From the category archives:

Lunch Box Menus

Lunch Menu #23

December 19, 2013

ham fried rice lunch menu

By Lindsey Johnson of Café Johnsonia for Design Mom.

Menu #23 of our Lunch Box Series has a bit of Asian flair. We eat a lot of Asian food, and therefore a lot of rice. If I have leftover plain rice, a great way to use it up (besides rice pudding) is to turn it into another meal. Here I made good use of it for a quick, semi-healthy hot lunch. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making it from scratch, order a little extra the next time you have takeout and use it for an easy lunch.

LUNCH MENU #23
- ham fried rice
- kale chips
- clementine
- freeze dried strawberries and chocolate chips
- milk (or water)

Click for tips and sources!

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Lunch Menu #22

December 17, 2013

french toast stick lunch menu

By Lindsey Johnson of Café Johnsonia for Design Mom.

I know what you’re thinking — another breakfast-for-lunch menu? Yep! I think my kids and I could eat breakfast for every meal, so Menu #22 of our Lunch Box Series is a popular one in my family. It doesn’t have to be French toast. It could be baby pancakes or waffles. The idea is that it’s a finger food that doesn’t need a fork or plate. Dipping is all part of the fun! I like to include jam instead of syrup for several reasons: 1) syrup is super sticky and spills more easily, and 2) it’s super sticky and spills more easily. : )

I add in some kind of extra protein in the form of lunch meat, cheese stick or cubes. Rice pudding is a relatively new thing we’ve been trying. I didn’t love it as a kid myself, but so far so good! It’s a great way to use up leftover rice and fill their little bellies. If it’s not your child’s thing, you can totally substitute yogurt or cottage cheese. This menu is 100% flexible!

LUNCH MENU #22
- homemade French toast sticks with all-fruit jam (see below for directions)
- a few slices of lunch meat
- carrot applesauce
- rice pudding
- orange juice

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Lunch Menu #21

December 11, 2013

homemade pizza pocket

By Lindsey Johnson of Café Johnsonia for Design Mom.

I’ve been really trying to find something my son will eat for lunch. He has numerous issues with food beyond being a picky eater. It’s more of a sensory issue — he’s on the autism spectrum. When I find something he will eat besides peanut butter and honey, I’m super excited. For Menu #21 of our Lunchbox Series, I made him homemade pizza pockets! (I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before!) Admittedly it’s not the healthiest of lunches, but every once in awhile I feel okay about it. And it’s a lot better than the pizza they have available at school.

LUNCH MENU #21
- homemade pizza pocket (recipe below)
- carrot and celery sticks
- banana
- dried cranberries
- portable kefir (my kids call these ‘yogurt smoothies’)

Click for sources and recipe!

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Lunch Menu #20

December 5, 2013

chicken enchiladas

By Lindsey Johnson of Café Johnsonia for Design Mom.

Menu #20 of our Lunch Box Series is all about the leftovers. I’m a big fan of sending them to school for lunch with my kids. Chicken enchiladas is a favorite. Here I’ve added some tortillas chips and salsa and cinnamon applesauce. It’s a very filling hot lunch that I know will always be eaten and enjoyed. And I love the bonus that my leftovers are getting used up!

LUNCH MENU #20
- chicken enchiladas
- tortilla chips and salsa
- cinnamon apple sauce
- water

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Lunch Menu #19

December 2, 2013

pretzels+chocolate dip

By Lindsey Johnson of Café Johnsonia for Design Mom.

Menu #19 in our Lunch Box Series is another favorite snack-y lunch. There are lots of little finger foods that are perfect for sharing with a friend, but tasty enough I know they’ll eat them.

LUNCH MENU #19
- whole grain pretzels with chocolate nut butter dip
- grapes
- baby carrots
- dried mango pieces
- cottage cheese
- hardboiled egg

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Lunch Menu #18

November 25, 2013

linguine+marinara sauce

By Lindsey Johnson of Café Johnsonia for Design Mom.

For menu #18 of our Lunch Box Series I planned another pasta dish. A warm meal like this is so simple but satisfying — especially on a cold day. My kids are all smiles whenever they see me prepping the thermos for pasta!

LUNCH MENU #18
- linguine with marinara sauce
-cheese and garlic bread stick
- string cheese
-carrots with homemade dip
- squeezable fruit puree*
-water

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Lunch Menu #17

November 20, 2013

tortilla soup

By Lindsey Johnson of Café Johnsonia for Design Mom.

Menu #17 of our Lunch Box Series is one of my oldest daughter’s favorite lunches — chicken tortilla soup, or as we call it at home “Corn Chip Soup.” (I’ve included the recipe below!) We always eat this soup with salsa, sour cream, and corn chips, hence the name. Sometimes we add shredded cheese and a squeeze of lime, but I left that out this time. The fruit makes a great dessert.

LUNCH MENU #17
- chicken tortilla soup
- chips and salsa
- sour cream
- cubed fruit: watermelon and pineapple

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Lunch Menu #16

November 18, 2013

sunflower+banana sandwich

Image and text by Lindsey Johnson for Design Mom.

According to my Kindergartener, Menu #16 of our Lunch Box Series, this sunflower and banana sandwich, is the BEST sandwich ever and she wants to eat it every day. Now if that isn’t a compliment! The sunflower butter is super tasty. We’ve decided we like the kind from Trader Joe’s the best, which I am sure is because it has cane juice in it. : )

A great thing I’ve just discovered are these awesome reusable pouches. They can even be washed in the dishwasher. The other side has space to write what is in the bag that day. The one in the picture has Greek yogurt in it. Kind of a nice budget-friendly way to send yogurt in my kids’ lunches. We’ll be trying out homemade applesauce next.

Now let’s talk about root beer cookies because they always garner a mixed reaction. I know they sound strange, but they have been a family favorite since I was in elementary school. I’ve started using whole wheat flour and my kids never notice the difference! They are super soft and remind me of childhood. So what do you think? Would you try them?

LUNCH MENU #16
- sunflower butter and banana sandwich
- clementine
- grapes
- yogurt (in EZ squeezees pouch)
root beer cookie sandwich
- crunchy pea snacks
- water

Click for tips and sources!

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Lunch Menu #15

November 13, 2013

tortellini + salad

By Lindsey Johnson of Café Johnsonia for Design Mom.

Here’s Menu #15 in our Lunch Box Series — pasta, sauce, and salad! A sure to please combo that my kids adore. And with the right equipment (click through for sources), the pasta really does stay warm till lunch.

LUNCH MENU #15
- Tortellini with marinara sauce
- Olives, halved grape tomatoes, mini mozzarella balls
- Small salad with homemade ranch
- All natural fruit snacks

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Lunch Menu #14

November 11, 2013

chicken gyos + hummus

By Lindsey Johnson of Café Johnsonia for Design Mom.

One thing we rely on is leftovers for lunch. For Menu #14 of our Lunch Box Series, I’ve included our family favorite, Chicken Gyros and Tzatziki. It’s just as good cold as it is hot. For a little crunch and some green, there’s a container of sprouts (these are actually micro-greens) to go inside. I’ve also got some hummus to eat with the carrots and grape tomatoes.

LUNCH MENU #14
- chicken on pita
- tzatziki
- baby carrots and grape tomatoes
- grapes
- hummus

Click for tips and sources!

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Lunch Menu #13

November 6, 2013

veggies + dip

Image and text by Lindsey Johnson for Design Mom.

For Menu #13 of our Lunch Box Series, we’re doing another snack-y lunch because they are so popular! This time I’ve created a mini-relish tray (minus pickles) with a homemade Ranch dip (Greek yogurt and seasoning mix). Instead of cheese, I’ve included a squeezable yogurt.

LUNCH MENU #13
-mixed veggies + olives
- ranch dip
- salami + ham
- cereal bar
- honey whole wheat pretzels
- squeezable yogurt
- grapes

Click here for tips and sources!

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Lunch Menu #12

November 4, 2013

ham sandwich

By Lindsey Johnson of Café Johnsonia for Design Mom.

Today’s menu in our Lunch Box Series features another lunch menu classic: ham and cheese. The special thing about Lunch Menu #12 is that it doesn’t require an ice pack. Lots of crunchy finger foods too! If your school is nut-free, swap the almond butter for a little cup of caramel. You can usually find them near the apples in the produce section of grocery stores. You’ll find the individual packages of almond butter on the shelf near the other nut butters in grocery stores.

LUNCH MENU #12
- ham and muenster sandwich with a little Dijon mustard (totally optional)
- baby carrots
- apple
- pretzels
- almond butter

Click for tips and sources!

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Lunch Menu #11

October 30, 2013

quesadilla

By Lindsey Johnson of Café Johnsonia for Design Mom.

Quesadillas are on the menu today! What would I do without this go-to favorite? Menu #11 in our Lunch Box Series is full of other goodies too. First we have pico de gallo with veggie chips. (Can I just tell you how much I love the chips pictured? More than my kids do. See below for the source.) I also have to tell you how much we’re digging the pink dip container. It’s actually a separate piece that fits into the lid to the container holding the pico de gallo. It inverts and sits next to an ice pack that fits neatly inside the lid. It’s brilliant!

LUNCH MENU #11
- quesadilla
- homemade pico de gallo and veggie chips
- sour cream
- jicama and olives
- plum
- fruit leather
- coconut water

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Lunch Menu #10

October 28, 2013

pretzel bread + salami sandwich

By Lindsey Johnson of Café Johnsonia for Design Mom.

Have you ever bought pretzel rolls? I never had until the other day. My husband and kids went crazy for them. They are the perfect vehicle for a salami and cheese sandwich — a little more substantial than other rolls. So that’s what I’ve used here in Menu #10 of our Lunch Box Series. It’s another basic lunch menu that seems to be popular at our house. (Anyone else have salami fiends living with them?) A new thing we tried were new-to-us smoothie mashups. My girls really loved this blueberry-purple carrot flavor a lot. I think I’ll be stocking up on more of them. (The tops are recyclable.)

LUNCH MENU #10
- salami and cheese sandwich on pretzel bun
blueberry smoothie mashup
- pear
- celery sticks
- pita chips
- water

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Lunch Menu #9

October 23, 2013

pesto grilled cheese + tomato soup

By Lindsey Johnson for Design Mom.

Sometimes you just feel like having a hot lunch, right? I know my kids feel like that sometimes too. For Menu #9 in our Lunch Box Series, we have a classic favorite: tomato soup with grilled cheese. At our house, grilled cheese is acceptable hot or room temperature, so I have no complaints about sending one in a packed lunch. The thing that makes this sandwich special is a layer of basil pesto inside. Yum! Of course, it’s optional, but I think once you try it that way, you’ll never go back to plain cheese. : )

LUNCH MENU #9
- tomato soup
- grilled cheese (with optional smear of pesto)
- grapes
- sugar snap peas
- bunny cookies

Click for tips and sources!

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Lunch Menu #8

October 21, 2013

green smoothie + muffin

By Lindsey Johnson for Design Mom.

We’re on Menu #8 of our Lunch Box Series — and this continues to be a lot of fun for us! I hope you’re enjoying this series as much as we are. For today’s menu, I’m sharing one my kids really, really like. It includes a green smoothie. We’ve totally jumped on the green smoothie bandwagon and we’re not ready to get off yet.

In the picture, I’m showing a store-bought green smoothie that works great when you need to take a little shortcut. Otherwise, we normally do fresh ones and put them into an insulated bottle. Generally it’s okay to make them the night before, but if you’re having one in the morning, make a little extra to send with school lunch. : ) I’m also thinking my older kids would probably need two muffins to fill them up. One is enough for my Kindergartener. The dipping sauce for the celery sticks is just a little Ranch dressing powder mixed with Greek yogurt. I used a homemade mix that a friend gave me. It was all over Pinterest awhile back. Packaged kind is fine too.

The lunch bag pictured is one of my favorite bags. There are ice packs in the bag itself, so you freeze the entire bag and it keeps everything inside nice and cold. My daughter actually complained one time that it was too cold! I use it when I know everything needs to be kept extra cold to be enjoyable.

LUNCH MENU #8
- green smoothie
- homemade muffin
- plum
- banana
- celery with yogurt dip

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Lunch Menu #7

October 16, 2013

greek yogurt, blueberries, granola + rollup

Photos and text by Lindsey Johnson for Design Mom.

When my oldest was little, I came up with different variations of what we called “roll-ups.” Basically it’s anything you can smear, stuff, layer and roll up in a tortilla. For some reason she just always loved roll-ups and would request them for every meal. For our Menu #7 in the Lunch Menu Series, I’m sharing one of my daughter’s very favorite roll-ups with you. Some lunch menus tend to be more like a second breakfast, and this is one of those menus. But it’s full of healthy proteins, whole grains, and fruit.

MENU #7
- Greek yogurt with blueberries and honey
- Granola (homemade or store bought)
- Energy Packed Roll-Up

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Lunch Menu #6

October 14, 2013

turkey+swiss sandwich

Photo and Text by Lindsey Johnson for Design Mom.

This is another basic for our Lunch Menu #6 — turkey and swiss on whole wheat bread. I’m still a fan of basic lunches because they always get eaten up and my kids love them. I do want to highlight this super cool Wrap-N-Mat. It functions as a reusable sandwich wrap, but also as a place mat. I love it! It’s super easy for kids to use and fold up and fastens with velcro.

MENU #6
- Turkey and Swiss Sandwich on whole wheat
- Whole grain cookies
- Baby carrots
- Apple
- Pickles

Click for tips and sources!

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Lunch Menu #5

October 9, 2013

crackers, ham, cheese, fruit

Photo and text by Lindsey Johnson

Remember when Lunchables first came out and you begged (I mean, begged) your mom to get you one. But then after all the hype it just wasn’t as good as you were hoping? Yeah, me too. That’s why I refuse to buy them for my kids. They’ll thank me for it later, I’m sure.

Nothing could be easier than this Menu #5 from our Lunch Menu Series. The best part is that it is also one of my kids’ favorite lunches. I have one who will spread cheese on the crackers and layer with lunch meat. And one who eats everything separately, and yet another who creates her own cracker sandwiches. It gives them the chance to be a little creative here. You can totally sub whatever cheese, meat, crackers, and fruit your kids like best. It’s just a nice reminder that sometimes nothing tastes better for lunch than good old crackers and cheese.

MENU #5
- assorted crackers (one or two kinds)
- ham
- cheddar cheese stick
- herbed goat cheese (you could sub cream cheese or Laughing Cow)
- grapes
- strawberries

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Lunch Menu #4

October 7, 2013

pasta salad + broccoli

Photo and text by Lindsey Johnson.

This week’s Menu #4 of our Lunchbox Menu Series swaps a sandwich for a pasta salad and loads up on healthy veggies and fruit. I’ve finally discovered the best pasta salad that is full of goodies and easy to adapt to your child’s preferences.

MENU #4
- loaded pasta salad with vinaigrette
- fresh broccoli
- carrot apple sauce
- oatmeal raisin cookies

Click for tips and sources!

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