It all started during now 11-year-old’s first year of school…

Kindergarten. I remember being pretty geeked about packing lunches, and the first week or two it was so exciting. Being a child of the ’80s and spending my teens in the ’90s, I discovered that this lunchbox thing had gotten pretty cool since I had finished school. I would even go as far as to say it had become a bit fun compared to the wrinkled up brown paper bags that we all grew up with. It was about two full months into my daughter’s kindergarten year before it hit me….

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Colorful Rainbow Chicken Salad Pinwheels from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is a BriGenius Bento Box)

“I have to pack this thing again?!?!”

You know what I’m talking about: blankly staring into the lunchbox and wondering, “What in the world am I supposed to put in here?!” Because as beautiful as that lunchbox was, I still needed to fill those compartments. And the parents of today are doing that whole “know better, do better” thing—we know our kids need more than a bag of chips and an apple to get through the school day. But I still had an infant and a preschooler at home (who apparently needed lunch too!), and I couldn’t spend all day preparing my kindergartener’s lunchbox.

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Easy Sheet Pan Sweet Potato Tots from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is a Planetbox Rover)

An easy, predictable rhythm

I started creating a rotation to our lunch routine that was both exciting with variety and nutrients, and predictable so that I could still live in the unpredictability that is a household filled with little people. The quickest way to lunchbox burnout is making everything from scratch. I found out real quick that making everything myself was a one-way ticket to lunchbox burnout, and one frustrated, tired momma. While I wanted to include real, whole foods in her lunch everyday, it just wasn’t realistic to scratch-make everything. I remember feeling like I was trapped somewhere between throwing Twinkies® in a brown paper sack and creating elaborate “Pinterest Mom” bento box works of art.

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Healthy Alphabet Soup Copycat from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Soup is in a Lunchbots Thermos)

There is a better way, dear momma.

Introducing “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook!” You absolutely can pack school lunches that nourish your growing children and can be packed on a busy schedule. My biggest goal for each lunchbox represented in this cookbook (besides being filled with a balanced, whole-food meal that kids will eat!) was for each lunchbox to have just one homemade item. One homemade item per box is realistic!

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Lunchbox Friendly Real Food Sloppy Joe Bites from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is a Bentgo)

Why does packing a healthy lunch matter?

I get it dear momma. With the schedules we try to pull these days, it’s any wonder we don’t absolutely crash at the end of the day. Why, oh why do we have to make sure our kids’ lunches are clean and nourishing?

  • The average school aged child grows 5-7 pounds & 2 ½ inches per year. Pre-puberty/puberty (Age 10-14 for girls, & 11-16 for boys) is the second largest growth spurt your child will have! (The first is birth to age 3.). <—-Let that sink in a minute! If you think you are out of the woods once you are out of toddlerhood, you are in for a big surprise! These pre-teens grow…a lot! I have one that has entered this season, and it is truer than I ever thought it would be!
  • School day hours are long, and their brains/bodies are working overtime. Most kids are eating breakfast around 7:30am, and even earlier if you have a child in middle or high school with earlier school start times. To expect that these rapidly growing children to not need a big fuel up mid-day is like expecting your car to go on a cross-country trip without a stop at the gas station.
  • The bottom line is…kids and teens are NOT mini adults. You may not understand their appetite as your adult metabolism slows, but there is rapid growth happening in your child, & they need REAL fuel!
The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Fast Prep Brain Boosting Bow Tie Pasta Salad from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is BentoRyte)

A lunchbox book for EVERY type of mom and dad

I knew from the minute that my first cookbook, “Nourished Beginnings Baby Food” published, that I wanted to write a sequel or a spin off. Sure, the absolute high from accomplishing that book was reason enough to want to do it again, but there was more. Babies don’t stay babies! They grow into little people that still need to be fed well, and I wanted to help moms make that transition. “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” helps parents make the jump from babyhood to school-aged children without compromising the real food foundations that they set in those first few years. While I was writing, I also had a goal to reach a broader audience of moms. Some parents don’t learn about real food until later, and I wanted them to be able to pick up this book, be empowered, feel some grace, and know that they could do this as well.

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Build Your Own Nachos “Lunchable®” from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is an UpBento)

Allergen Friendly Recipes!

Because nut free school zones are so common these days, as well as the danger that celiac kids face with traces of gluten, I’ve made “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” entirely nut, gluten, and soy free. Of course, there is nothing inherently bad or unhealthy about nuts or well cared for wheat if you don’t have an allergy to them, so you may swap the seeds in any recipe for nuts that you might have in your pantry, or play around with using regular flour where appropriate if your school doesn’t have those precautions. And because so many kids have trouble digesting processed dairy, most of the recipes are dairy free, or have swaps for any dairy!

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Crunchy Honey Oat Nature Valley® Granola Bar Copycat from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is a Bentgo)

A vision for a well-used cookbook at the heart of your kitchen

My vision is for the pages of The Little Lunchbox Cookbook to be dog-eared, dripped on, written on, faded, and loved on so much that this cookbook becomes a permanent fixture on your counter. I want your kids to be able to point to their favorite recipe. I want your menu plan to become a rhythm of recipe rotations from the pages of this book. You are the reason this generation is going to know how to fuel their bodies to feel well. It starts with you. You will be rewarded with children that are nourished to grow and know what foods make them feel their best.

The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Pizza Lunchable® Copycat from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is a Planetbox Rover)

Every chapter with YOU in mind, dear Momma!

The pages of “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” were a labor of love. Everyday that I get up and get to communicate with you all on social media, and in this space, I count myself blessed. As I wrote each section, I had you and your kids in mind. I can’t wait for you to read each one!

  1. Beyond Peanut Butter & Jelly–Fun & Delicious Sandwiches! :: I’ll help pull you out of your sandwich rut with a fun rotation to add to your sandwich days each week!
  2. Lunchables® Copycats :: You know the kids see the store bought ones everyday! Making your own Lunchables® with healthier ingredients is so easy and much more filling for a full afternoon at school.
  3. Warm and Comforting Thermos Lunches :: For the kids that like hot lunches! This section has a good mix of kid friendly soups like creamy broccoli, and fun hot dishes like Spaghetti-O’s, Mac ‘N Cheese, and stir fry.
  4. Nuggets, Dippers, and Bites :: Because I don’t know any kid that doesn’t love to dip! Make anything bite sized and kids will be all over it!
  5. Colorful Kid-Approved Salads :: I promise this isn’t just for the older kids (although I had tweens and teens in mind when writing this section!) – fun, colorful salads and pasta salads filled with brain nourishing fats will make getting veggies in super delicious!
  6. The Finishing Touches–Snacks & Sides :: From muffins and granola bars, to easy trail mixes, energy bars and bites, this is a fun one to stock the pantry with!
The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Comforting Beef Noodle Soup from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Soup is in an Arder Live Thermos)

Bonus sections in “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook!

The last 2 sections in the cookbook are my bonus gift to you!

  • Section 7 includes a really fun selection of lunchbox treats! It is so important that our kids have a healthy relationship with food – including occasionally getting to have a sweet treat to celebrate their birthday, or a holiday! From birthday cupcakes and fruit packed gummy bears, to Valentine’s Brownie Bites and Halloween Pumpkin Harvest mini cookies, I’ve got you covered with healthier choice, allergen friendly mini treats to surprise the kids on a special day!
  • Section 8 is packed with real food kid staples for your kitchen. Everyday items like homemade 5-minute Ranch and hummus for dipping, as well as a handful of “how-to’s” to make life easier like how to batch cook beans, hard boiled eggs, and chicken/beef for fast protein additions.
The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Valentine’s Day Brownie Bites from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook”

What others are saying!

“A great resource! Renee’s recipes are a creative twist on healthy and satisfying with tons of ideas and beautiful images to match.”

Natalie Monson, founder of and

“Renee has not only made real food doable for busy families, but has created healthy kid-friendly recipes that appeals to children of all eating styles and offers parent fueling ideas for those lunch boxes. Chocked full of variety, easy recipes and inspiring lunch box images, this book will become a kitchen staple for parents and caregivers.” 

Taesha Butler, Founder of 

“As a parent, figuring out how to nourish our kids in a traditional, real food way while living in a fast-paced, processed food society can be quite the challenge. Renee offers us simplicity and encouragement with practical ideas, beautiful photo inspiration and guidance, and delicious, easy-to- make recipes. No matter the age of your child or season of life, Renee breaks down nourishing lunches in a doable and approachable way!” 

Kristin Marr, Found of LiveSimply.ME

“I love that Renee’s approach makes it easy for parents to make and pack healthy meals. Plus, kids love her recipes!”

Amy Palanjian, founder of and author of Busy Little Hands: Food Play!

Is it possible to be both jaw-dropping and doable? I’m just tickled that so many of Renee’s incredible whole food, allergy friendly recipes are together in one place to help other moms feel like superwoman. 
Renee’s advice to strive for one homemade item in each box is perfect for busy families, and then the rest is just putting together puzzle pieces according to her quick tips for balance. With recipes for unique sandwich options, homemade Lunchables® and Spaghetti-O’s® copycat, 8 different dippables and more, your kids’ lunches are about to be the talk of the cafeteria… And the only risk may be that your kids will be so inspired they will grab this cookbook and you’ll work yourself out of a job!

– Katie Kimball of Kids Cook Real Food
The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
Buttermilk Biscuit Breakfast Sammy from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is a Lunchbots Trio)

You can find “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook here!


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The Little Lunchbox Cookbook
5-Ingredient Fast Prep Chicken Nuggets from “The Little Lunchbox Cookbook” (Lunchbox is an UpBento)
The Little Lunchbox Cookbook