My Recipe for School Lunches

I’ve been packing lunches and snacks for Amalia since she started daycare as a baby but with the move to Kindergarten, we had to take out anything and everything tree nut and peanut which has been a major shift. Her daycare class never had any allergies so this is new for us.

Luckily the “recipe” I have always used for her lunches still works with just a few easy swaps. And if you missed it, check out my post from last week with tips to make school lunches more sustainable. Amalia picked out this lunchbox for the school year with this bento box that fits inside.

Once she’s able to buy hot lunch from the cafeteria in a few weeks, we will let her try a few days to see which ones she likes then plan from there. Either way, I’ll be packing healthy sides so she doesn’t just eat pizza and cookies all day!

Recipe for School Lunches

– Entrée (something filling)
– Fruit
– Veggie
– Salty, crunchy snack
– Protein snack
– Treat

I made a list of our favorite items and ideas for each section for you guys. There are a million other options other than this list to pack in school lunches but Amalia is a pretty picky eater so these are just our go-to’s.


A really super fun fact about my daughter is that she refuses to eat leftovers in her lunch. I’ve tried every which way and it just doesn’t happen. The queen needs something fresh, apparently. I almost always give Luca leftovers for his daycare lunches, but this is her list of approved lunch meals.

– Hummus with carrots, crackers, or pretzels
– Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches (most days)
– Bagel with cream cheese
– Mac & cheese in her thermos
– Quesadilla (in thermos) with a side of sour cream
Spinach Littles (in thermos)
– Cheese and cracker “sandwiches”
– Birchbenders Paleo Toaster Waffles with sunbutter and a little maple syrup


Truly the possibilities are endless here. I try to include a fresh fruit everyday but once in a while if we have just come back from a trip or we’re all out for some reason, I’ll give her an applesauce pouch.

– Berries: All the kinds
– Apple slices
– Orange sections
– Grapes
– Peaches/nectarines in the summer
– Watermelon
– Banana (unpeeled)


Amalia only eats 4 raw vegetables so I rotate between these for both lunch and dinner.  Please tell me this will change someday?

– Sliced cucumbers
– Baby carrots
– Snap peas
– Sliced bell peppers

Salty Crunchy Snack

This is another easy section to fill because my girl loves her salty carbs (just like mama).

– Trader Joe’s Veggie Sticks: Her preferred brand.
– Trader Joe’s Sour Cream and Onion Lentil Rings: I put this under protein and salty snacks because it fits both buckets.
– Pretzels: Any variety will do but Pretzel Crisps are her favorite.
PopCorners Kettle Corn Chips
– Trader Joe’s Honey Wheat Sticks
– Popcorn
Cheddar Cheesy Smiles: Luca also loves these.
– Goldfish/Cheddar Bunnies
Annie’s Snack Mix: Pro-tip don’t open a bag for yourself this stuff is addictive.
– Pirate’s Booty
– Classic Ritz crackers
– Cheese sandwich crackers

Protein Snack

– Cheese Stick
Trader Joe’s Sour Cream and Onion Lentil Rings: These are delicious, I eat them for a snack myself too.
– Yogurt or yogurt pouch
– Hippeas Chickpea Puffs: The vegan cheddar flavor is a hit in our house.
Magic Spoon Cereal (dry): Double points because she thinks it’s a treat 😉
Spinach blender muffins with added collagen (I make these almost every week, both kids gobble them up)


Her daycare never allowed candy but I guess fruit gummies didn’t count? I’m going to keep that rule going until Halloween when I’ll sneak in a piece or two now that it’s allowed.

– Annie’s Gummies
– Annie’s Fruit Tape
– Cookie
– Muffin
Bunny Grahams

Individually-Packaged Snacks

Per last week’s post about how to make school lunches more sustainable, I try to only include individually wrapped snacks when necessary (except for pouches which I send in 2-3x/week because she never has time to finish food during lunch and snack breaks and these are a quick and easy way to get her nutrients).

Brainiac Brain Squeezers: These applesauce pouches are great (and can be subbed in if you don’t have fresh fruit on hand too!) because my kids love them and they’re packed with brain-boosting fuel like 160 mg of Omega-3s, 120 mg of Choline, and 25 mg of Vitamin C. They won Good Housekeeping’s Parenting Awards in 2021 and Snack Awards in 2022 for good reason! 10/10 recommend from the Dzafic family. Use my code 20LEMONSTR on their website or amazon for 20% off!

On another note, we can’t send their Brain Butter packets to school (no tree nuts or peanuts allowed) but Amalia has had one of them on a rice cake for an after-school snack every day since she’s started Kindergarten. Anel and I eat them straight from the package! The chocolate almond is our family’s favorite.

They also make a delicious snack bar with a brain and eye boost!

– Trader Joe’s Peel-Away Fruit Buttons: We discovered these fruit leather buttons on a recent Trader Joe’s run and she loves them.

Bear Fruit Rolls: Another good fruit-leather option in recycled packaging.

Skout Organic Snack Bars: Amalia doesn’t like any bars except for these.

Madegood Strawberry Granola Minis

Veggie Straws: Not her preferred brand but they do come in smaller packs for when you need that.

Annie’s Organic Variety Pack: We keep these on hand for when we need a grab-and-go option.

Whisps Cheese Crisps

– Cheese Sticks: IDK if this counts as individually packaged but each cheese stick is wrapped in plastic so I guess? I wish you could buy these without the plastic-wrap.