As Seen on KPRC Channel 2: 30 School Lunch Ideas to get the School Year Started Right!

” If you’ve already grown tired of the same old peanut butter and jelly sandwich before the first bell, we’re helping you mix it up. We’ve pulled 30 of the most interesting lunch ideas from Houston bloggers and parents. Grab your child’s lunchbox and feel free to steal these ideas!”

See the list from Amy Davis on KPRC2… including some of our lunches! Get it HERE!

School Lunch Box Ideas: No-Peanut Lunches & No-Sandwich Lunches Ideas!

Back to school means…  180 school day lunches, multiplied by 3 kids.

I love being a mom and I love having little kids and I know that packing a lunch is no real hardship… but I really don’t like it.  I spent years making the cutest bento boxes, followed by years of making boring old PB&Js…

How to Make Sushi for School Lunch with Chopsticks
This year I have a non-sandwich-eater at school and a kid in a no-peanut class.  With a little inspiration, I’m sure I can make lunches between super cute and super boring… so I asked the BigKidSmallCity community for suggestions.

This is what you told me.  Thank YOU!  (And if you have more ideas, let us know!)
Affiliate links included.

No-Peanut Sandwich Ideas:

  • Sunbutter: Made with sunflower seeds.  Check with your school, but this may be okay even if no nuts are allowed.
  • Wow Butter: Made with soy butter.  Check with your school, but this may be okay even if no nuts are allowed.
  • Honey Sesame Butter: Made with sesame seeds.  Check with your school, but this may be okay even if no nuts are allowed.
  • Nutella: Hazelnut spread (that some moms have been known to eat from the jar)
  • Almond Butter: Made with almonds.
  • Cream Cheese & Cucumber Sandwiches
  • Cheese, Meat and/or Veggie Sandwiches and Wraps
  • Cream Cheese & Jelly Sandwiches
  • Strawberry, Mayo, Turkey & Swiss Cheese Sandwiches!

No-Sandwich Lunch Ideas:

  • Quesadillas
  • Pasta Salad
  • Tacos/Burritos: Use Shredded Rotisserie Chicken and/or Veggies
  • Fruit & Cheese Plate:  Serve with Crackers or Pita Chips.
  • Hummus, Pita & Crudités
  • Cracker Sandwiches: Turkey Pepperoni, Salami with Cheese
  • Pasta “Muffins”
  • Zucchini Muffins: Freeze them… and they thaw by lunch.
  • Soup: Send in a thermos.
  • Dinner!: Send last night’s dinner in a thermos!  Spaghetti and meatballs, Tortellini, Mac and Cheese, Chicken Tenders, Broccoli Cheese Nuggets, Pasta, Couscous, Quinoa, Enchiladas, etc
  • Bentos/Homemade “Lunchables”: Fruit, cheese cubes, meat/chicken/tuna, etc

You can also see the highlights of my (old) years of cute bentos HERE.

Find even more ideas on and also watch this ABC13 Segment from last fall…

Here are Pranika’s ideas for school lunches that are not sandwiches!  (And everyone always asks about her lunch boxes… the links are HERE!)

As Seen on ABC13: 5 Lunchbox Ideas that Don’t Include Sandwiches

It’s back to school and back to school lunches!  If you need some easy ideas that don’t included sandwiches, watch Pranika on ABC13!

Thanks to Kat Cosley for working with BigKidSmallCity for lunch box ideas!

Also, the most popular quesiton of the day is… what kind of lunch boxes is Pranika using? They are: YumboxBentgoPlanetboxLunchbot.

Only 9 More Lunches to Pack + A Half-Hearted Apology to my Kids on Lunch #711

There are 180 days in a school year, all of which require me to pack a lunch. Now on my 4th year of school lunches, and on lunch 711, I would like to issue a half-hearted apology to my kids.

Dear Joe and Brooke –

Although my lunch making started out strong, with eggs the shape of cars and rice that looked like a super hero, you may have noticed the steady decline in the quality.

It all started at the 3.5 year mark, just after winter break 2013, with the onslaught of requests for help with homework, rides to after school activities, my boss wanting me to do my job and the baby wanting to wear clothes and eat each day. Your teachers will also note that this was about this time that I started to avoid eye contact and pretend I did not hear requests for volunteers. I can assure you all that it’s not that I don’t care about your lunch experience or your classes.

I actually care so much that I started the end-of-school count down timer on the first day of second semester. The smaller the number of days got, the more I celebrated, leaving me with less time for cutting out nori to look like a penguin face. And now that we have 9 days left, I am afraid that your lunches will look a lot like leftover Chinese take-out.

To commemorate the school year, let’s just review the progression of your lunches:

I started with homemade sushi and brightly colored veggies.

How to Make Sushi for School Lunch with Chopsticks
And made rice that looked like chicks.

Chicks Rice Balls
And was inspired by sprouts to make little people.

Rice Ball Faces with Sprout Hair
And made the occasional caterpillar.

And I’m sure you now find it hard to believe that I used to make eggs look like chicks in a nest of spaghetti squash.

Chicks in a Nest
And even my quesadillas were awesome.

Snake Quesadilla
And I actually used 4 pots (and cleaned 4 pots) to make rainbow noodles.

Rainbow Noodles
But really, you should have seen the end is sight, when I began making waffle sandwiches.

Waffle Sandwich with Animal Picks
And was sending you to school withe store bought Greek food.

Pita Bread Hummus and Grape Leaves

And then Cheerios became a side dish.

And that quickly got us to where we are now.

And no, with only 9 days of school left, I can’t even bring myself to make a peanut butter and jelly and please don’t ask me to peel a carrot.  For this, I half-heartedly apologize.  And remember that 1st semester of next year is sure to start off fantastic (before steadily declining to the point of leftover Chinese food).


Lunch Box Idea: Greek! Pita, Hummus & Stuffed Grape Leaves!

Each school day I pack my kids a fun lunch.  Over the last 3 years, I’ve made rice balls, sushi, shaped sandwiches, crazy eggs and just about anything I could imagine.

Maybe it’s how close we are to winter break, but last weekend I was out of ideas.  I told my friend Juliette that I really could not stand to make another week’s worth of the same lunch.  Being a good mom friend, she first sympathized with me and then suggested pitas and hummus.

And just like that, I was out of my slump and had enough lunch-making-energy to get through the last week before winter break.

Pita Bread Hummus and Grape Leaves

Brooke loves stuffed grape leaves and can eat them by the dozen. At Phoenicia I picked up some from the deli, along with pita bread and hummus.  I threw in some pistachios and a clementine and had a really good and really easy lunch.

Now it’s time for winter break and I’m going to enjoy two weeks of no-school-lunch-making!  And I’ll check out Pintrest to get some ideas for January.

Let Your Kids Make Their Own Sushi Bites for School Lunch!

Last week I showed you how to make sushi for school lunch.  This week the kids can make their own!

Make Your Own Sushi Lunch Box

Roasted Seaweed has been all over the grocery stores lately. My kids eat it as a snack and I cannot refill the pantry fast enough.  The seaweed is like the nori on sushi, but is crunchier and more flavorful.

Last week I found my son making his own sushi bites with leftover rice, veggies and seaweed… and we had a new lunch box idea!

To make it, I followed my rice ball instructions.  Just cook sushi rice and, if you want an easy shape, scoop it out of the rice cooker with this Heart Rice Spoon.

I put the rice in the lunch box with the roasted seaweed, sliced peppers and carrots and edamame.  In the lunch room, the kids were able to put together their little sushi bites as they ate!

How to Make Sushi for School Lunch Boxes!

Every school day I make a fun lunch for my kids.  By far, their favorite thing to pack is Sushi Rice.  They don’t really care if they get rice balls, sushi or just plain rice… as long as there is rice!

This week I made them sushi!

How to Make Sushi - Sliced Up Rolls

Sushi takes a little more work than the rice balls, but not more than 10 minutes of time.  And I assure you it takes very little skill.

Detailed instructions are HERE and a quick summary is below.

How to Make Sushi - Rice Nori Veggie and Bamboo

1.  Cook Sushi Rice in rice cooker.  It must be sushi or Japanese rice or it will not stick together!  I know because I’ve tried!
2. On a flat surface, lay out Bamboo Sushi Mat, a sheet of plastic wrap and Nori Sheet.
3. Use a wet spoon to spread rice over the Nori Sheet.
4. Make a line, near the edge of the nori, with your preferred filling. I used peppers.

How to Make Sushi - Rolled Up

5. Start to roll the bamboo mat and nori over the filling. With each turn, squeeze the mat tightly. Really squish the sushi rice together so it sticks the roll together like glue. Finish rolling.
6. Use a wet serrated knife to cut the roll. This is the trickiest part for me. Rinsing the knife helps to keep the rice from sticking.

How to Make Sushi for School Lunch with Chopsticks

I packed these rolls up with some fruit and veggies and Easy to Use Chopsticks.  And the kids loved them!


Our Favorite Rice Balls – “I Love School” Lunch Boxes

Each day I make a fun lunch for my kid’s lunch. By far, the favorite lunch is the rice ball.

I had seen the rice ball “sandwich” in packed lunches in Japan and decided to try it out.  This was just a ball of rice with fish or vegetables on the inside. Once I got my rice cooker and sticky rice, I quickly figured out that making fun shapes was very easy.

After some trial and error, I put together these instructions.  It’s really quite easy and the kids love the lunches.  You just need sushi rice and molds found on Amazon.  Go here to find the tools and tips.

Here are some of our favorite rice balls, all made the same way… Cook the rice, scoop it out with a mold and decorate it with vegetables or nori.

If you have questions, just ask!

Calterpilar Rice Ball

Rice Ball Faces with Sprout Hair
  [Read more…]

Send Eggs for School Lunch – Part of the “I Love School” Lunch Box Series

Each school day I make my kids a fun lunch.  I make rice balls and sushi, sandwiches and vegetables, but I never include meat.

A couple of years ago, my now 6 year old discovered where meat comes from.  He had known beef was from cows, but when he figured out that it wasn’t a “donation”, he swore he would never eat meat again.  And he was serious.

Joe has not eaten meat in years, be does love eggs.  If I hard boil a dozen eggs, I have to watch to be sure he doesn’t eat all of them in one sitting.

Assuming that I can stop the eggs from disappearing as soon as I make them, I like to send them for school lunch.  They add a little substance to our vegetarian lunches. And it’s easy to make eggs “fun”!

Here are some of my favorites:


Chicks in a Nest

For this chicks in a nest lunch, I sliced the eggs in half and added nori eyes and a carrot beak.  The nest was made with spaghetti squash.  Go HERE for more details on how to make it!

[Read more…]

Snake Quesadilla & Waffle Sandwich – “I Love School!” Lunch Boxes

Each school day I make fun school lunches for my kids.  It started in preschool when my son refused to stay for lunch bunch and I needed a bribe.  He never actually exclaimed, “I love school, I don’t want to go home!”, but he did agree to spend another couple hours at school.  I considered this a victory and have been making fun lunches ever since.

Snake QuesadillaEach lunch that I make takes less than 10 minutes and requires very little skill.  I make a lot of rice balls but switched it up a couple days this week.

The first lunch was the snake quesadilla.  I used cheese and tortillas to make a quick quesadilla in the microwave.  Once it cooled, I cut a spiral starting at the outside of the tortilla.

I used Food Markers to make the scales and face.  I added a thin slice of carrot for the tongue.

On the side I added carrots, cut with flower Vegetable Cutters, Roasted Seaweed and my super fancy trail mix (which includes anything I find in the pantry, like Cheerios and raisins).

Waffle Sandwich with Animal PicksI was pretty impressed with my work on this snake lunch.  But it came back untouched by my kids.  Apparently I made the same mistake I made on my Spaghetti Squid lunch.  Too scary.

Needing my next lunch to be a sure-thing, I went with the waffle sandwich.

This is very easy to make with waffles, Nutella and jam.  Any spread would be okay, but we have to avoid peanuts at school.  And my kids are more than happy to take a Nutella sandwich to school!

I added some Food Picks to make it more fun.

This lunch won me rave reviews.  Some times the simplest things…

Now I’m off to Pintrest for simple, non-scary, ideas for next week!