Making Lunch Boxes Happy

I am not a Bento-boxing mama – I am half asleep when I pack my kids’ lunches, so there isn’t enough brain power going on to mold their cheese cubes into porcupines or spell out their names using fruit leather.

But I do like to use the lunch box as an opportunity to throw a little love their way by adding in a special surprise or treat now and then.

These are some of the things I have done in the past to bring a smile to my boys’ faces in the middle of the day.cute lunch ideas at happy home fairySince I am working full-time this year, I won’t have time to do my annual Lunch Box Week, but I can confidently say that this site has more than enough inspirations for you to pick from!

**You can find all my Lunch Box Ideas and FREE Printables HERE.**

Happy Lunch Box Happy-ing! :-)

For Busy Moms – What To Eat For Lunch

Hey there readers!  Today I am excited to share with you one of my dearest friends and college roommate – Jenna Braddock, from Fresh Food Perspectives.  This girl is AMAZING.  I loved getting to live with her during our FSU days and see what God was doing in her heart as she pursued a calling in nutrition.  She taught me so much about living for Jesus, eating healthy and caring for my body.  I asked if she would write a post for Happy Home Fairy featuring ideas about what busy moms can eat for lunch because, I don’t know about you, but this is the meal that I tend to have NO CLUE what to do with and usually end up eating yogurt and chocolate chips – which isn’t exactly fuel for finishing the laundry and having tickle fights with my boys.  I know you will love her wisdom and fresh ideas about food. :-)

What can busy moms eat for lunch?? Great, easy ideas!Lunch time.  Oh, lunch time.

In my house it usually happens like this:

We’ve been out all morning (at the gym, playground, grocery store, Costco, etc.) and because we don’t live near ANYTHING – except a Starbucks – we are literally out for the entire morning.

When we walk in the door, hopefully a little before noon, my baby is cranky, I’m starving, and my toddler is saying he is hungry– every. ten. seconds.  I’m trying to put away bags or food, entertain baby until I can feed him, figure out what we are going to eat, and pray for patience to answer my toddler’s non-stop food requests.

It’s not always pretty.

For a while, I just focused on feeding my boys and getting them down for their nap.  I figured that I’d feed myself after all that chaos was over.  But by the time I did end up eating (around 1:30pm), I was either too tired to care (and then just picked at something dumb) or I’d be ravenous and attack chips or chocolate before a thought of a vegetable even crossed my mind.  Neither of these paths left me feeling good in any way.  And it certainly didn’t set me up to have a productive nap time – which is crucial for my work life.  Most of the time, I’d end up needing a nap myself (which I 100% support, but don’t always want to feel like I need one).

After one too many afternoons of this, I realized that in order to be the mom I need to be for my family, my lunch needed to be just as important as my boys’ lunch.

Since then, things have changed a little around here at lunch time.

One, I try to plan ahead.

In fact, I do this for my sitter when she is here during lunch time so that it will be smooth and easy for her.  So why don’t I do that for myself?  Hmm.

Two, I now take a few extra minutes to prepare my lunch as well and then we all sit down together.

Usually I will serve my toddler and I the same thing.  I don’t necessarily eat his lunch, he eats my lunch (it’s semantics but I think it’s an important point).  Sometimes they come in slightly different versions – his is a “deconstructed” version of mine – but this makes it easier and enforces the idea that we all just eat food (as opposed to kids eat ‘kid food’ and adults eat ‘adult food’).

Here are a few ideas of the lunches I eat that make me feel energized and are fairly simple to prepare.  Cooking quinoa or prepping veggies on the weekend makes these meals happen a lot more easily during the week.

  1. Deli meat and cheese roll ups with a slice of avocado inside; broccoli and hummus.

  2. 1 cup Plain Greek yogurt with chopped cucumber, fresh dill, cumin, and raisins mixed in. Whole grain crackers on the side.

  3. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (natural PB and all-natural jelly) on whole wheat bread, carrot sticks and fresh berries on the side.

  4. Quinoa and black bean bowl with salsa, cheese, avocado.

  5. Salad with grilled chicken (leftover from dinner), fresh strawberries, chips and guacamole.

  6. Frozen veggie burger (lately, it’s this brand) with slice of cheese or sliced avocado, carrots and hummus, and blueberries.

What I look for in a lunch is a source of protein, at least one fruit or veggie, and something “happy” (e.g. a favorite healthy food like avocado, hummus, PB, black beans, whole grain chips, or sparkling water like La Croix).  Anything too high in carbs makes me feel sleepy and I need to have energy to get stuff done during nap time.  Including a “happy” food helps me not go back to the pantry several times during the afternoon to find something for my hankering.  It’s also a good idea to try to include many colors in your meal – especially something green.

So ladies, please take the time to care for yourself at lunch.  You may need a few different strategies to help you pull off lunches, depending on the schedule for your day.  Crazy days may need a short and sweet plan.  Less involved days may allow you to put in a little more time.

Either way, a little planning goes a long way!

What are your favorite go-to lunches?

- Jenna

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Jenna Braddock, MSH, RD, CSSD, LD/N is a registered dietitian and a mom to two boys. When not chasing down her sons or watching her husband coach football, she enjoys helping people have a positive relationship with food and reach their goals. As a nutrition expert she works as a healthy living speaker, nutrition counselor, blogger, recipe developer and media spokesperson. You can follow her fresh perspective and healthy recipes on her blog at www.FreshFoodPerspectives.com or on Twitter and Instagram as @JBraddockRD.

FREE Printable Inspirational Lunch Box Notes

FREE Printable inspirational lunch box notes! these are absolutely adorable. such a great way to sneak a little of Jesus' love into my kid's day!As I searched for fun FREE Printable lunch box notes to share with you, I realized that I could not find any that were faith-based.

And as a mom who loves Jesus and wants to seize every opportunity that I can to remind my Happy Buddies of His love, I set out to change this unfortunate situation.

So I made my own!

I am so excited to share them with you today.inspirational lunch notes!Inspirational Lunch Box Notes

**Download your FREE Printable Inspirational Lunch Box Notes HERE**

God bless you, sweet readers.

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy Inspirational Lunch Box Note-ing! :-)

*You can find other great FREE Printable Lunch Box Notes HERE and HERE.*

FREE Printable Lunch Box Notes for the ENTIRE YEAR

FREE Printable Lunch Box Notes for the ENTIRE YEAR! This is AMAZING! Includes all the major holidays! I love putting a little note in my kid's lunch box!There are so many amazing FREE Printable Lunch Box Notes out there, but the options can be overwhelming!

Let me help you narrow it down with this post. :-)

This round-up of FREE Printable Lunch Box Notes should keep your Happy Buddy’s lunch box SUPER happy as you celebrate all the holidays throughout the entire school year.

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Winter Lunch Notes from Happy Home Fairy

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Valentine’s Day Lunch Notes from Crafts and Sutch

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Valentine’s Day Lunch Notes from Over the Big Moon

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St. Patrick’s Day Lunch Notes from Happy Home Fairy

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Easter Lunch Notes from Happy Home Fairy

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End of Year Lunch Notes from iMOM

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Back to School Lunch Notes from Happy Home Fairy

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Back to School Lunch Notes from Three Little Monkeys Studio

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Fall Lunch Notes from Darling Doodles

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Thanksgiving Lunch Notes from Crafts and Sutch

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Thanksgiving Lunch Notes from Darling Doodles

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Christmas Lunch Notes from Kiki and Company

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Christmas Lunch Notes from Darling Doodles

Inspirational Lunch Box Notes

And then these FREE Printable Inspirational Lunch Notes are timeless. :-)

Happy Year’s Worth of Lunch Box Note-ing! :-)

*You can find my other round-up of FREE Printable Lunch Box Notes HERE.*

How to Make a Sandwich Smile

Lunch Box WeekA PB&J isn’t very exciting.

But when you give it a little personality with one of these easy (and adorable) ideas, you’ve got yourself a sandwich (and a Happy Buddy) that smiles. :-)

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Lisa Storms took a large marshmallow, cut it in half, and used a food writing pen to make the eyes.

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Meet the Dubiens brilliantly used Mr. Potato Head accessories and some edible eyes to make this hilarious face.

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Draw a silly face on a pita like Eats Amazing.

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Sometimes just adding a face to a Ziploc bag with some reinforcement stickers and a Sharpie like Chef In Disguise will do the trick!

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Or this creative packaging from Kitchen Daily would be a colorful greeting when the lunch box is opened.

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Another cute little face from Lisa Storms.  Love his cheese stick eyes and pepperoni mouth!

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And this is a sandwich that won’t have anyone frowning in response!

None of these ideas require a lot of time or effort, just a few simple additions to add an extra smile to your Happy Buddy’s day.

Happy Smiling Sandwich-ing! :-)

The Lunch Box FUN Box

Adding fun things to your child's lunch - an easy way to be organized on hurried mornings!I have been sharing some fun ways to add magic and surprise to your Happy Buddy’s lunch box.

You may have been wondering how in the world I keep track of all those little supplies.

Let me introduce you to my Lunch Box FUN Box.

I went to Walmart a few years ago and bought a plastic container for a couple of bucks.

Then I filled it with all the things I thought I would need to make my Happy Buddy’s lunch awesome.

the lunch box FUN box inside2Here is a peek of what’s inside (click the links to learn more about each item)…

Bento Picks

Silicone Cupcake Liners

Stickers

Adhesive Googly Eyes

Cute Napkins

Sandwich Cutters

Cute Post-Its

Crayons (for writing love notes on the Post-Its)

Stack of FREE Printable Lunchbox Love Notes (Pssst! If you come back on Friday you will be in for a super awesome freebie!)

Food Writer Pens

Washi Tapethe lunch box FUN box inside

Arrange everything in your box and keep it handy for when you are packing lunches.

the lunch box FUN boxHappy Lunch Box FUN Box-ing! :-)

10 Easy Lunch Box Ideas

10 easy lunchbox ideas. This is easy lunchbox eye candy! All ideas are very doable and yummy. Even a picky eater could enjoy!!I have recently fallen in love with Easy Lunchboxes.

I am not a fan of tupperware and often throw mine away before having to clean whatever unidentifiable leftover is inside, so packing lunches with a bunch of different containers is not my cup of tea.

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Easy Lunchboxes are great because they have 3 compartments and 1 lid.  I can fit an entire meal inside 1 Easy Lunchbox and BAM.

Lunch is served.

Ever since I bought my containers, I have been looking for fun and creative ways to fill them.

Note – my boys won’t eat about 95% of the things that I share in this post just in case you are feeling bad about your picky eater, I just really enjoy the visual inspiration (not to mention a few ideas for my own lunches!).  Also note – my oldest just informed me this evening that he no longer likes peanut butter which now cuts us down to about 2 different lunchbox options that he will eat. #abouttolosemymind :-)

I hope, however, that some of these ideas will strike a chord with you and give your Happy Buddies something that won’t get traded during the lunch hour.

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Following In My Shoes features this yummy lunch with a creative spin on the sandwich – instead of using bread, try a Sandwich on a Stick by threading cheese and meat chunks on a skewer.

Serve with: cherry tomatoes, pretzel crisps, dip, strawberries and apples

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I am finding that the smaller I cut broccoli, the more likely the Happy Buddy is to eat it.

I am going to give these Mini Broccoli Quiches from Baked Brie a whirl.

Serve with: blueberries, goldfish crackers, applesauce pouch

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It is quite easy to make your own version of a Pizza Lunchable thanks to Momables.

Serve with: grapes

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Sometimes just rolling things up in a whole grain wrap will give your Happy Buddy’s lunch just the extra oomph it needs to get out of a rut.

Simple As That featured these delicious wraps (along with 6 other Easy Lunchbox inspirations).

Serve with: Scrabble cheese crackers, cantaloupe and honeydew chunks, carrots and snow peas

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How yummy do these Pizza Scrolls from iPackLunch look????

Serve with: mango, snow peas, carrot chips

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I am a huge fan of cinnamon raisin anything.  These mini cinnamon raisin bagels from Lunch, Snack and Sninner are stuffed with deli ham slices and cream cheese.

Serve with: graham cracker bears, cucumber and hummus, fruit

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I love the cute way Meet the Dubiens rocked a blueberry muffin in this simple lunch.

Muffins are a great lunch option because you can hide all kinds of fruits and/or veggies in them.

Serve with: pretzels, kiwi slices, grapes, strawberries

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Speaking of muffins, this lunch from 100 Days of Real Food features a whole spelt flour muffin that has zucchini in it.  Mmmmm.

Serve with: egg salad, frozen peas, whole grain crackers, berry/yogurt/spinach smoothie pop

**And if you want to know how to pack a smoothie (hint – it’s in that funny-looking green thing), check out THIS POST for her tips.**

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Sometimes all you need is some cool looking bread and a fun sandwich cutter like this one from Mamabelly.

Serve with: apple slices, popcorn

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Finally, I thought these little Corn Dog Cupcakes from Following In My Shoes were too cute (and this particular recipe is gluten-free!).

Serve with: sauce for dipping, cheese cubes, apple chunks, snow peas

Be sure to check out all of the websites listed in this post for even MORE simple Easy Lunchbox inspirations!

**You can find Easy Lunchbox Compartmentalized Food Storage Containers on Amazon.**

Happy Easy Lunchbox-ing! :-)