12 Healthy Lunch Box Ideas for Kids or Adults

12 Healthy Lunch Box Ideas for Kids or Adults that are simple, wholesome, and meatless – no sandwiches included!

School started last week for my kids, and I’m equal parts sad to have them gone all day and excited to get back into a routine and have a little more structure in my week. Getting organized at back to school time includes meal planning, recommitting to eating wholesome food (which is needed after a summer of fun/travel/vacations/parties/reunions), and figuring out school lunch box ideas again.

I LOVE school lunch box packing and I thought I’d share yet another post this year with new ideas to help get a great lunch in the box in no time flat. We all need more ideas when it comes to school lunches, but these also work great as lunch box ideas for adults to take to work. Just up the portion if you need to!

12 Healthy Lunch Box Ideas for Kids or Adults that are simple, wholesome, and meatless - no sandwiches included! These are perfect for back-to-school!

Aren’t they pretty? I can’t wait to share some of the details about how to make all 12 of these lunch box ideas today.

Tips and Tricks for the Lunch Box Ideas:

  • I have been using Easy Lunch Boxes for 4 school years now (heading into our 5th year!), and I still love them. I bought them when my oldest went to Kindergarten and just got a second set! They are a great size, easy to clean, and the kids can get the lids on and off themselves. Plus, I just saw they now sell them at Target! They also make great little snack trays for movie night (popcorn in the big spot, candies in the little ones!)
  • If you have little kids below school age, it’s nice to make their lunch box (and yours!) in the morning when you are making the other lunches. I just stick the little boys’ lunches in the fridge and then lunch is done for everyone, even the ones at home!
  • Have your kids help you decide what they want for lunch and get them involved in the prep/packing. When my kids have a little say in their lunch, they are much more likely to eat it.
  • If you have a nut-free school (ours is not), try sun butter (made from sunflower seeds) in place of peanut butter, and omit any nuts.
  • To cut down on morning prep time, make a veggie box and have the kids take from it for their lunches.

Lunch Box Ideas - Boiled Egg Lunch Box

Boiled Egg Lunch Box

  • Boiled eggs
  • Seeded crackers
  • Veggies (tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, broccoli)
  • Almonds + chocolate chips
  • Grapes

First up, the forever easy boiled egg. Feel free to peel them ahead of time for your kids if they need the help, but my kids like do to it themselves. You just can’t go wrong boiled eggs in my book. They are a well-rounded fat/protein source and my kids love them for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

Lunch Box Ideas - Pancake Sandwich Lunch Box

Pancake “Sandwich” Lunch Box

  • Mini pancakes with nut butter + banana slices inside to make a sandwich
  • Cucumbers
  • Fresh berries
  • Almonds + chocolate chips
  • Mandarin orange

I know I promised you sandwich-free lunch box ideas, but I don’t think pancake sandwiches count. My kids love it when I make little sandwiches out of peanut butter, banana, and pancakes. They are the perfect little finger food that’s fun to eat. I just make a double batch of whole wheat pancakes one morning and use half of it to make mini pancakes for lunches. Easy, fun, and always a win in the school lunch department.

Lunch Box Ideas - Burrito Bowl Lunch Box

Burrito Bowl Lunch Box

  • Rice + black beans + roasted sweet potatoes + fresh salsa
  • Almonds + chocolate chips
  • Grapes

Long live the burrito bowl! You can really play with this idea to fit your needs and your child’s preferences. I cook up the rice and roast my sweet potatoes on my meal prep day and then just open a can of black beans as needed. I like to mix in a little salt, cumin, and chili powder with the black beans so that they taste more like taco filling. A little fresh salsa on top brings it all together. Sometimes my kids like cheese, lettuce, or ranch dressing on this too. A wedge of lime in the box to squeeze before serving is always fun too.

Lunch Box Ideas - Pesto Pasta Lunch Box

Easy Pesto Pasta Salad Lunch Box

  • Cooked pasta + pesto + chopped tomato
  • Chocolate chips + almonds
  • Blueberries

This super simple pasta salad can be made easily in the morning because it’s only three ingredients. You can use leftover pasta if you have it, or you can cook some up while the kids eat breakfast. I normally just cook it the morning of because I’m standing at the stove making a hot breakfast most mornings anyhow. If that won’t work for your schedule, cook the pasta up ahead of time or simply prepare extra when you are cooking pasta for dinner and save some for lunches. Just stir the pasta with some prepared pesto and top with tomatoes. It’s simple, but it’s always a hit at my house.

Lunch Box Ideas - Corn and Bean Chip Dip Lunch Box

Corn and Bean Chip Dip Lunch Box

  • Corn and Bean Salad
  • Salsa
  • Tortilla chips
  • Mixed berries

Corn and Bean Salad/Chip Dip is super easy to make and my kids love it. Just add canned corn, rinsed black beans, and chopped tomato to a small bowl and season with salt, pepper, and lime juice. Sometimes I’ll mix in cilantro or some pico de gallo if I have it. Simple, simple, simple, but so fun to dip corn chips into. Add a side of salsa and some fruit, and you are ready to roll.

Lunch Box Ideas - Apple Sandwich Lunch Box

Apple Sandwich Lunch Box

Apple sandwiches are always hit in our house. You just cut an apple horizontally into slices, top with nut butter, and add another slice. My kids don’t mind if the apple is brown at lunch, but if yours do you might want to give them a dunk in some lemon water before adding the nut butter (the nut butter doesn’t stick to wet apples though, so you’ll want to dry them off with a paper towel first). You can also add chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips, a little Nutella, or granola to your apple sandwich. I used to cut out the core but my kids either eat it all or nibble around it, so do what’s best for you.

Lunch Box Ideas - Yogurt Parfait Lunch Box

Yogurt Parfait Lunch Box

  • Yogurt (store bought or homemade)
  • Mixed berries
  • Strawberries + almonds
  • Granola (store bought or homemade)

So easy! You are going to love this simple yogurt bar idea because it takes no time to put together. If I’m sending homemade yogurt I normally put it in my favorite one cup (half pint) little canning jars with a lid. I use these all the time, and they are perfect for sending homemade yogurt to school. Or if you buy your yogurt in a big tub, they are great for sending a smaller serving in – they don’t leak but kids can get the lids off. Win!

Lunch Box Ideas - DIY Pizza Kit Lunch Box

DIY Pizza Kit Lunch Box

  • Pita
  • Tomatoes + mushrooms + bell peppers
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Dried pineapple + grapes

My kids love this meal (even though “pizza” like this isn’t my jam) and they are always happy to have it. I get my pita bread from Costco and it’s really good (plus it freezes well so it’s easy to keep on hand). You can chop up the veggies a bit so that they can be pizza toppings or the kids can just eat them on the side. My two oldest dip their veggies in the tomato sauce and eat them, how weird is that. Pizza is always a hit and this easy pizza kit is a simple way to get those kids some pizza.

Lunch Box Ideas - Banana Sushi Lunch Box

Banana “Sushi” Lunch Box

  • Banana Sushi
  • Carrots + tomatoes + cucumber + cauliflower and/or broccoli
  • Chocolate chips + almonds

To make banana sushi, simply spread nut butter on a tortilla, place a banana on one edge and roll it up. Slice it with a sharp knife into rolls or “sushi” pieces. This is also the world’s easiest toddler snack and we make it often. Why is banana and peanut butter so good?

Lunch Box Ideas - Hummus Lunch Box

Hummus Lunch Box

  • Hummus
  • Curry roasted chickpeas
  • Pita
  • Veggies such as peppers, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, and/or cauliflower
  • Dried pineapple

This is a dip-all-the-things in hummus lunch box and it’s a lot of fun to eat. Have you made roasted chickpeas yet?! My kids love them and they are cheap and easy to make. You can make them ahead of time and keep them in the fridge until you are ready to serve them. Sometimes my kids will make little sandwiches with hummus and roasted chickpeas on the pitas, but most of the time they just eat this like a happy little finger food lunch.

Lunch Box Ideas - Breakfast for Lunch Box

Breakfast for Lunch Box

  • Mini whole wheat pancakes
  • Maple syrup
  • Blackberries + raspberries + blueberries
  • Yogurt (store bought or homemade)

Long live breakfast for lunch! Again, I just make a double batch of pancakes one morning and make half of them into mini pancakes for lunch. They store well in the fridge and my kids think its fun to have breakfast for lunch.

Ta-da! There you have a dozen new lunch box ideas to get your school year started off with a bang. Those lunch boxes were all meatless and not one included a traditional sandwich. I hope you find them helpful. You got this mama!

PS. Don’t forget to tag a picture #blessthismesseats on Instagram. I love to see your lunch box ideas in action!

PSS. If you need even more lunch box ideas this lunch box idea post is similar and super popular but with 8 more awesome, easy, healthy lunches.

Lunch Box Ideas

Fruit Pizza Cookies and a Trip to the Farm!

Festive fruit pizza sugar cookies are made with super soft sour cream sugar cookies and a simple cream cheese frosting, and then piled high with seasonal fruit.

Today I’m working with Organic Valley, and I have so much to share with you! This post shares my experience visiting one of their organic dairy farms just outside of Portland, Oregon, as well as a recipe for delicious fruit pizza sugar cookies. I’m excited to share both of them with you today.

I have to start by saying that the trip to Cloud-Cap Farms was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to go. The cool thing is, the day I visited the farm it was open to the public, so anyone could come. Organic Valley products are something I’ve used and loved for awhile now, but I knew very little about Organic Valley’s origin story and mission before going. I’m excited to share more about this really unique company with you.

Organic dairy farm tour!

Here are some Organic Valley facts that I didn’t know before (you might find them interesting, too!):

  • Organic Valley is a co-op, which means that the farms who supply the products that are sold are the owners of the business. Learn more about their impressive business model here.
  • Organic Valley puts a huge emphasis on helping small family farms work (and be successful), and I love that. Being a small business owner in a rural community has changed my life; giving that opportunity to others is a gift I think is worth sharing.
  • They have a farmer-funded grant program that supports organic research, education, and advocacy projects across the country.
  • Is organic really better for you? I think it is, and that’s why I choose to grow and produce as much of my own food as I can. That being said, I can’t produce everything I need, and I bet you are in the same boat. It was so refreshing to go and see a successful farm that cares about the health of the land and animals while still turning a profit. These folks are smart and informed, and they are making mindful decisions. You can read more about what organic is and why it is important here.
  • Organic Valley had a pretty cool start, just a group of farmers in the Midwest who were told to “get big or get out,” and they didn’t want to. You can read about their humble start here.

Organic dairy farm tour!

Friends, I feel like this trip lit a fire under me, in a good way! I’ve always had a passion for good food. I know how important it is to feed my family well (and I try to share my best tips, tricks, and recipes here so that you can feed your family well, too). Once in a while, though, I feel really discouraged with the food systems in the United States. I feel like if I don’t take charge and make/grow/raise/produce/bottle it myself, then my family shouldn’t be eating it. Organic Valley has literally renewed my hope in the future of American food production; it’s a company I’m truly proud to support.

Going out to the farm and meeting employees, farmers, and even cows was inspiring.

At the event they had all kinds of stations set up with people explaining how things worked. I visited the milking parlor (they have a “cow shower” that is essentially little sprinklers on the floor that wash the cows as they walk in, such a fun idea!), the barn (where the cows can come in from the pasture to enjoy other free-choice foods and some shade on warm afternoons), the calves (so cute), the tents set up with samples of Organic Valley products (their grass-fed cheese is amazing), the shake-and-make-your-own-butter stations, and the station for learning about pastures. They also served an organic lunch (I’m moving to the PNW just for the berries).

Organic dairy farm tour!

The guys in the picture above were at the pasture station, and it was one of my favorites. I learned SO much and I have big dreams of properly grazing our own land in the future. Steve Pierson, on the left, owns an organic dairy farm a few hours away and is part of the Organic Valley co-op. He and the owners of Cloud-Cap transitioned to organic farming from commercial in the mid 2000’s, so they had some great insight because they know both commercial and organic farming. Dr. Greg Brikner (center) is a veterinarian that travels throughout the country visiting Organic Valley’s 2000+ farms and helping farmers troubleshoot issues and checking on animals. Jake Shmitz, right, visits farms he thinks might be a good fit for Organic Valley and tells them about the co-op (that sounds like a fun job if you ask me).

Organic dairy farm tour!

Steve was so much fun to listen to, I actually sent him an email when I got home to get some more information. These men talked a lot about pasture health and how it relates to the health of the animals. They talked about organic farming as an interesting cycle: the grass, gut health of the cow, and the healthy micro-organisms that go back to the grass via the cow manure. They also talked about the health benefits of organic milk (because the animals have good gut health and have less stress), plus other exciting things like how much they have benefited from moving from commercial to the Organic Valley co-op. I might write a whole other post about how neat and sustainable organic dairy is.

The cool thing about this farm discovery day is that YOU can go to one, too. They are happening at Organic Valley farms all over the country. Check out more info here to see if there is a farm tour near you. I’d highly recommend taking the whole family for a day at the farm – you’ll love it as much as I did. Heck, I’m thinking about planning next summer’s vacation around a farm tour because I had such a great time!

Organic dairy farm tour!

Cloud-Cap Farms is a 5th generation dairy farm. Andy and Melissa Collman run the farm with Melissa’s parents, Gary and Connie Moore (Andy is pictured above). I got to interview Melissa, and she was so much fun to talk to. She’s a smart business owner who knows a thing or two about raising dairy cows; you can see our live interview here and follow Organic Valley on Facebook here.  We talked all things dairy farming, our favorite Organic Valley products, what we like to cook (spoiler alert: Melissa likes to make pie!), and more. If you have a minute, definitely take a look. Here’s a picture of on of their fields with Mount Hood in the background. Gorgeous!

Organic dairy farm tour!

In conjunction with an organic dairy farm visit, I thought my famous fruit pizza cookies recipe would be a fun one for you today.

My family loves fruit pizza sugar cookies because they are extra light, fluffy, and soft, but they also keep their shape well. A good sugar cookie recipe is always nice to have on hand for holidays and weekend treats. Enjoy these with a glass of Organic Valley milk, and you’ll really be in cookie heaven.

Festive fruit pizza cookies are made with super soft sour cream sugar cookies & a simple cream cheese frosting, & then piled high with seasonal fruit.

Tips and Tricks for making Fruit Pizza Cookies

  • You can’t skip chilling the dough. This is a must-do to get the cookies to roll out well and keep their shape. The great part is that you can chill them for 4 to 36 hours. It’s super easy to get these cookies to work with your schedule.
  • The secret to their super soft texture is Organic Valley sour cream.  Don’t use reduced fat or fat-free products here, though – full fat is best.
  • I love this set of stainless steel biscuit/cookie cutters and used them for this recipe.
  • You can use just about any fruit that you’d like on top. Strawberries and cherries in the spring, berries all summer long, and orange segments and pomegranate bits in the winter. Use what you like and what is in season.

Craving more? Subscribe to Bless this Mess to get new recipes, meal plans, and a newsletter delivered straight to your inbox! If you try this recipe, let me know what you think! Leave a comment, pin it, and don’t forget to tag a picture #blessthismesseats on Instagram. I love to see your kitchen skills in action!

Print

Fruit Pizza Cookies and a Trip to the Farm!

Festive fruit pizza cookies are made with super soft sour cream sugar cookies and a simple cream cheese frosting, and then piled high with seasonal fruit.

  • Author: Melissa Griffiths
  • Prep Time: 4 hr, 15 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  • Total Time: -25572488.25 minute
  • Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

For the Cookies

For the Frosting

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. You can use a stand mixer, an electric hand mixer, or a fork and some elbow grease to do this. It’s up to you.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla and stir until very smooth.
  3. Add the sour cream and stir until combined.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir until well-combined. The dough will be sticky.
  5. Place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap, shape into a disk, wrap well, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 36 hours.
  6. When you are ready to bake the dough, remove it from the fridge, unwrap, and divide it into 2 pieces. Roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thick on a well-floured surface and cut into shapes (I used a 3-inch circle cookie cutter). Place the cut out cookies on a parchment- or baking-mat-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-11 minutes. The tops of the cookies will be light, but the bottom should be lightly brown.
  7. Repeat with remaining dough.
  8. To make the frosting, add the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, 1 tablespoon of cream, and the dash of salt to a large bowl and beat until fluffy, about a minute (a stand or hand mixer works well for this). Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy. If the frosting is too thick, add the additional tablespoon of cream or milk and beat again.
  9. When the cookies are completely cooled, add a generous helping of frosting and top with seasonal fruit that has been cut into bite-sized pieces.

Festive fruit pizza cookies are made with super soft sour cream sugar cookies & a simple cream cheese frosting, & then piled high with seasonal fruit.

So delicious! I can’t wait for you to make a batch of these.

Thank you for enjoying a recap of my trip to Organic Valley and Cloud-Cap Farms, and these fun and simple fruit pizza cookies. It was a pleasure to write about them both. Organic Valley is really fun to follow on Instagram if you are interested in cute animal/farm pictures, FYI.

PS. Wondering where you can get some delicious Organic Valley products of your own? To find Organic Valley products at a store near you, use their product locator tool: http://ov.coop/findov

Fruit Pizza Cookies

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Organic Valley. Thank you for supporting the brands that I truly love and that help make Bless this Mess possible. The opinions and text are all mine.