School Lunch Ideas

Tracy from Shutterbean shares some of her School Lunch Ideas!

Cooper’s school lunches have morphed quite a bit throughout the years. Cooper is now in third grade and has been giving the responsibility of making his own lunch. YAAAAAAY!!!  I’ve already discussed this before, but Cooper is a finicky eater and in some ways, it’s actually a blessing. He likes pretty much the same thing for lunch most days, so I don’t there isn’t a need to always try new things when it comes to lunch. I like how sometimes it becomes an auto-pilot situation.

It took us quite awhile to figure out what he likes in his lunch. Now we have a base that we stick to and swap things out from time to time. Sometimes I repurpose leftovers to make life easier and every once in awhile I’ll throw a treat in there because I believe that if he had one every day, it wouldn’t be as much of a treat 😉 We shake up the snacks and rotate those out but for the most part his lunch looks something like this:

Tracy from Shutterbean shares some of her School Lunch Ideas!

Most of his lunches look like this: 

  • Sandwich (turkey, lettuce, mustard)
  • Snack (sometimes 2 depending on school)
  • Chips/pretzels
  • Fruit/Vegetable
  • water

To start the new school year off right, I wrote out a list of things he likes right now. This is the template that I keep in my bullet journal so that I have something to refer to when I am out grocery shopping. I can’t recommend this enough. It’s been so helpful to know all the ingredients I can to work with.


Tracy from Shutterbean shares some of her School Lunch Ideas!

I am thinking of printing this out, laminating it and keeping it in my bag. Is that too much? I think I just really want to use my laminator.

Tracy from Shutterbean shares some of her School Lunch Ideas!

Current Equipment:


TUNA SALAD SANDWICH // shutterbeanSandwiches/Sandwich Alternatives


Apples + Lime Juice // shutterbean



Chocolate Chip Cookie Energy Bars // shutterbean


Tracy from Shutterbean shares some of her School Lunch Ideas!

Don’t forget to leave a love note!

I like to write random notes for Cooper on post-its and washi tape  🙂  The best part? Sometimes Cooper will leave me notes around the house because he knows how nice it feels to get one in his lunchbox. It’s the sweetest.  Jokes are always fun too. I have this joke book for kids  in our kitchen and sometimes I’ll write a joke out and put it in his lunch. He LOVES it.

Shutterbean School Lunch Ideas

You can see some of our past lunches here: #shutterbeanschoollunch

I hope this inspires you to get your ideas together and write out your own School Lunch Ideas list. If you’re looking to get your kids in the kitchen, you might like this post I wrote- Kids in the Kitchen.

Is there anything that’s been a huge hit in your family? I’d love to hear. Leave a comment!


  • Carly

    I have a list on the cupboard of what the kids need in their lunches. They have a balanced school day so they have a big snack in the morning (10:15am) and lunch in the early afternoon (12:30pm). The (colour-coded) list has each thing they need (ie. main meal, vegetable, treat, protein, grain, fruit) and examples of what they like (protein: cheese, yogurt, hummus, sun butter, hardboiled egg). The list also reminds them to add cutlery and a napkin to their lunch bag. We used it all last year and this summer for camp and it works like a charm. They still refer to it to make sure they have everything they need for the day.

    I also put notes in their lunch most days. I found a tonne of jokes, quotes, and motivational thoughts, then printed and cut them out. (Exciting lunch hour last week!) They both love sports, so many are sports related. Sometimes I add a personal note on the back, sometimes I just write “love mom” on them. My daughter has all of hers from last year in a box.

  • Heidi

    On Monday night I made a batch of those Kodiak Protein pancakes (I made them kid-size) and put 2 of them in a container and spread with a little butter and a drop or two of syrup. I put a handful of blueberries in there, too. Served with yogurt tube and applesauce/spinach squeezer and it was a HIT. (My little girl is 4 and hasn’t become a sandwich fan yet.)

  • Rachel

    I think it’s great you have Cooper making his own lunch! My parents had me making my lunch early on too (2nd grade maybe?) and I really think it helped me in so many ways!

    • Tracy

      It helps tremendously!! It’s one of the best ways to get them thinking about how to round out a meal!

  • Alisa

    Um, I just may steal this for my own lunches (I don’t have kids!)

  • Jamie

    My 5-year-old just started kindergarten this week so I’m soaking up everyone’s lunch ideas. He’s not overly picky, but he is 5, so I’m in that balance of packing things he will eat/can get into easily/aren’t too messy/won’t leave a sad trail of plastic bags in his wake… Thanks for more ideas!!

  • Meaghan

    thanks for sharing – I’m always looking for ideas for my two kids who don’t like sandwiches anymore (so frustrating). I love the sistema containers, have you used their mini dressing containers? I love them for dipping sauces or salsa.

  • Jen

    We have one picky eater who only likes hot foods. Sometimes I make something specially for lunch – like fried rice, chicken and egg noodles, or teriyaki chicken and rice. I make enough to last a couple days and heat up the day’s portion in the microwave before putting it in the thermos. Other times it’s leftovers of pasta or some special chicken and rice combo. We also found a new thermos a couple years ago that really does keep the food hot until lunchtime: Thermos Stainless King 16 Ounce Food Jar with Folding Spoon. Its a little heavy, but for bigger kids it’s great!

  • Vera from Lisbon (Portugal)

    Hi Tracy! I just loved the ‘leave a note’ idea. Actually, when thinking about it, I do it more often than I thought, mostly unconsciously I guess…
    Anyway, I just think how great it is to make somebody else feel special and a dedicated note definitely does the job! 🙂

  • Erika

    I love this. I don’t have kids, but I am totally going to use it for my own lunches. I have to work on packing more lunches for work instead of eating out so much.

    I was curious how you keep the apples or pears mentioned on your list from browning?

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