Lunch Box Library: 5 Books for Packed Lunch Inspiration

by Wendy Copley on August 13, 2014

Lunch Box Library: 5 Books for Packed Lunch Inspiration

I’ve packed more than 1800 lunches for my kids over the past few years and I think in that time I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I’ve got a shelf full of lunch boxes, an over flowing basket of cookie cutters and a list of lunch box ideas posted on my fridge, but even with all that I frequently get stumped when it’s time to pack the lunches in the morning.

When the lunch box doldrums hit me or my kids start complaining about seeing the same foods in their bento boxes day after day, I find I almost always get invigorated by reading a book filled with lunch box inspiration. In the past few years a number of excellent lunch box books have hit the shelves and I’ve purchased lots of them. Today I’m going to share some of my favorites with you so you can get your lunch box gears turning too!

Be sure to read all the way to the bottom for a fun giveaway!

The Best Homemade Kids' Lunches on the PlanetThe Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet by Laura Fuentes

The most recent addition to my collection is The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet by Laura Fuentes. Laura runs the popular lunch box menu planning service, Momables, so she has lunch boxes down pat. Her book is full of the kind of recipes kids love — not the kind of recipes that parents wish kids loved — and they’re made with whole foods and full of good nutrition. When I asked my son to sit down with it and mark some recipes he would like to try, I was surprised and thrilled to see that he’d flagged dozens of recipes. Fuentes offers tons of tips for planning and cooking in advance throughout the book and the end features a super helpful feedbakc chart where kids can mark off each recipe they’ve tried with a star rating.

Beating the Lunch Box Blues by J.M. Hirsch

Released at back to school time last year, Beating the Lunch Box Blues by J.M. Hirsch is jam-packed with gorgeous photos and dozens of interesting and unusual ideas.   It’s important to note that this is not a recipe book — not really. Rather it’s filled with photos that provide inspiration for lunches and short notes with ideas for assembling meals to go quickly and with little fuss. There are a a dozen dinner recipes sprinkled  throughout with ideas for repurposing the leftovers for lunch the next day, but mostly you’ll find ideas for combining ingredients in your fridge to make quick and tasty lunches. Over the past year I’ve found myself flipping through this book several times to get my idea flowing for my own lunches as well as for my kids’. Read my full review of this book.

Weelicious Lunches by Catherine McCord

Catherine McCord of the mega-popular kids’ food site, Weelicious, published this book last year and it’s a real winner. Weelicious Lunches is filled with recipes that provide a fresh take on lunch box staples. There are dozens of recipes for variations on sandwiches, dips, and treats and peanut butter and jelly even gets it’s own chapter. Some of my favorite recipes in the book are her homemade — and much healthier — versions of packaged favorites: cheese crackers, animal cookies, cereal bars and fruit leather, just to name a few. In addition, McCord provides lots of information about lunch box basics. Her section on food allergies is top-notch and she even provides a helpful chart listing allergen information for every recipe in the book. Read my full review of this book here.

Yum-Yum Bento Box by Maki Ogawa and Crystal Watanabe

Looking for ideas for cute bento lunches? Yum-Yum Bento Box by Maki Ogawa and Crystal Watanabe will give you plenty of ideas for incredibly adorable lunches. I’ve had this book for a few years now, but I still love flipping through it for all of the inspiration it provides. The authors are especially adept at creating cute characters and nearly every bento box sports a person or animal with a smiling face. To go along with that theme, they’ve included a chart with ideas for making different elements of faces — eyes, nose, cheeks, mouth, ears, etc. — from different types of food which is really helpful when you are brainstorming your own creations. The book tends to lean more toward Asian ingredients for crafting the decorative elements of the lunches (there’s a lot of rice in this book), so if your kid is a strict peanut-butter-and-jelly-atarian and you want to follow instructions exactly this might not be a perfect fit. But no matter what types of food you pack for your kids you will find a lot of fun ideas here.

Everyday BentoEveryday Bento: 50 Cute and Yummy Lunches to Go by Wendy Thorpe Copley

May I be so bold as to suggest my own book as a source of inspiration? Obviously, I’m not going to be able to give you an unbiased review, but my book, Everyday Bento: 50 Cute and Yummy Lunches to Go is packed with ideas for fun and tasty bento lunches. It opens with information about basic bento packing techniques, types of bento boxes and all the fun tools we all love so much. The meat of the book shows fifty different bento lunches along with detailed photo tutorials explaining exactly how to recreate them in your kitchen. Most of the  bentos have a fun theme – rainbow, robot, butterfly, rock ‘n’ roll, holidays — but there are more grown-up options intended for adults as well. I break down all the steps for bento beginners and I’ve been pleased to hear reports that kids are using the book to make their own lunches. Bento pros will find some more challenging techniques as well.

Would you like a little lunch box inspiration to hold in your own hands? I have five copies of Everyday Bento to giveaway to five Wendolonia readers! Enter below for your chance to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post contains affiliate links.

Lunch Box Library: 5 Books for Packed Lunch Inspiration

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  • Alissa

    I use your food list chart.

  • Melissa

    I get ideas from friends and pintrest.

  • Jana

    I find lunch box inspiration on your site. Love it!

  • Elita

    I find lunchbox inspirations in blogs and magazines.

  • JulianaMaz

    Love these books! Inspiration from Wendolonia and google image search if I have a specific idea!

  • Marissa

    Pinterest is mu quick go to for lunch inspiration.

  • Andrea Conti-Elkins

    Pinterest and the internet mostly. Always looking for idea for my picky son.

  • Erin

    Looks like a great bunch of books.

  • Jen

    Honestly, I have found my inspiration for packing creative lunches from you!

  • Donna Todd

    I find inspiration mostly on the Internet, and occasionally my best, who is a vegan, throws an idea my way.;)

  • Lesley

    Blogs and Pinterest!

  • Lisa Heineman

    I love bento blogs!! Pinterest has also been a great resourse!

  • Kristin Bogle

    I mostly get ideas from blogs and pinterest.

  • Melissa Montes

    My daughter is starting kinder in a few days and I’ve been searching online for ideas.

  • Sara G.

    From Laura Fuentes!

  • Cristi-Lael

    Honestly, I get most of my inspiration from your blog. It’s where I first realized that I could do this lunch thing. :o) Thank you for it.

  • Brittney Fusselman

    I’d love to win all of these!

  • Heather McElyea

    Pinterest! 🙂

  • Jessica Brenion Moncrief

    I need these as we just started doing bento luches and are always trying to come up with new ideas 🙂

  • Laura Chandler

    I have been searching for ideas on what to pack my boys for their school lunches so they get a variety and don’t end up with the same old things every day. I would love to have one of these books to help with that!

  • Ju Di

    I could really use these!

  • Jolynda

    I find inspiration from Pinterest.

  • alianora

    I’m constantly looking for inspiration – but it’s much more common for me to be searching through the fridge in the morning, wondering what on earth to pack.

  • Bonnie Kwok


  • Sarah

    These look fantastic!

  • Laura B

    Pinterest, and certain blogs. Including yours 🙂

  • Aleksandra

    blogs and daily life – like what we like etc. (chicken, penguins and some cute things, actual trip – sea, mountains…) – everything can be an inspiration!

  • waysmama

    I would love this book. I could definitely use some good, fresh ideas!

  • Krysti

    I enjoy making fun lunches for my girls! Would love to have more ideas and inspiration!

  • Kasia Frątczak

    Pinterest mostly!

  • Neko

    would love to win that book c:

  • Alisha

    I get all my inspiration from you! Thanks! You are awesome!

  • Cecilia Alessa

    I find inspiration through ideas on things I like and the one’s I care about and their tastes! I focus on crating things i know the other person will like so I can share a moment with them! Remembering someone’s likes and incorporating ti into food is a great way to also show “I take interest in your interests.” It’s a two-in-one-deal which someone will appreciate! <3

  • Andrea

    I love to look at Pinterest for inspiration

  • Kendra

    These would be great!

  • Pinterest!

  • Kim Klein

    I find a lot on Pinterest but I always need more!

  • Amber

    I would love a book to learn more about this!

  • Kelsey Taylor

    Would love these books.

  • jennsquared

    I find my inspiration here actually! And a friend of mine does the bento as well so I’ve been reading her blog a bit!

  • Karina Aldana K

    I am going to be looking for your book next time i go into the book store!

  • Nicole Jackson Ourjanian

    I find all the Facebook sites helpful and also get inspiration from my sister-in-law.

  • Lisa Redella

    These books are awesome and so helpful!!

  • Jen

    I like looking at Facebook (My Kid’s Lunch) and Pinterest for ideas.

  • Susie

    Pinterest. Occasionally I will browse a bento pic gallery, but usually it’s just stuff I come across on Pinterest.

  • Michelle P

    I find most of my inspiration on Pinterest!

  • Carrie Santabene Burnett

    Pinterest is my go to for ideas.

  • Theresa

    I like to search images on Google to find new inspiration for lunches.

  • ThisGirlCanBoard

    I just bought the weelicious book and I love it. But I am also a browser of Pinterest.

  • AmyC

    blogs and Pinterest!

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