Jessie’s Ultimate Lunchbox Resource (FREE!)

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Jessie's Ultimate Lunchbox Resource |

I’ve been packing and sharing bento-style lunch boxes for my kids for over three years now. Every time I share a picture on Facebook or Instagram, I get a lot of, “Can you come make my lunch?” “How do you do this?”

If you know me at all, you know I wouldn’t do it unless it were pretty easy.

I love getting a little creative with my kids’ lunches, and they truly seem to appreciate it. I’m not great at many parenting things (playing on the floor, for example), but I love food and I want my kids to like good foods, too.

We’re working on that. They are all fairly picky eaters, which I’m sure you can tell from these lunch pictures.

My lunches certainly aren’t all healthy or homemade foods. They are just foods my kids will eat, the best I can do, with a little dose of fun.

So I’ve put together this PDF with pictures of 60 of our lunches, outlining what’s in each one, links to recipes if the items are homemade, and some how-to recipes throughout. They are all packed in either a PlanetBox Rover or a BentoGo Kids box. It also has a recipe index, links to all the tools I use in packing lunches, and a letter from me that might answer some of your questions.

And I’m giving it to you for free, because I want you all to be able to pack great lunches, too! I hope this will be a resource you can peek at if you are lacking in lunch box inspiration and just need a fresh idea that won’t take long to throw together.

Click here to open the PDF! (If you want to download and open in Adobe, you may need to right-click and pick “download linked file.”)

Jessie’s Ultimate Lunchbox Resource

Some More Lunches for Picky Eaters

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See more ideas: A Week of Lunches for a Picky Eater and More Lunches for Your Picky Eater.

I usually share these inspiration photos on my Facebook page, but if you don’t see them (because FB stinks about that) or you aren’t on FB, I wanted to share them here, too! I have a fairly picky kindergartner, so these are my experiments in trying to get her to eat a variety of healthy-ish foods.


Homemade pizza pockets, Cutie clementine, Craisins, cheese stick, and one mini Oreo.


Wrap with ham and cheese on a whole-wheat tortilla, apple slices, Chobani “drink yogurt,” and Beet Cookie and Honey-Cinnamon Popcorn from the Weelicious cookbook. (I made the Beet Cookies in heart shapes and letters for David’s preschool snack – everyone had one R for the letter of that week and the first letter of their first name. It was a big hit!)


Turkey (I either buy Aldi’s nitrate-free or the Hormel Natural Choice lunchmeats), cheese stick, Honey Cinnamon Popcorn, strawberries, Pizza Poppers.


Bake-fried chicken thigh (leftover from dinner), strawberry smoothie with hidden spinach frozen in the silicone mold, pretzel twists, fruit snack, mandarin oranges, and a Yum Earth hard candy.


Inspired by 100 Days of Real Food, these are homemade pizza lunchables. I made pizza crust and cut it into rectangles, froze homemade pizza sauce in a silicone mini-muffin pan (then popped them into a big freezer bag), and added mozzarella and mini pepperonis in silicone muffin liners. Recipes for the pizza crust and sauce are in Weelicious Lunches, although I think you can find similar ones on the Weelicious site. (There’s also a Cutie along with the pizza.)

I realize these are certainly not jam-packed with vegetables or maybe even your idea of a balanced lunch. Or maybe you think I’m an insane mom. Whatever. We all do what works for us, right? I am totally in favor of staying sane. Packing lunch is one area where I like to be creative. Cleaning and organizing? TOTALLY not my thing, but I am glad if it’s yours!

I hope this helps you with some ideas for your picky eater’s lunchbox.

More Lunches for Your Picky Eater

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I keep getting good feedback on my shares of Libbie’s picky-kid lunches on Facebook, so I hope these give you inspiration that your child doesn’t have to eat the same lunch every day!

These are PlanetBox Rover lunchboxes.

See other ideas in this post. (And people, I am keeping it real here. Sometimes I send processed foods. Sometimes I don’t. It’s life here.)


Pancake sandwich with peanut butter and banana slices; pumpkin spice marshmallows; half a banana; mini cheddar pretzel crips; Chobani banana “gogurt”; a few mini M&Ms.


Apple sandwich with PBJ and craisin/currant face stuck on with peanut butter; apple slices; cheese cubes; Polenta Blueberry Muffin; craisins, dried apricots, and white chocolate chips. (Both muffins and apple sandwich from Weelicious Lunches.)


PBJ cut with a pumpkin cookie cutter and with candy eyes; red pear slices; cheddar cheese spelling “BOO”; pumpkin marshmallows; peanuts; fruit leather; and silly Halloween jokes (free printable).


This was definitely an “I need to go to the store and am in a major hurry” lunch! Peanut butter on graham cracker; applesauce in the little dipper container; raisins; Peanut Noodles with Chicken; frozen blueberries.


Grilled cheese rolls (Weelicious Lunches); shredded chicken; apple slices; trail mix of pretzels, yogurt-covered raisins, and chocolate-covered peanuts; yogurt.


Tortilla chips with shredded cheese; trail mix of raisins, cashews, and white chocolate chips; banana; two slices ham. (I know it seems weird, but Libbie LOVES chips-and-cheese like this. Not melted or anything.)


This was David’s lunch one day – he is my less-picky kid! PBJ cut with a star sandwich cutter; carrots two ways (coins and sticks); ranch dip; black grapes; frozen turkey.

Do you try to mix it up at lunchtime? What recipe is your favorite to send? I am always looking for some new ideas.

A Week of Lunches (for a Picky Eater)

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I’ve been sharing Libbie’s lunches this week on my Facebook page. I love getting inspiration for lunches, as I want my kids to enjoy a variety of foods. With Libbie being a fairly “selective” eater (ahem), it can be a little bit of a struggle. And it feels like most of the lunches I see on Facebook or Pinterest either involve lots of foods she wouldn’t eat or things that would take me two hours to assemble. Which is cool, if that’s your thing! But it’s not mine.

So in hope of giving you inspiration, here are Libbie’s lunches from this past week, with recipe links. For those of you who have also seen these on Facebook – would you rather see them in a weekly digest like this or with the daily pictures or both? I’ve enjoyed conversing this week on FB about lunch foods and freezing tips!


Monday : Maple Roasted Turkey, cheese cubes, apple slices, half a banana, pretzels, no-food-dye candy pieces from EarthFare. I toss the apples in water with a little lemon juice so they don’t brown.


Tuesday: Ham and cheese sandwich on homemade wheat bread, more Maple Turkey, tortilla strips, golden melon balls, grapes, and a few mini marshmallows.


Wednesday: Cheese stick, whole wheat strawberry-cinnamon baked doughnut, raisins, apple slices, pepperoni muffins (my kids do not like this … now I know), and a slice of the turkey.


Bonus: this was David’s lunch on Wednesday. He is my less-picky eater. He had a cheese stick, a sliced peach, and Banana Bread Pancakes. He does eat a snack before lunch at school, so he’s not as hungry at lunchtime.


Thursday: Ham, cheese, and Italian bread “kebabs”; fruit and cereal bar; trail mix made from raisins, craisins, peanuts, and chocolate pieces; Spinach Cake Muffins; grapes.


Friday: Homemade spaghetti-o-penne with cut-up hot dog, the same Spinach Cake Muffins she didn’t eat yesterday, banana, raisins. The spaghetti-o’s recipe I use is from the Once a Month meals Survive Before 5 e-book. It’s similar to this one, but different enough that I keep going back to the original in the e-book.

So are you a lunch-packer? Does your kid buy? Do you send the same thing every day or try to mix it up a bit?

Toddler Thai: Noodles in Peanut Sauce with Chicken

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I’ve really been struggling lately with what to pack David for lunch. He is 16 months old and goes to a Mother’s Day Out program twice a week. He’s also lactose intolerant—he can eat yogurt and baked goods, but dairy milk and cheese give him incredibly awful gas pains. If you’ve been a long-time follower, you might remember I had to go dairy-free for a few LONG months during his early nursing time as well.

Thankfully the dairy products I ingest no longer seem to bother him (he’s still nursing, but only 1-2 times a day). But when it comes to feeding my sweetie boy, I’ve had to be more creative than I ever was with Libbie. (Which is not hard, considering she ate only bread, cheese, and bananas for about 6 months.)

David is also underweight and just went through a bunch of tests to make sure there was no underlying problem. Nope … just genetics is our guess. Mr. V and I are both short, and Mr. V just has a small frame, too. His dad and sister are the same way.

All that to say, it’s hard to find cheese-free lunch options for a baby that also pack in fat—and that he will eat! My kids have always been fans of peanut butter, though, so I’m hopeful these Thai Peanut Noodles will be a hit. The itty-bitty pastas are too cute for them not to love!

Toddler Thai Noodles in Peanut Sauce with Chicken

Yield: 4 toddler servings

Serving Size: 3/4 cup

Toddler Thai Noodles in Peanut Sauce with Chicken


  • 1 c. mini noodles, such as Barilla piccolini mini-penne
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked (see my method below)
  • 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 3 to 4 T ponzu sauce or soy sauce
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 T finely grated carrot


Boil noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Sear and saute chicken breast (you can also boil or bake it, but it will be less flavorful). I cooked my chicken in a cast-iron pan with ponzu sauce, and just kept adding more sauce as it evaporated. The sauce glazed the chicken nicely as it cooked.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together peanut butter, ponzu sauce, honey, sesame oil, and grated carrot. You can substitute soy sauce for ponzu sauce; if you do, you might add a squeeze of citrus to the pan for extra flavor. Ponzu is a sauce made with soy and lime or lemon juice.

Combine cooked noodles and sauce. If needed, you can thin out sauce with more ponzu/soy or some of the pasta water.

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to pasta.

For freezing, divide into 1-cup containers. Defrost and reheat in the microwave for 1 minute, until hot.

You can make this gluten-free as well as dairy-free by using gluten-free soy or tamari sauce and gluten-free pasta, or substitute rice.