tips and tricks

Easy Lunchbox Rollup Ideas

Rollups are a great lunchbox idea for kids who don’t love sandwiches but want something that’s easy and fun to eat. Once I got the idea for Rollup Week on Instagram, the ideas were rushing into my head faster than I could keep up with!

Basically anything that you can eat on a sandwich can be rolled up. Here are some of my favorites:

BLT Rollup

BLT lunchbox

BLT lunchbox

Bacon, lettuce and tomato is a classic combination! Here I’ve swapped out mayo for avocado and rolled it all up in a tortilla before packing it in this lunchbox. Here, I’ve used 1/2 an avocado, mashed and spread it onto a tortilla. Then I added 2 slices of cooked bacon, a handful of shredded lettuce and 4 cherry tomatoes that I sliced. I rolled it up and sliced into pieces.

Burrito Rollup

Black Bean Burrito Lunchbox

Black Bean Burrito Lunchbox

Burritos are a perfect lunchbox idea! Here we’ve got black beans (recipe adapted from Pamela Salzman) with quinoa (instead of rice), lettuce and peppers. I love burritos because they’re so adaptable. Got chicken? Use that! Hate peppers? Eliminate them! Basically anything that you put on a taco can be used in a burrito and rolled up in a tortilla. Add a thin layer of quinoa or rice to half of the tortilla. Top it with beans (or chicken or any other protein). Add other toppings, such as veggies, cheese, salsa, sour cream, etc. Roll, slice and pack!

Strawberry Sunbutter Rollups

Strawberry Sunbutter Rollup

These are totally similar to the Banana Rollups that we pack and love, but different enough to keep it interesting. Know what I mean?
I’m allergic to nuts, so we’re nut free around here. Sunflower seed butter is my go-to substitute. Using strawberries here is a great change of pace from banana. Spread a thin layer of sunbutter (or any nut butter) on the entire tortilla. Add berries in one line in the bottom third of the open tortilla. Here I used 5 strawberries that I sliced. Roll, slice and pack!

Pizza Omelette Rollups & Berry Cream Cheese Rollups

Pizza Omelette Rollups & Berry Cream Cheese Rollups

Pizza Omelette Rollups & Berry Cream Cheese Rollups

Here’s a twofer: Pizza Omelette Rollups and Berry Cream Cheese Rollups. The Pizza Omelette Rollup is made with two eggs that I flat fried in a pan. As they were cooking, I added dollops of tomato paste (about 2 tablespoons), mozzarella cheese and basil. With the heat on medium low, I waited until the cheese had melted. I slid this out of the pan and onto a board and let it rest for a few minutes before rolling. Eggs are a great substitute for tortillas for gluten free folks!

For the Berry Cream Cheese Rollups, spread a thin layer of cream cheese onto a tortilla. Add berries exactly the same way as you’d do for the Strawberry Sunbutter Rollups. Here I’ve used whole blackberries. This also works beautifully with mango and mint!

Avocado Carrot Sushi Rollups

Avocado Carrot Sushi

Avocado Carrot Sushi

I’m allergic to fish, so the sushi that comes out of my kitchen is always made with veggies. They’re easy to make and fun to eat! I’ve got a tutorial posted here that shows how I make avocado sushi. Give it a look!
All you need for this is nori sheets, rice, rice vinegar, avocado and carrots (lightly steamed). Want to give this a little nutritional boost? Use quinoa instead of rice, or add another protein.

Do your kids like rollups? Let me know in the comments below. Feel free to download these photos and add them to the LaLa Lunchbox library so that your kids can choose them regularly. If you like what you see here, follow along with me on Instagram where I post regularly.

Back to School Lunch Packing Tips

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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.  

The Thankful Tree

I can't remember where I first came across the idea, but the Thankful Tree has been a huge hit with everyone around our Thanksgiving table for the last several years. It's the spirit of Thanksgiving in a beautiful centerpiece: each member of the Thanksgiving feast has to contribute at least one leaf with what he or she is thankful for and it becomes a bouquet of gratitude. 

The Thankful Tree is basically a hands-on family craft project that immediately becomes a conversation piece. For the wee ones, of course, parents can contribute. Two years ago, for example, my youngest said she was thankful for "yellow," and that's what we wrote on one of the leaves. On a more serious note, my family has had a couple of stressful years, with one member who had breast cancer and another who had open heart surgery, and the Thankful Tree has been a wonderful channel for us all to express our gratitude for their recovery, their medical care, and our family's ability to get through tough times together. This year we'll be adding some more color to our Thankful Tree with the new Gratitude Tree Notes from Lunchbox Love, a company whose lunchbox cards we love and use regularly. Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday, and this is something I'm looking forward to immensely. See below for instructions on how you can create your own Thankful Tree. 

the Thankful Tree
Thankful Tree branches

Here's how to do it: 
1. Gather long thin branches.
2. Cut colored construction paper into leaf shapes and use a hole puncher to make a hole in each.
3. Have each person at your holiday gathering write at least one thing they are thankful for (make pens readily available).
4. Use kitchen twine or any other string to fasten the leaves onto the branches. 
5. Assemble in a vase and place at the center of your table. 

We talked about these all night long last year, and I'm looking forward to gathering branches soon. I can't wait to read the leaves this year!