School Lunch Essentials and Ideas

Can you believe that summer vacation is already over? How in the world did that happen? Back to school means back to making school lunches, and today I’d like to share with you the essential tools we use to make packing school lunches as simple as possible.

Healthy Back To School Lunch Essentials and Ideas

I also have the pleasure of going on Good Things Utah this morning! (Link to that video right here.) I love the ladies there so much, they make it super fun. I’m going to give you a rundown on the lunches I’m showing off today so you can do it all yourself.

First up, chili (or any other soup) in a thermos:


This cute little thermos is an absolute must have for us, top of my essentials list. I love having the option of sending a hot lunch with my daughters, especially on those super cold winter mornings! You can really heat any leftovers at all and send them in here. I have sent spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, and so many other things.

Of course, soup is an absolute thermos classic. On the show and in the picture I’m showing our homemade chili (recipe coming soon!), but here are some other great soups that I love to send:

I will always also send some kind of fruit on the side, and sometimes some kind of bread.

What is my girls’ all-time favorite lunch? Like most people, they simply can’t get enough pizza!


We make pizza at home quite often, and when we do I always make a little extra crust dough. I roll out that dough, brush it with a little olive oil, and then bake it until it is nearly done. Then I let them cool, cut them into wedges, and store them in the freezer. I also freeze the leftover sauce in ice cube trays. When it comes time to pack lunch, I just pop a few crust wedges into one of these wonderful divided containers, add two frozen cubes of sauce in a little snack bag with the corner snipped, and some leftover shredded cheese or a string cheese, and any toppings they like. They love to be able to build their own pizza right there at the lunch table!

Hint: If you don’t have any leftover crust wedges, you can always use a pita or tortilla cut into pieces. My kids certainly don’t mind!

I also like to pack in a treat a couple of times a week, and my kids love this homemade fruit leather!

One of my absolute favorite lunches actually wouldn’t be considered a lunch at all. It is probably one I take more often to work with me than I send with them to school because it is super yummy! It is also technically a breakfast, but who doesn’t love breakfast food at any time of day?


I just can’t get enough yogurt! I make my own yogurt from scratch because my yogurt habit is so strong that I’d go broke with all the yogurt I’d be buying, but you certainly can buy yours at the store. I recommend a plain, whole milk yogurt, and the only ingredients should be milk and the yogurt bacteria. Plain yogurt can be quite tart, but it’s easy to flavor any way you like with some fruit, honey, or real maple syrup.

My favorite way to eat it is with some fresh fruit and my homemade granola.

I love these twist top containers for anything that might leak in some way. School lunches sure get banged around a lot in those backpacks, and I don’t like cleaning up messes if I don’t have to! These do a really great job of keeping the liquid in.

The next lunch idea is an easy way to make your kids’ lunch fun and cute, without spending a ton of time!

Look at this simple little rainbow!


One way I get my kids to really pack in the veggies is with hummus. They love this lunch because it makes a pretty rainbow, and they love it too! I use all kinds of veggies for this; carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, anything that works as a good scoop.

These little silicone muffin cups are wonderful to act as extra dividers. I can’t seem to get enough of them!

As I was packing this last one up, my 5-year-old said, “Can I please have that one? Please!?!?”


Waffles can be too messy for school lunches if you dress them up with the usual syrup, so I turned these waffles into a sandwich with cream cheese and fruit in the middle. I added more fruit and some veggies on the side to really load up on the nutrients and give them plenty of produce to pick from.

We use a lot of these reusable ice packs, and they are so cute! Stock your freezer with a ton of these. Also, you need to make sure you have a cute insulated lunch box to make it more fun to bring a home lunch. As you are shopping for lunchboxes, make sure the one you pick fits the divided containers I talked about above, they don’t fit in all the insulated lunch boxes.

What do you like to send for school lunches?

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