Whether you’re packing a school lunch or something for your kids to nibble on during a road trip, it can be hard to keep it varied and come up with kid-friendly lunchbox ideas that aren’t a total yawn (sorry PB&J…). And while the foods that are marketed as kid-friendly in the grocery store might be tasty to your little one, they’re usually expensive, wrapped in single-use plastics, and not very nutritious. So what’s a lunchbox chef to do?
Read on for some super fun DIY recipes that will help you switch it up when it comes to your kids’ lunches – and help keep single-use packaging out of our oceans and landfills. (Hint: endlessly reusable Stasher bowls and bags may have something to do with it.)
At the top of our packable-lunch list? One-Bowl Wonders! While you may have heard of one-pot meals (cooking an entire meal in just one pot or pan), Stasher One-Bowl Wonders take things up a notch. Using a Stasher bowl, you can prep, cook, store, and transport your little one’s lunch in a single container without having to make other dirty dishes in the process. (Cue: biodegradable confetti.)
One-Bowl “Baked” Potato
Great for busy nights or afternoons on-the-go, this microwavable potato recipe works perfectly in a Stasher bowl. Opt for a 6-Cup Bowl or 8-Cup Bowl for a full potato (depending on the spud’s size), or a 4-Cup Bowl for chunks of small red or white potatoes. After cooking, drop in shredded cheese, greek yogurt or sour cream, and whatever veggies you have on hand.
The beauty of microwavable pasta is that it’s as endlessly customizable as Stasher bowls are endlessly reusable. Once you’ve cooked and drained your pasta in a 4-Cup Bowl, you can add cheese and milk for mac & cheese, butter and parmesan, pesto, marinara, Alfredo sauce… You name it! Top with grated parmesan and cherry tomatoes.
One-Bowl Pasta Salad
You can also use that trusty microwavable pasta recipe for pasta salad! After cooking and draining the pasta in a 4-Cup Bowl, give the pasta a rinse with cold water. Drain it, and then set the bag in the fridge while you chop some veggies like carrots, celery, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, or bell peppers. Toss the chopped veggies into the Stasher bowl with your cold pasta and add a squeeze of lemon juice, parmesan cheese or bits of mozzarella, and whatever salad dressing you have on hand. Then just seal the bag and give it a shake!
Finger Food Fruit & Veg Snacks
If your kids are fans of finger foods (who isn’t?!), you can mix and match the following snacks, which are super nutritious and packed full of vitamins and minerals. Chopping and packing finger foods into Stasher bags is also a great way for your kids to get involved in the DIY lunchbox crudite fun.
- Cherries (halved and pitted)
- Pineapple chunks
- Apple slices (add some lemon juice and give the bag a shake – the acidity of the lemon prevents the apples from browning)
- Carrot sticks or baby carrots
- Celery sticks with peanut butter
- Red pepper slices
- Cherry tomatoes
- Snap peas
- Cucumber slices or mini cucumbers
Customizable, transportable in a Stasher bag, and super filling, wraps are great lunchbox ideas that you can enjoy hot or cold. All of the foods in this section make for excellent wrap fillings, but there are endless possibilities, so get creative!
- Sliced turkey, chunks of roasted chicken, or bacon
- Roasted chickpeas
- Black beans (bean burritos, anyone?)
- Lettuce, spinach, or arugula
- Bell peppers
- Avocado (be sure to add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice on the avocado slices or mash to avoid browning)
- Shredded cheddar cheese or feta cheese crumbles
- Tzatziki sauce
Homemade Trail Mix
Homemade trail mix is one of our go-to lunchbox ideas because it’s easy to make, nutritious, and super snackable! You can also switch up the ingredients for variety and based on what you have on hand. All of the foods in this section are great trail mix add-ins, but if you’re packing a school lunch, be sure to check your child’s school’s allergy restrictions or nut policy.
- Raisins, dried cranberries, or dried blueberries
- Chocolate chips
- Freeze-dried strawberry slices
- Banana chips
- Dried apple chunks
- Dried goji berries
- Nuts like almonds, cashews, peanuts, and macadamia nuts
- Pepita seeds
- Homemade granola
Not sure where to start? Check out these nine homemade trail mix recipes, plus a great idea for getting kids involved in the mix-making!
Homemade Vegetable Chips
If you have an air fryer, consider air frying your own vegetable chips for a crunchy, tasty snack. All foods listed here are air-fryer friendly and easily transportable for lunchtime in a Stasher Snack Bag. And as an added bonus, homemade veggie chips are a lot healthier than store bought ones while also letting you skip the single-use packaging.
- Potato chips
- Sweet potato chips
- Carrot chips
- Kale chips
- Parsnip chips
- Beet chips
- Zucchini chips
- Snow pea chips
- Asparagus chips
Homemade Sweet Treats
What’s a lunch without a sweet treat? Store-bought sweets tend to have high sugar content, are wrapped in plastic, and don’t taste all that fresh. So we’re big fans of DIY baked treats, which can be customized to your kids’ nutritional needs and can easily slide into a trusty Stasher Sandwich Bag. The foods in this section are ideas to get you started, but the sky’s the limit.
- Banana bread muffins or loaf slices
- Simple granola bars
- Blueberry crumble slices
- Chocolate-covered fruit
- Chocolate chip pumpkin muffins
- Oatmeal cookies
- Chocolate-covered pretzels
- Zucchini bread
Happy lunch-packing! We hope your kids enjoy these lunchbox ideas as much as we have — and don’t forget to taste-test everything yourself, too.