Family Kids

Back-to-School Lunches with Iron Chef America Judge Donatella Arpaia‏

Donatella ArpaiaThis is my 19th year packing school lunches! And I have five more years to go before the youngest is off to college. That is a whole lot of lunches! Every morning my kitchen counter becomes an assembly line of breads, proteins, chopped veggies, sliced fruit, and crunchy snacks. Trying to keep it appealing with a variety of options has been my challenge. Trying to keep it fast and simple is a must! Somedays I have had as many as five lunches to prepare and pack before we all head out the door.

While I have taught all my children to manage their clothing and laundry early on, I have always been the one to prepare and pack their lunches. I think my years being a teacher has allowed me to really see what a difference a healthy and balanced lunch makes to a child’s learning. That and I suppose, I just like being the one to send them off for the day with a bit of home in their bagged lunch. So I pack those school lunches every day until they leave home for college.

Which means that I am always looking for inspiration! I was excited to speak with  Iron Chef Judge and Celebrity Chef – and mom – Donatella Arpaia. She says you don’t have to fight to get your kids to eat nourishing meals, and she joins us with creative ways to get more fruits and veggies in your kid’s diet this school year.

Thank you, chef Donatella!

Check out her recipes at


Mexican and Chicken Corn Salad

Turkey Bolognese Sliders_3

Turkey Bolognese with Peas and Carrots

This interview was provided by Libby’s, but my opinions and ideas are all 100% all my own.

What are some of your creative packed lunch ideas? I’d love to hear about your favorites!



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(13) Comments

  1. I love the thought of healthy kids lunches. As a teacher, I see a lot of lunches and sometimes I have to cringe at what’s packed in them. These are some great tips!

    1. Stacey says:

      Pam, I think that is why I continue to pack my kids lunches. As a teacher, I too, see inches that make me cringe. Or children with afternoon headaches after not eating – because they “forgot” to pack a lunch.

  2. Packed lunches can get boring around my home sometimes. These are great ideas, that I would never would have thought to put into a lunch box.

    1. Stacey says:

      I agree – variety is important!

  3. I put a lot of effort into feeding my family healthy, nutritious meals. If they want pizza, I make my own pizza with whole-wheat (or gluten-free) crust and lots of spinach under cheese. Makes for great lunch. If they want chicken, I shred it into a mason jar green salad. I always make my own bread for sandwiches and sneak hemp hearts, wheat germ and flax seed into the dough. Some other things that we like for a lunch on the go are sugar snap peas, baby carrots, hummus, cottage cheese, apples, cheese….

    1. Stacey says:

      Excellent ideas! Your kiddos are very lucky to have you going the extra mile for them! I have never really made my own bread – on a regular basis anyways. But I do know that my kids all love vegetables since they have always been a part of their meals.

  4. Wow! 19 years! Looks too young for 19 years. Love the lunch ideas!

  5. I’m saving all of these school lunch ideas. I know I will need help getting creative!

    1. Stacey says:

      You will do a great job!

  6. 19 years of packing lunches?!? Wow! My mom made us start packing our own lunches in about the 4th grade 🙂

    1. Stacey says:

      While I still make their lunches – I made my kids start doing their laundry young 🙂 Just the way I roll.

  7. 19 years of packing lunches – woah! I am impressed 🙂 My little ones haven’t even started school yet, so the most I do is pack snacks for the park – and even that can be a pain to organise at the best of times 🙂

  8. 19 yrs of making lunches!! I am impressed.

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