Mastering the Art of Packed School Lunches

Ana Rial provides a compilation of the arduous research about school lunches and lunch boxes done by members of the Amsterdam Mamas community.

In this country where school cafeterias are the exception rather than the norm, parents face the daily challenge of packing lunches for their little ones. It’s tricky trying to provide a balance: nutritious food, the school's rules, the amount of time the children have to eat, and the exclusive palate of our little darlings. The ever-so-helpful members of the Amsterdam Mamas community have shared many tips and links that will make our packed school lunches worthy of “Pinteresting”.

Where to go for lunch ideas

Nom Nom Paleo offers ideas based on whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense nourishing foods. They also have an app so we can search for ideas on the go.

The blog 100 Days of Real Food is a fantastic site, with ideas for picky eaters and special diets as well.

Cafe Mom gives a list of seven creative ideas/recipes that are kid-friendly, fast, simple, and nutritious, with links to more sites with more ideas.

With a printable lunchbox idea list, the mom-blogger at Wendolonia knows the struggle too well. As she puts it:

a tired parent leans forward with one arm holding the refrigerator door open, eyes scanning the shelves for something to pack into a lunch box. What do we have in the house? What do we have that’s healthy? What do we have that he/she will eat?

Find ideas for the whole family, including vegetarian and grain-free/dairy-free recipes at MOMables.

Like the agendas in the Dalton education system, Super Healthy Kids will help you keep organized the whole week. Check out their app to help you plan ahead with menus and grocery lists. 

If your kid is a big fan of sandwiches Slow Robot is the place to go, with 30 examples of innovative sandwiches – one for each day of the month!

Find a downloadable weekly lunchbox planning form at Just Bento – available in English, German, French, Portuguese, Norwegian, and Hungarian.

Watch really encouraging videos from Tasty Junior on YouTube, with recipe ideas to prepare for and with the little ones, and not just for lunchboxes. Here are a few to get you started: Back-to-School Lunch Prep Hacks4 Back-to-School Lunchesand Hacks to Make Packing Your Morning Lunches Easier.

And if you happen to be the lucky owner of a Thermomix, you can find fabulous lunchbox-friendly recipes at Thermo Bliss.  

Bento Boxes  

A Bento box is basically a lunch box with several compartments. Bento Boxes have gotten very popular recently as they help provide a nutritious and varied meal presented in small portions. These divided meals are very appealing to the eyes of our little ones.

Fellow Mama, Joanna Monkhouse, is the person to reach out to within the community, in her store at Binnen Brouwersstraat 36 in the centre of Amsterdam, or you can check out her products online

Stainless steel drinking bottles, and glass and stainless steel bread/lunch boxes are available at greenjump. All their products are free of BPA, heavy metals, hormone-disrupting substances, and softeners.

De leukste lunch is run by a creative local mom who was inspired by Japanese lunch sites when struggling with a picky eater at home. In her site you can find everything from allergy stickers to egg molds.

The epitome of cuteness, BentoUSA offers all types of bento boxes and accessories shipped directly from the USA. Their products are difficult to resist, even considering that shipping charges do not include international taxes or duties. Kawaii!

Run by a mom of two, bentofabriek sells different bento boxes and accessories as well as a starter package. You can also find interesting bento recipes in her kids' food blog.

Camelbak specializes in water bottles, both standard and insulated types, and comes highly recommended by the Mamas for our little ones’ drinks.

Founded by two Amsterdam friends who share a passion for Japanese culture and cuisine, roppongi markets the French brand Monbento. They also have an Instagram account for inspiration @jimisbento.

Another site highly recommended by the Mamas, Planetbox, ships from California. Their stainless steel lunch boxes and accessories are made to last.

As a parent of a picky and slow eater, this mom has grasped the concept of variety in her daily life. Among the diverse bento boxes you can find on her site Super Lunch you will find the lovely Boho-Tiffins, traditional Indian stacking trays of stainless steel, and clearly the best choice for the hippest member of the house.

Bento boxes of the Aladdin brand are available at Amazon UKBol, and De Bijenkorf.

The London-based company Tyrell Katz offers colorful and playful lunch and snack boxes, drinking bottles, and other school items.

And in case you are a last-minute mama, any Blokker store will have lunch boxes that will sort you out in a pinch.

With all these tricks from Amsterdam Mamas, you will soon become one of the Bento Sensei of the city.


Ana Rial is a once rigorously-organised scientist from Spain turned into an all-over-the-place mum of two very busy half-Greek boys. She has been living for the past four years in Almere with her husband and kids and dreams about mastering the Dutch language, travelling, and having a personal chef.

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