assuming you have leftovers!) This is packed in our Monbento.

Nut Free Pesto Pasta Lunchbox

Nut Free Pesto Pasta Lunchbox

Tortellini Kebabs

This lunchbox idea doesn’t have a recipe, and it couldn’t be easier. Tortellini absolutely tastes more delicious on a stick, right? :) All you need are cooked tortellini, veggies of your choice and some lollipop sticks. Here I’ve used tomato and basil, but in the past we’ve used all different veggies (peppers, cucumbers, summer squash, cooked carrot, you name it!) This is packed in our Yumbox Panino.

tortellini kebab lunchbox

tortellini kebab lunchbox

Chicken & Veggie Lo Mein

I started making Lo Mein a few years ago after seeing it on my friend Karen’s feed and drooling over it. Karen runs the blog Healthy Gluten Free Family and has loads of great ideas to feed families. When I decided to give this one a go, it was an immediate hit with my crew. Now we’ve got it on repeat. I’ve modified Karen’s recipe slightly based on our preferences, and make this with either gluten free pasta or regular pasta. This is packed in our PlanetBox Rover.

Chicken and Veggie Lo Mein Lunchbox

Chicken and Veggie Lo Mein Lunchbox

Taco Pasta

We love tacos. We love pasta. It finally dawned on me to combine the two! The tricky part: coming up with a name for this! Is it Taco Pasta? Tacsta? Pasco? Something else?
Essentially it’s pasta with taco seasoning and veggies. For us, this is a fridge forage meal that uses up the odds and ends of the vegetables in the fridge. It also goes nicely with added grilled chicken. Here it’s packed in our Lunchbots Cinco.

Taco Pasta Lunchbox

Taco Pasta Lunchbox

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Valentines Day Lunchbox Ideas

Valentine’s Day is a fun little holiday that we don’t actually celebrate around here with any seriousness. Truth be told, the hubs and I exchange cards some years, but we forget some years. There’s usually some baking involved for the kids, but in general, it’s not a big time holiday at my house.

Still though, I like to include some lunchbox fun for the kiddos. Here’s a roundup of some fun lunchbox ideas for Valentine’s Day that I hope will give you some inspiration, plus links to my recipes for Pink Smoothie Pancakes and Pink Smoothie Waffles. Trust me on this one… your kids are going to love it!

First up, we’ve got Pink Smoothie Pancakes (recipe here)

Pink Smoothie Pancakes

Pink Smoothie Pancakes

You can whip up a batch of those pancakes and use them instead in your waffle iron to get this lovely lunchbox! (recipe here)

Pink Smoothie Waffles in the lunchbox

Pink Smoothie Waffles in the lunchbox

How about some pink sushi? All you need are some roasted beets to get that amazing color. (Recipe here)

Pink avocado sushi makes a fun lunchbox for kids!

Pink avocado sushi makes a fun lunchbox for kids!

Here’s a super quick idea: use a heart cookie cutter and cut out a bit of your sandwich with it to add some love. Fun toothpicks also accessorize this lunchbox nicely.

Heart cut out sandwich for Valentines Day lunchbox

Heart cut out sandwich for Valentines Day lunchbox

If you like these ideas and make them yourself, tag me on social media @lalalunchbox so I can see!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Homemade Dairy Free Chicken Tenders

Raise your hand if you like chicken tenders!

homemade chicken tenders dairy free easy recipe

Every time I make these, I wonder why I don’t do it more often. They’re super tasty, the kids love them, and they’re perfect for the freezer. That part about my apartment and my clothes smelling like chicken tenders can be a plus or a minus depending on the day.

homemade dairy free chicken tenders in a lunchbox

homemade dairy free chicken tenders in a lunchbox

I like to make mine dairy free lately, using oat milk and I don’t add cheese to the process. Most of the ingredients here are pantry staples, so it’s a great go-to for when you pick up some chicken breasts and don’t know what you want to do with them. This recipe makes enough for all 5 of us with dinner, or enough for dinner and a lunchbox for my 3 kids.

If you make this, tag me @lalalunchbox and let me know how it went!

Homemade Chicken Nuggets (Dairy Free)

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (4 halves)
1 cup panko
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk (I used unsweetened oat milk here)
3 eggs
1 tablespoon lemon zest
neutral oil for frying

Cut the chicken breasts into roughly even pieces and set aside. 
Place all dry ingredients into a shallow baking dish and combine thoroughly. 
In a separate medium sized bowl, beat the eggs and add the milk. Lightly beat with a fork to combine. 
These are your three stations: raw chicken, dry + wet. 

Fresh lemon zest makes these homemade chicken tenders bright and delicious

Fresh lemon zest makes these homemade chicken tenders bright and delicious

Place raw chicken pieces into the egg mixture and give them a 15 second soak before taking them out and adding to the dry mixture. Use your fingers to flip the chicken pieces to make sure all of the area is covered with the flour/panko/herbs. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all of the chicken is coated. 

Heat a cast iron pan to medium high. When hot, add the oil and wait about 30 seconds to a minute for the oil to heat. You’ll need enough oil in the pan to cover the entire bottom, but not so much that these are deep fried. I used about 1/4 cup. Add the chicken pieces, making sure not to crowd the pan. Time to flip them will vary depending on the size of your pieces and the heat of your pan. Mine took about 2 minutes per side. Repeat in batches. If your pan needs more oil, add the oil when there are no pieces of chicken in the pan and wait for it to come to temperature before adding more chicken. 

Pin it for later! Easy homemade dairy free chicken tenders.

Pin it for later! Easy homemade dairy free chicken tenders.

Golden Milk Waffles (Dairy Free and Nut Free)

Golden Milk Waffles for a dairy free nut free lunchbox

I’m all about my waffle maker these days.
I love making waffles because they’re a fun weekend breakfast treat that can carry over to the week ahead in the school lunchbox. It’s meal planning at it’s finest. Whip up a bath of waffles - these Golden Milk beauties, Veggie Waffles or Cheesy Waffles to make into a Grilled Cheese Wafflewich, and you’ve got some fun options for your child to choose from for the week ahead. You can add photos of these to the LaLa Lunchbox app library for your child to choose any time you’ve got extras on hand.

This sweet, spiced version is perfect with sliced fruit, or you can make a wafflewich with your favorite nut butter. These will stay fresh in your refrigerator for 2-3 days and you can freeze them for a month.

GOLDEN MILK WAFFLES

Ingredients for Golden Milk Waffles

INGREDIENTS
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 large eggs
1 cup coconut milk (I use full fat)
4 tablespoons of coconut or neutral oil, melted
1 tablespoon date syrup or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Golden Milk Waffles in the making. Dairy free and nut free.
  1. Preheat the waffle iron and the oven to 200 degrees F. In a medium sized bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients.

  2. In a separate bowl, add the wet ingredients: apple cider vinegar, eggs, coconut milk, coconut oil, date syrup and vanilla extract and whisk together until just combined.

  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, making sure that everything is fully incorporated.

  4. When the waffle iron is hot, pour about 1/4 cup of batter to create each waffle (may change depending on your waffle iron). Close the waffle iron and cook for approximately 3 minutes, or until the steam stops spraying out of the sides.

  5. Use a spatula or your fingers to remove the waffle and repeat until the batter is finished.

  6. Place the waffles on a rack and place that rack in the oven to stay warm and crispy.

Golden Milk Waffles, Dairy Free and Nut Free

Easy Waffles for the Lunchbox

veggie waffles for a nut free lunchbox. Prep once eat twice, easy recipe.

Savory Waffles are one of my favorite things to pack in a lunchbox. They’re the delicious leftovers from a relaxing weekend breakfast. Lately I’ve been experimenting the some waffle variety and I’ve gone from sweet to salty thanks to a great recipe base.

The basic components are more or less the same for each recipe. There’s flour and cornstarch, plus raising agents like baking powder and baking soda, eggs to make them fluffy and buttermilk to give them that perfect acid balance.

From there, I’m free to customize the flavors however I’d like. Cinnamon + cardamom + turmeric make a delicious dairy free and nut free Golden Milk Waffle. Added cheese + paprika and garlic powder for a cheesy waffle. Depending on the additions, I can adjust the cornstarch and flour to get the right texture.

Veggie Waffle for a healthy nut free lunchbox.

Pack these up in a lunchbox as a sandwich base or just by themselves, and your kids will celebrate. My kids eat these cold. Happily. And they love to pack them in their lunchboxes using the LaLa Lunchbox app. Of course you can warm them and place them in foil in that lunchbox, if your kids like things warm. You can pack my Grilled Cheese Wafflewiches or these Veggie Waffles and either way, you’re good.

veggie waffles

VEGGIE WAFFLES

INGREDIENTS
1 cup + 3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup finely chopped veggies (such as broccoli, carrots, spinach)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons of neutral oil or unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the waffle iron and the oven to 200 degrees F. In a medium sized bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients.

  2. Heat a small saucepan to medium high heat, add the butter and melt slowly. In a separate bowl, add the chopped veggies, apple cider vinegar, eggs and buttermilk and whisk together until just combined. Whisk in the melted (and cooled) butter and grated parmesan.

  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, making sure that everything is fully incorporated.

  4. When the waffle iron is hot, pour about 1/4 cup of batter to create each waffle (may change depending on your waffle iron). Close the waffle iron and cook for approximately 3 minutes, or until the steam stops spraying out of the sides.

  5. Use a spatula or your fingers to remove the waffle and repeat until the batter is finished.

  6. Place the waffles on a rack and place that rack in the oven to stay warm and crispy.

veggie waffle in a nut free lunchbox. Easy recipe, fun for kids.