meal planning

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 Rover

PlanetBox Rover

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.

We have six lunchboxes that we have been happily relying on for the last several years (PlanetBoxYumbox, Lunch Buddy OfficialOmiebox, Monbento and Lunchbots)  

Planetbox Launch

Planetbox Launch

Each option has pros and cons. I love that the PlanetBox is stainless steel with perfectly sized compartments and a small area for a treat (available in the Rover). We have the carrying bag that has a perfect space for a bus snack and a water bottle. The PlanetBox is expensive, but we've been using ours for over 5 years without any issues so I view it as an 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, the Rover, and the Launch which all fit a great amount of food for lunch. The Launch fits a ton of food - it's great for growth spurts! 



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 these boxes have been in our arsenal for years and are still going strong. 

Lunch Buddy Official 3-in-1

Lunch Buddy Official 3-in-1

Thanks to our friends at Kivanta, we now have a great new Lunch Buddy Official lunchbox. It has been a wonderful new addition to our lunchbox collection!

This is a stainless steel 3-in-1 two tiered box (second tier not shown here). You don't need to use both levels every time, so it's got built in flexibility for lunch packers. It's easy to clean and I love the simple design, but if you're outside of the EU (like I am), this might be pricey to ship. 



The Omiebox has a neat design that makes it possible to pack both hot and cold foods for school. Score! Here's a tip to keep hot foods hot: fill the thermos part with boiling water and let it sit for one minute. Pour out the water and fill with hot food. That'll extend the amount of time that hot food stays hot. Similarly, pop the thermos into the freezer for a few minutes before filling it with cold food (like yogurt). This box is heavier than other lunchboxes and the top of the thermos is sometimes a challenge for my kids to open, but their teachers have been helpful in those situations. 



The Monbento is my oldest child's favorite box. She likes that it has two tiers, and says that it feels like a lunchbox designed for older kids. I like that it makes her happy! The box is plastic and comes in many colors. You can pack just one layer or two, and I like having that flexibility. This box also fits in a wide range of insulated lunch bags. I use silicone cupcake liners to separate items in this box. My favorite part about this Monbento is that it is super easy to clean. Really, you can't go wrong with that. p.s. here's the link to that cute panda salad dressing container.



The Lunchbots container is great because it's compact and fits into a variety of lunch bags. 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.

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. Check out more of our favorite lunch accessories here. For lunch packing ideas and inspiration, be sure to check out our Instagram where we post daily pics. 


* note: This page contains affiliate links. While I am not paid to provide these reviews, I will receive a tiny commission if you make purchases from here. These purchases will help to keep this blog going, so thank you in advance! 

Back to School Lunch Packing Tips


September kicks my butt every year. And though every August I try to will it away and tell myself that this year will be different, it never seems to work out that way. 

The fact is, everything is a struggle in September. It stinks to get back into a routine, and it's hard work to figure out who has to be where and when on which day. On my crankiest days, I even have a problem adjusting to the weather change — and I love fall. 

Its underatandable, then, that just a month or so into a new school year, parents are already over packing school lunch.

Listen, I'm totally with you. I'm over here trying to get my work done, showing up for curriculum night, returning long overdue library books and remembering to buy sneakers in the right size for each kid (how on earth do feet grow so quickly in summer?!). I might have three brain cells left to dedicate to lunch packing. 

I definitely don't have all of the answers, but I have some tips up my sleeve to share with you, and I promise, they don't require more than three brain cells to process.  If you're looking for some lunchbox inspiration, head over to Instagram, where I share loads of lunches regularly. If you're looking for allergy friendly ideas, I've got you covered

Produce Prep

1. Cut your fruit and veggies in advance. Just do it. If setting aside the time is hard, I understand. It's probably not the best thing to do on, say, a Monday morning before school and work. How about at some point on the weekend though? Buy your produce during the week and set up shop with your cutting board and your knife for 20 minutes on the weekend. Your future self will be incredibly grateful. I love produce prep not only because it makes my lunchpacking and cooking easier, but also because it's quiet solo time for me. I take it where I can get it, so I'm calling it a win-win. 

Packed Lunch

2. Stop reinventing the wheel. You really don't need to come up with something new and interesting for lunch all the time. Your kids can do all of that heavy lifting for you. If it's a busy week ahead for me, I let my kids know what's available for them to choose based on what I know I'll have time to pack. Sometimes that's yogurt, fruit, veggies and frozen waffles. Sometimes it's more elaborate. My kids use the LaLa Lunchbox app, but however you hand over the reigns to your brood, make it a system that works for you. 

Using LaLa Lunchbox

3. Meal Plan. The LaLa Lunchbox meal planning app is the only one that involves kids in the process of choosing what's for lunch. It's a fun, simple and interactive platform that engages kids, empowering them to make better choices when it comes to the food they eat. For parents, it generates an easy-to-use grocery list to help them stay organized and on top of their lunch game. The best part is, it's free to download (only available right now on iOS). Give it a try and let me know what you think! 

School lunch can be challenging, but we're in this together. However you handle it at your house, I'm wishing you the best.  

Tips for Easy Summer Lunches

The weather is warm, the sun is shining for longer, and people everywhere are outside with smiles on their faces. I love you, summer! 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

Winter 2015-2016 School Lunches

This time of year, there's a general feeling of UGH in the air when it comes to school lunch. Believe me, I feel it too. I pack lunches at night to save time and energy in the morning, and while it works well for us, there's still no magic fairy packing lunches for my 3 kiddos. If you're looking for a bit of inspiration to get you out of the winter school lunch blahs, look no further -- here are some of the lunches that have been fueling us through winter.  

For daily pics of our three lunches, head over to Instagram and for a look at even more options, check this out. These lunches have been chosen by my kids - and here's what's amazing: when you give kids the power and responsibility to choose, they really do rise to the occasion. Check out these lunches! If you're looking to simplify your lunch-packing life, here's what will make that a reality. Trust me on this. 

hummus with pita and carrots, apple, arugula with lemon and chocolate covered blueberries

Yogurt, "tuxedo banana," raspberries, broccoli and cookies

chicken, cucumbers, mango, golden berries and raspberries and a chocolate truffle

spinach and potato pierogies with sea salt yogurt for dipping, pea shoots, raspberries and dark chocolate

leftover pizza on a lollipop stick, raspberries, mango and chocolate covered blueberries

chicken sausage wrapped in puff pastry, mango, clementine, blueberries and cookies

black beans and brown rice, raspberries, golden berries, apple, green beans and cookies

breakfast for lunch: mini waffles and mini maple syrup, mango, yogurt and blueberries, peas and a cookie

egg, clementine, apple, green beans, rice cakes and cookies

eggs, broccoli, raspberries, coconut date roll, toast sticks, clementine, carrots and a mini no-bake (egg-free) chocolate chip cookie dough bar

banana sunbutter dog with jam, cara cara orange, broccoli, strawberries and homemade granola bar

ham, date, pea shoots, broccoli, blueberries and granola

pancakes, "tuxedo banana," carrots, strawberries and a brownie bite

macaroni and cheese, raspberry and carrot "wands," clementines, fig bars

leftover pasta with turkey meatballs, zucchini, peas and cookies

arugula salad, chicken cutlet, raspberries and brownie bites

cheese and crackers, carrots, blood orange, apple and a chocolate

salad with goat cheese, leftover pasta with tomato sauce, mango and a brownie bite

Looking for lunch containers for your school lunches? Check out our favorites

Meal and Snack Planning at the Kids' Fingertips

I love the grocery store. Except when I hate it. My kids feel the same way. There are some weeks that they're chomping at the bit to come with me and other weeks where they're practically offended that I've asked. As I browse the aisles, I think about what's in season and I check out what looks good but I'm also thinking about what *I* want to eat and what *I* want to cook. This week I felt like having chicken thighs for dinner one night. And I was in the mood to make granola and spinach pie. I always keep my kids' preferences in mind when I'm shopping, but as the parent, I make the final decisions about what's in our house (and what's not). 

On weeks that my kids come with me to shop, they're given more freedom to choose what we purchase. Tired of chicken legs? No problem, I'll be flexible. Want those pretzels that we haven't had in a while? Okay. But once I've done the grocery shopping for the week, their choices are limited to what we have. 

meal planning with LaLa Lunchbox
manage items on LaLa Lunchbox

After I shop, I manage the Food Library on our LaLa Lunchbox app and dim out those items that we won't have available for the week. It's a fast process, and it makes their meal planning easier as well. They make food choices based on what's in stock at home. But beyond lunches, my kids have started meal planning for their after school snacks. When all of this is chosen in advance, I can set up their snacks at night so there's (a little) less whining about how very hungry they are the minute they step off the bus. Win-win. 

It's been a system that has been working for me, though on weekends when I'm feeling uninspired, I still hand over the phone *before* shopping instead of after. However your family has chosen to navigate the world of kids and food, finding a system that works for you as the parent is critical. If you're looking for a way to lessen the load of lunches and snacks, check out my top time and sanity-saving tips