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

*This page contains affiliate links. It will not change the price of the item for you, but if you make a purchase, I will get a small commission.

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

Nut Free Lunchbox Ideas

If your child’s school has a no nut policy, or if you’re navigating tree nut or peanut allergies, this one is for you!

My home is always nut free because of my allergies, and here’s a roundup of some of my favorite no-nut lunches. You’ll see that some of these lunchboxes have sunflower seed butter. We usually use a store bought variety for that, but I’ve also made my own. Patience is key with that, but the reward is great.

Don’t forget that the LaLa Lunchbox app has a special Nut Free Bundle available for download to provide you with some lunch packing inspiration. Let’s get to it…

Nut free granola, grapes, carrots, banana, dates with sunflower seed butter

Nut free granola, grapes, carrots, banana, dates with sunflower seed butter

There’s a lot to love about this lunchbox.

It’s got my favorite homemade granola - which is usually hard to find without nuts. If you’re nut free, trust me, you’re going to want this recipe. It’s perfect for snacking, breakfast or lunch, filled with a variety of wonderful textures and flavors, with exactly the right sweet/salt balance.

Here we’ve also got carrots, grapes, a tuxedo banana, a couple of strawberries and some dates filled with sunflower seed butter. I eat that regularly as a hearty, delicious snack and it always hits the spot.

Lunchbox with prosciutto, peppers, grapefruit, pomegranate, dates with sunflower seed butter and chocolate chips.

Lunchbox with prosciutto, peppers, grapefruit, pomegranate, dates with sunflower seed butter and chocolate chips.

I like to think about this lunchbox as a cold busting-lunchbox. Here we’ve got vitamin C from both the citrus and the peppers, with fiber and magnesium from the dates, protein from the sunflower seed butter, and vitamins B and C from the pomegranate. 💪🏻 As for that prosciutto and the chocolate chips? Well, that’s for added deliciousness. 

In the lunchbox: Turkey BLT with guacamole and peppers, grapes and orange.

In the lunchbox: Turkey BLT with guacamole and peppers, grapes and orange.

How about a turkey BLT for that lunchbox? We make ours with mustard instead of mayo, but you can customize yours however you’d like! The key is to toast the bread first, so that this sandwich stays crispy for lunchtime. This lunchbox features turkey bacon, but any bacon will do. My tomato-hating kid gets a BL sandwich with no T, occasionally with a scrambled egg. Make sure not to place the lettuce next to your condiment, or you’ll end up with limp soggy lettuce!

In the lunchbox: pizza rollups, banana with chocolate chips, cucumber and baby carrots, strawberries.

In the lunchbox: pizza rollups, banana with chocolate chips, cucumber and baby carrots, strawberries.

Here’s a lunchbox that is sure to make the kids smile. These pizza rollups are made with naan, but you can make them with any bread. Here’s how:
Spread marinara sauce on top of the bread. Add shredded mozzarella and fresh basil and place under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese has melted. When cool enough to touch, roll the bread up, and slice to make these bite sized roll ups. The process is very similar to rolling sushi. Want a tutorial? Right this way.

To make that spotted banana, use the pointy tip of a chocolate chip and spear into the banana.

Grilled cheese wafflewich in the lunchbox with strawberries, grapes, tomatoes, cucumber and chocolate.

Grilled cheese wafflewich in the lunchbox with strawberries, grapes, tomatoes, cucumber and chocolate.

When I made grilled cheese wafflewiches for the first time, my kids celebrated! What a fun mash up of breakfast and lunch! They're easy to eat, delicious and my kids dig them hot and melty, or cold from the fridge. It’s a serious win in my book! Hop on over to find that recipe, and be sure to stash some in the freezer!

Grilled Cheese Wafflewiches

savory waffle

It took me a while to broaden my breakfast horizon beyond pancakes. I dedicated loads of time to perfecting the pancake recipe, and once that was settled, I had a grand old time experimenting with variations. Pancakes were a great building block for all sorts of lunchboxes for my kids. In general, I thought we were chugging along just fine.  

And then one day, my older daughter discovered not one, but two waffle irons in the back of a kitchen cabinet that rarely sees the light of day. She looked up a recipe and promptly made breakfast for all of us. The kids were elated. From there, we spent several weekend mornings testing out various waffle recipes and building our freezer stash for lunchboxes. A sea change was in the air. 

savory wafflewich ingredients

I yearned for waffles, and I wanted them savory. After lots of recipe fails, I figured out that the key to crispy waffles was the addition of corn starch, and in fact, waffles aren't just pancakes with abs. With that little bit of knowledge under my belt, and many rounds of recipe testing, I created our family's favorite savory waffle recipe. They're slightly salty, with a hint of bold flavor, all nestled within the comfort and reliability that you'd want from waffles. These savory waffles are the perfect canvas for all sorts of toppings, but hands down, our favorite is a simple grilled cheese wafflewich. Crispy outsides, gooey insides. This is the stuff of dreams!

Grilled cheese is a staple in so many homes, and this recipe elevates that concept and makes it perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This recipe was created in partnership with TheFeedfeed and Land O Lakes® and it quickly became a staple in my home. I use Land O Lakes® Deli American cheese because it melts beautifully, and it's creamy deliciousness brings me back to my own childhood. My mom used to make open-faced grilled cheese sandwiches with Land O Lakes® Deli American in the toaster oven and heat them until big brown bubbles formed on top. Those bubbles were absolutely magical. They still are. For breakfast, we serve these waffles open-faced with that same toasted bubble, but when it comes to the lunchbox, we're all about the closed face wafflewich. 

Grilled cheese wafflewich

Grilled cheese wafflewich

Making grilled cheese wafflewiches for my kids is both a celebration of new discoveries, and a nod to my past. They're easy to eat, delicious and my kids dig them hot and melty, or cold from the fridge. Here's what else I love about them: Land O Lakes® Deli American cheese is available at pretty much every deli counter near me, so it's reliably easy to find, and always sliced fresh. These days, I can send my 12 year old out to buy it, and the only thing I don't know in advance is whether she will pick up yellow or white (which by the way, is a heated debate in my house, but that's a story for another day). 

savory wafflewich lunchbox

grilled cheese Wafflewiches 

Ingredients

savory waffles

20 (3/4 ounce) slices of Land O Lakes® Deli American cheese
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons chopped chives
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Land O Lakes grilled cheese wafflewich lunchbox

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. In a separate bowl, add the chives, buttermilk and eggs 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 mixed.

  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.

  7. When you have finished using all of the batter, remove the waffles from the oven and heat the oven to broil.

  8. Lay out the waffles on a cookie sheet. Place 2-3 slices of Land O Lakes® Deli American cheese (3/4 ounce each) on each of the waffles, making sure to drape them over the edge slightly. Place under the broiler for approximately 1-2 minutes or until the cheese has completely melted. Alternate method: place the sliced cheese on top of each waffle just after it finishes cooking. Create a pressed wafflewich by placing a waffle on top and closing the lid. Slice each wafflewich into 4 equal squares, or serve whole.

Makes 5 full wafflewiches. I typically cut these into quarters. 

My favorite part about these Savory Wafflewiches? Definitely the fact that my dairy-eating kids love to pack them for lunch! If you make this recipe, share it on Instagram and be sure to tag #lalalunchbox #Feedfeed and #LandOLakes 

savory waffle platter

*Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Land O Lakes® and TheFeedfeed. All opinions are my own.

 

The Lunchbox Homestretch

Packing lunchboxes at the end of the school year sometimes feels like the worst. chore. ever. Am I right? Unfortunately those lunchboxes can't pack themselves, so here are some recent lunchboxes that I hope will give you some inspiration to help you through the lunchbox homestretch. If you're looking for more frequent ideas, be sure to follow along on Instagram. And of course, if you want to take the guesswork out of packing lunch, download the LaLa Lunchbox app (free on iOS), hand the phone over to your kids and empower them to make choices -- all within a list of available options that you control. 

Anyway, below are 5 lunchboxes, all with a slightly different approach, but with a common theme: they all have an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, they're all nut free and they all took less than 10 minutes to put together. 

1. Leftovers! My kids had tortellini one night recently for dinner and I made much more than I needed for dinner so that I could pack it in the lunchboxes. Easy peasy. Toss that in the bento with some fruit and a veggie and you're good to go. This lunch is nut free and vegetarian. 

leftovers

2. The Big Dipper. This lunchbox has two dipping options: sunflower seed butter and hummus. There are veggies, corn chips and apple slices for dipping and a fun little polka dotted banana with the sweet treat of mini chocolate chips. It's a finger-friendly lunchbox. This lunch is dairy free, nut free, gluten free and vegetarian. 

Big Dipper

3. The New Outfit. I don't know about you, but I've packed pretty much this same lunch a thousand times. Look closely and let's break it down: it's a cheese sandwich, with fruit, carrots, lettuce and a brownie. But here I've used a different bread (these are bistro buns) and I popped the raspberries on top of the baby carrots. It's old familiar foods, dressed up in a new outfit, and sometimes that's all the jazzing up that's needed. This lunch is nut free, gluten free, dairy free and vegan. 
 

The New Outfit

4. The Crunchy Bruncher. This lunch is half brunch, half crunch. There are wafflewiches with sunflower seed butter (aka: frozen mini waffles made into sandwiches with sunflower seed butter - and any nut butter will do here), and dates for that creamy sweet appeal, plus pretzels, crunchy veggies and guacamole for dipping. There's a sunflower seed butter and chocolate cup for a treat. A fun lunch to eat! This lunch is nut free and vegetarian. 

The Crunchy Bruncher

5. The DIY. Do you have Taco Tuesday at your house? We frequently do, and my kids love to make their own tacos for lunch the next day with leftovers. Here we've got corn tortillas with chicken (seasoned with my homemade taco seasoning) with lettuce and peppers. Kids can put their fixins on at lunch and gobble it up. On the sweet side, we've got watermelon with mint and some dye free gummy bears. This lunch is nut free, dairy free, gluten free and vegan. 

The DIY

What's your lunchbox homestretch strategy? Email me, I'd love to hear it!