The calendar tells me it’s that time again: Time to round up the year with something, before we get to the January meal plan and march boldly ahead into 2016. Last year, I did a roundup of the 14 best lunches of 2014; now, not to reinvent any perfectly good wheels, I’m rolling up my proverbial sleeves to go at it again. 2015 this time…15 lunches…and GO.

As with last year, I didn’t do anything utterly scientific to choose these lunches. I just went with a combination of audience enthusiasm, kid enthusiasm, and my own feelings about the lunches as I reflect on them at a bit of a distance. Here’s hoping that something I include below inspires you and gets your 2016 lunch-packing efforts off to an auspicious start!

Red, Round or Green’s 15 Best Lunches of 2015

#15. The Lunch with the Cake

There is no mystery, in my mind, as to why you all liked this lunch so much. I mean, CAKE. Also, it’s a really easy throw-together, if you look at it, and pretty accessible for most kids’ palates. But still. I’m pretty sure all that enthusiasm was for the cake.

Pasta with Broccoli lunch

Egg noodles with broccoli, butter and parmesan
Applesauce or grapes
Apples with peanut butter or smoked salmon
Pumpkin chocolate chip cake

#14. The Thermos of What they Like Lunch

A good thermos lunch is a great thing to have handy. Two good thermos lunches in one photo is a perfectly understandable reason for all those “likes.” In this one, the lunches LOOK similar, but under the lids were two totally different items, to suit the boys’ different palates.

Thermos lunches

Cheddar bunnies
Beef stew with vegetables or scrambled eggs
Cheese cubes

#13. The DIY Lunchable Lunch

Everybody likes a DIY Lunchable-style meal, I’ve realized — and Momma likes them perhaps best of all, because they’re easy to pack. You clearly agreed, as this one makes the top lunches list for the year.

DIY Lunchables

Nitrate free salami
Pecan or cheddar crackers
Oranges or berries
Sungold Tomatoes
Cucumbers or purple beans

#12: The Breakfast for Lunch

It doesn’t matter how many times I post breakfast options in a lunchbox, or how many different spins I put on it: You all love these lunches. Kids do, too. If we’re all honest with ourselves, we’d probably have to admit that eggs or pancakes or French toast or bacon would sound good any old time of day, and it does make a nice change from the usual parade of sandwiches and salads. I think this one got extra love from you all because of the nice bright colors.

Pancake lunch

Mini whole wheat pancakes, either with syrup or sandwiched with pb and jam
Sauteed broccolini
Hard boiled eggs
Oranges or strawberries
Dark chocolate chips

#11: The Burger Sandwich Lunch

I don’t know what it is about this one. Maybe it’s the simplicity? The kid appeal factor? Something about this really resonated with you all. Maybe it’s just the chocolate chips.

Burger sandwich lunch

Grass-fed burger on whole wheat with lettuce
PeppersApple slices with peanut butter and chocolate chips

#10: The Steak and Spinach Lunch

This one was TOTALLY about the colors, right? I mean, come on. So pretty. I could look at this lunch all day. And the kids said it was pretty good to eat, too.

Steak and spinach lunch

Steak wrapped in spinach
Berries and grapes
Corn and tomato salad
Annie’s “farm” crackers

#9: The Dutch Baby Lunch

Novelty factor. These squares of oven-puffed pancake, packed with egg and milk and served with pumpkin butter for dipping, got lots of questions and interest from readers who were intrigued by the idea and thought it looked like an easy way to satisfy selective little eaters. “Puffy pancake” is a big hit around here at pretty much any time of day!

Dutch baby lunch

Whole wheat Dutch Baby
Pumpkin butter
Snow peas

#8: The “Favorite Rolls” Lunch

What’s not to like? They’re simple, they’re attractive, and they represent two different kid palate types: One salty/savory and adventurous, the other sweet-leaning and more cautious. That, plus the high “doability” factor of this lunch photo helped it crack the Top 10 for this year.


Banana and peanut butter tortilla rollup or smoked salmon and greens rollup

#7: The Chicken Patty Sandwich Lunch

This one is cafeteria fare taken to a healthier, homemade level — which got your votes! I packed this for my elementary boys, but we all know a teenager (or heck, a grownup) who’d love to mow this down mid-day.

Chicken patty sandwich lunch


Homemade chicken patty with tomato and greens on whole wheat bun

#6: The Fun Hot Dog Lunch

Anything that looks like a totally kid-friendly, fun lunchbox tends to get lots of attention, and this lunch was no exception. I packed it on a day before the kids had a long weekend, so they’d have a little thrill to get their break started on the right foot.

Hot dog spears lunch


Nitrate free hot dog spears
Romaine lettuce
Blueberry applesauce
Carrot coins and sauerkraut or strawberries and cucumbers

#5: The Chicken Parm Slider Lunch

This was the first official school lunch of the year, and your enthusiasm for it kept it in the top 5 for 12 months! I guess not many of us can resist the allure of breaded chicken with cheese, marinara, and a soft roll.

Chicken parm sliders

Chicken parmigiana sliders
Annie’s bunny fruit snacks

#4: The Hubby Lunch

Invariably, whenever I post a picture of something I’ve packed for J., people go crazy for it. I think there are two factors at play there: 1) Those who are trying to feed themselves or big-eating family members over the age of 12 like to see a heartier meal; and 2) Taking the time to pack for J., even though he usually does it himself, is a thing I do because I love him. And we all give a thumbs-up to love!

Soup and sandwich hubby lunch

Chicken salad and lettuce on buttered homemade sourdough
Homemade chicken noodle soup
Homemade Cookies
Cheddar cheese cubes
Pretzels with coconut butter

#3: The Teriyaki Lunches

These are pretty, I have to admit, and they look a lot more complicated than they actually were. L. said that this lunch looked like a bento box from his favorite Japanese restaurant, and clearly, you agreed!

Teriyaki lunch

Teriyaki pork on greens
Peppers and cucumbers
Rice balls wrapped in seaweed

#2: The Other Hubby Lunch

You just couldn’t get enough of the hubby lunches! This one is definitely a top lunch as far as I’m concerned — mostly just dinner leftovers, so it wasn’t hard to pull together, but it was surely well-received (and tasty)!

Chicken taco hubby lunch

Chicken soft taco filling
Whole wheat tortillas
Lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheddar
Mini pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
Dried apples and raisins
Yogurt parfait with maple syrup and bananas

#1: The Egg Sandwich Lunch

It’s always fun for me to see what the most-liked lunch of the year was, because it’s almost never the one I would have chosen! For me, the teriyaki lunch probably should have come out on top, but this egg sandwich seemed to capture your attention.

Egg sandwich lunch

Egg on whole wheat sourdoughApple slices with cinnamon and sugar
Green beans
O cereal with dark chocolate chips

That’s it: The top 15 lunches of 2015, as selected (unscientifically) by RRG readers. Now go have a Happy New Year, and I’ll be back packing in 2016!