How to Master the Lunchbox

This is a partnered post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I’ve been making school lunches for about seven years now and I can proudly say that the school lunches I make now are nothing like the lunches I made seven years ago. Since I’ve learned some things along the way, I wanted to share these tips for how to master the lunchbox!

Learn how to master the lunchbox and give your kids a school lunch they'll love.

How to Master the Lunchbox

Make it colorful: Over the years I’ve learned that my children eat with their eyes first. If they see something bright and colorful (and slightly resembles candy — hello blueberries and grapes) they are more likely to eat it. When I’m packing lunches I try to remember all the colors of the rainbow. I very rarely get all seven colors of the rainbow, but I’m happy with three or four.

Give them variety: Kids are anything but boring and they don’t want their lunch to be boring either. Instead of a bag of chips, ham sandwich and an apple, give them smaller portions of many foods. Try to remember the different food groups as well.

Pack plenty of protein: Kids need fuel to make it through the school day. While their brains are busy learning and their bodies are busy growing, they run out of fuel quickly. Give them a mid-day jump start with protein-rich foods. Good examples are string cheese, greek yogurt, and deli chicken.

Make it pretty or cool: My kids lunches are anything but boring. From the bright colorful lunch box to the bright colorful foods, their lunches are pretty or cool — depending on who you ask. Use colorful silicone cups or bright plastic skewers. Small touches make a huge difference. See what bento supplies I use for our lunches.

Have them help make it: My kids like being in the kitchen and I’ve learned that they’ll usually eat what they help make. It not only teaches them kitchen skills, but it gives them pride in what they’ve helped make. Learn how to master the lunchbox and give your kids a school lunch they'll love.

While I was learning how to master the lunchbox, there was a lot of trial and error. What works for me might not work for you and vice-versa. But I think it’s important to remember our children depend on us to provide them with a lunch that gives them fuel for their school day.

Learn how to master the lunchbox and give your kids a school lunch they'll love.

Feel free to think outside of the lunchbox. My kids love cheese and meat threaded onto a skewer. They also like greek yogurt so I like to spice it up a little by adding in mix-ins like cinnamon, Crainsins Fruit Clusters, or sprinkles.

Learn how to master the lunchbox and give your kids a school lunch they'll love.

When I’m making a school lunch for my children, making sure that it offers some nutritional value is most important to me. But I also need to make sure that they will actually eat it. I could send asparagus and collard greens all day long, but if they don’t actually eat it, I’ve accomplished nothing. So really, the key to mastering the lunchbox is finding what healthy foods your children will eat and packing those. Work to find more and then include those in the rotation.

Learn how to master the lunchbox and give your kids a school lunch they'll love.

In this lunch I packed chicken & cheese skewers, a clementine (with a cute leaf food pick), Ocean Spray Craisins, blueberries, green grapes, greek yogurt with Ocean Spray Fruit Clusters, and an Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice. Most days my children get a bottle of water, but Friday’s are treat days and they get something extra special.

They really really love Fridays.

Are you a lunchbox master?

Share your best lunchbox tips and tricks using the hashtag, “#LunchboxMaster” on Twitter! When you share, you’ll be entered to win an Ocean Spray(R) Ultimate Master Lunchbox Set. Contest ends September 18th. Visit for inspiration to help you master the lunchbox! Whether you are refueling a family of five or just yourself, Ocean Spray has tips, recipes and nutritious offerings that will help you become a lunchbox packing pro.

What do you pack in your child’s lunch? I’m always looking for new ideas.

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35 thoughts on “How to Master the Lunchbox”

  1. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says:

    I am loving all of your tips! I think a good variety is key!

  2. Pam says:

    Variety is so important. When my kids were little that helped them eat a lot.

  3. Michelle F. says:

    That i such a cute lunch idea. I have to make my daughter’s lunches look pretty in order for her to eat them : )

  4. Marcie W. says:

    We do our best to pack our children well balanced lunches and include a variety of items, but are far from actual masters. I would like to explore the world of bentos a bit more!

  5. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ve been a mom for years, and I still haven’t mastered the lunchbox. LOL

  6. Theresa says:

    These are great lunchbox ideas! I love how you have everything packed in there so cute too!

  7. Lindsey says:

    Red’s school serves lunch everyday, but next year I’ll be ready to stuff his lunchbox full of his favorites!

  8. Jeanine says:

    I often go all out in my kids lunches. They love it though. This all looks pretty amazing!

  9. Ann Bacciaglia says:

    This is the first year i do not have to pack lunches anymore. Both of my kids are in College now. I used to love getting creative when i was making lunches.

  10. Toni | BoulderLocavore says:

    I want you to make MY lunch! I love everything you packed and am obsessed with the heart picks you used!

  11. Debra says:

    My parents live with us and my mom has been packing my daughter’s lunch. I am honestly so glad. Makes life so easy!

  12. Stephanie R says:

    These are some really great tips! Whenever I packed lunches for my kids I always made sure to add variety because it kept things interesting for not only my kids but also for myself whenever packing them.

  13. Shannon Gurnee says:

    Looks like a really yummy lunch box! I bet it’s lots of fun for the kids to eat too!

  14. Christie says:

    I love how you organized your box! Dried fruit is a great way to make sure your kids get enough wholesome snacks through the day

  15. Stacey says:

    I love those heart-shaped skewers! Such a fun way to pack in your protein.

  16. Chrystal | YUM eating says:

    What a fun lunchbox! All great advice. I had planned on making kiddo lunch this year, but she was given the free school lunch program and thankfully, our school has really healthy options.

  17. Daisy says:

    So, I was searching for ideas because my son’s school has a rule to eat lunch and throw out anything that you don’t finish. He keeps “not finishing” and throwing out his broccoli, sandwich, and pretty much anything that isn’t “fun” to eat. I am going to visit lunch with him this week to sit while he eats and try to improve the situation, but I definitely also want to make sure that his lunches are appealing! I like your tip to incorporate variety!

  18. Patty says:

    I love the sandwich on a skewer idea. I’m sure your kids just love to open their lunch every day. Lots of great tips in your post.

  19. Katie says:

    I wish I could get my daughter to take her lunch to school. She insists on hot lunch, and I’m so not a fan of it. I’ve been following your lunch posts for a while and you truly are a master!

  20. Jamie H says:

    I am learning to be a lunch box master. Each year gets a little better with creativity!

  21. Tonya says:

    I am not a lunch box master, but I love all the creativity that goes into packing a nutritious lunch. These ideas are great.

  22. Karen says:

    That lunch looks amazing! I would eat it, and ask for more.

  23. Liz Mays says:

    Letting them help is a great idea. Sometimes it’s fun to throw in a surprise after they think the lunch is done.

  24. Danielle K says:

    I’m new to packing lunches so I definitely need some tips. My son is still pretty picky at age 4, so hopefully as he gets a little less so I can make him some fun, cool lunches ?

  25. Allison says:

    I love these tips! I can certainly use them to give my son more creative options at lunch time!

  26. Ourfamilyworld says:

    That lunch box looks so pretty and yummy! I am always on the look out for school lunch ideas. Thank you for sharing this.

  27. Alicia says:

    This is such a cute idea. My kids prefer to buy lunch at school, so unless they want me to pack their lunch I don’t. I like to though.

  28. Amber Edwards says:

    Now you know how to serve up an awesome lunch box! My kids would love one of yours! I always struggle packing a lunch box. But I do well with making sure there is protein, but struggle with the other things.

  29. Sara P. (@SensiblySara) says:

    My kids make their own lunches these days – and that’s so much easier for me! But I do like to surprise them once in awhile with a mom-made lunch. I love those sandwich skewers and the Fruit Clusters for lunches.

  30. Tammileetips says:

    These are great ideas for lunches!! I make my husband lunch quite often, I may have to do the Greek yogurt with add ins for him.

  31. Shell Feis says:

    Those skewers are so cute! Thank you for the tips, I’ve been trying to keep my son interested in his lunch in the hopes that he’ll actually eat it!

  32. HilLesha says:

    I’ll pack a Lunchable every now and then since that’s what my son prefers (he is such a picky eater). However, I love these ideas, too!

  33. Amanda says:

    I love all of your tips! I need to get better at making my son’s lunch more colorful and a little more fun!

  34. Onica (MommyFactor) says:

    Lota of great tips for those who have to packba school lunch. I agree getting the kids to help is “helpful”.

  35. Jennifer says:

    This is so great! I wish I’d had this to look at when my daughter was taking her lunch to school. My lunchboxes were extremely boring.

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