My kids usually eat lunch from the school cafeteria. (Thankfully our school has strict requirements about choosing fruits and vegetables.) But every once in a while, they want a good old lunch packed by Mom.

I’m the first to admit that I am NOT crafty or cute when it comes to putting a school lunch together. Which is why I turn to other blogs for ideas of healthy lunch options.

But the reality is, I don’t have time to scroll through hundreds of lunchbox pictures (helpful as they are), compare them to what’s in MY kitchen, and match it all with what my kids will actually eat.

This is what prompted me to create the tools I’m offering today.

I discovered that the secret to packing healthy lunches my kids will actually eat is giving them choices. They love seeing the school’s lunch menu posted on our refrigerator door, looking at the options ahead of time, and deciding what they’ll pick that day.

So I thought, “Why can’t I do the same thing at home?” This led to hours of research on the internet. I scoured Pinterest and other moms’ blogs to create a comprehensive list of lunch food options. Then I separated them into food groups and assigned suggested quantities for each.

I also created a one-page “Lunch Menu” for my kids to fill out the night before school. The day before, I complete the lines with what I have available in my kitchen and hand the paper to my kids. Then they mark their choices and give it back to me before bed so I can start packing.

All of this started out as an experiment, but it ended up being a HUGE success.

If you’d like to try this system for yourself, I’m offering two free downloads. (Just click the links below the photo, and the PDF files will open. You can then save or print.)


First is the master list of lunchbox options. I keep one printed and handy for easy reference. Second is the menu printable. (Prints in landscape, not portrait.) When I fill this out, I grab the lunchbox options and use it to custom-create my kids’ menus.

Here’s an example of what the menu looks like when I hand it to my kids. (If the picture looks blurry, try clicking on it to open in a new window.)


I hope you find these tools helpful! If you’re past the stage of packing lunches for kiddos, maybe these will spark ideas to make your own lunch healthier.

Happy packing!

P.S. – For the mother-lode of lunch food ideas and storage tools, I highly recommend these two sites: What Lisa Cooks and 100 Days of Real Food.


Free Printables: School Lunch Menu + Lunchbox Toolkit