Lunchables are so popular that they’ve become a full blown business for Kraft with product line extensions for breakfast, little kid snacks, and heat-and-eat snacks for teens. The convenience is undeniably alluring, but the ingredients, cost, and waste are hard to swallow given how incredibly easy it is to make DIY Lunchables.
With a handful of ingredients and a few reusable compartmentalized lunch containers (there are so many options at Reuseit.com; if you’re open to plastic, the ones at Easylunchboxes.com look a lot like the Lunchables containers), it’s pack and go. Here are homemade lunches inspired by Lunchables to get you started on healthier and more budget- and eco-friendly lunches for the school year ahead.
Top: DIY Ham Lunchables | What Lisa Cooks
I have to start with this DIY Taco Lunchables from my site, One Hungry Mama, not because it’s my own but because it’s one of my kids’ all time favorite lunches. Unlike most of the other DIY Lunchables, this one requires a little advanced planning, unless you’re packing lunches for a tween who’s comfortable at the stove. Instead of cooking just for school lunch, I make sure to cook extra taco meat whenever we have tacos for dinner, then this lunch comes together in a snap the next morning.
Another popular option: the DIY Pizza Lunchables. I like this one at Momables because they break down the difference between the homemade and store-bought versions. Whoa! It is so worth putting this one together yourself, even when you’re using all store-bought elements. Crazy.
A DIY Ham Lunchables (above & top) like this one at What Lisa Cooks requires no advance planning if you tend to pack ham sandwiches from time to time. You pack basically the same elements, but in a way where your kid can put them together at lunch time. In fact, it’s kind of less work! You can do this with any lunch meat including turkey, salami, and roast beef.
One of the newer Lunchables is their Kabobbles set, which is basically sandwich ingredients that can be threaded onto pretzel sticks. You can DIY this idea by either making sandwich kabobs like the ones I found at Simple As That (top) or serve the sandwich ingredients next to pretzel sticks like I do sometimes (bottom). This idea is especially great for kids who are gluten-free since tasty GF pretzels are so easy to find.
The DIY Chicken Strips Lunchables at 100 Days of Real Food is another kid-favorite, though you’ll want to cook the chicken strips yourself to make sure that your DIY version is healthier than the store-bought Lunchables. It’s probably not something I’d do just for school lunch, though I’ll happily make extra whenever I make chicken cutlets for dinner—it is so worth it. Also visit 100 Days of Real Food for other DIY Lunchables ideas with a breakdown of ingredients in the store-bought versus homemade versions. If that doesn’t convince you to go homemade, we’re not sure what will!