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How to Make Homemade Lunchables (Make It or Buy It?)

How to Make Homemade Lunchables: Don’t pay full price for these things — and, get better quality!

How to make homemade Lunchables

Recently one of my local grocery stores had basic Lunchables on sale five for $5.00, and Mr. 10 was begging me to buy them. For some reason he loves these things — I think it’s the novelty, perhaps, because I generally refuse to pay for them. (And is it just me, or is the meat in them just so weird in texture?! 🙂 )

a homemade lunchable

But what else does Mr. 10 love? Well, he really loves this bite size salami from ALDI, and he really loves putting together his own lunch combinations. Soooo… let’s DIY some (slightly better quality) copycat Lunchables today, shall we?

So: What’s better about Homemade Lunchables?

These DIY “Lunchables” contain real cheese (rather than “pasteurized cheese product”) and better quality lunch meat. All of the ingredients I purchased at ALDI today ran me just slightly more per lunch than buying basic Lunchables on sale: $6.77 for enough to make six homemade Lunchables. (Other than the bag of mandarins, which, well — you really should throw fruit into a basic Lunchables lunch anyway!) And, I still have half a box of crackers and quite a few clementines left over for other purposes.

homemade lunchables ingredients

Homemade Lunchables ingredients

In order to make six of these DIY Lunchables, at ALDI today I picked up:

  • One box of Savoritz buttery round crackers, $1.39
  • One 8 oz package of Appleton Farms bite size salami, $3.49
  • One 8 oz package of Happy Farms sliced Swiss cheese, $1.89
  • One 3 lb bag of mandarins, $2.99

That came to $9.76 total, which works out to $1.67 per lunch (including fruit!) — with quite a few crackers and mandarins left over. If you’d like to just use those up or are making a week of Lunchables for two kids, you could add in a second pack of salami and second pack of cheese for another $5.38. This would give you sufficient ingredients to make twelve Lunchables total, dropping your cost to just $1.26 per lunch.

Homemade Lunchables containers

You’ll also need a handy container to hold your copycat Lunchables. I tend to use either:

You can also simply use plastic sandwich and snack baggies to separate the ingredients inside your child’s lunch bag; it’s less cute (and less environmentally friendly), but just as efficient.

assemble the lunchables

Assembling your Lunchables

Place eight buttery round crackers in one compartment of your lunch container. Cut your cheese to be cracker-sized (noting that you’ll have 11 slices of cheese in an 8 oz pack, so you’ll want to go slightly smaller than quarters here and some crackers will make do with two smaller slices rather than one larger one).

If using deli lunch meat or leftovers, also slice your meat cracker-sized. Just place the cheese and eight pieces of meat in separate compartments of your lunch container, add in a clementine or other fruit of your choice, and your homemade Lunchable is done.

Change up your DIY Lunchables

You can customize these homemade Lunchables for your own child’s (or spouse’s…) taste. Mr. 10 loves salami and Swiss; maybe your child would enjoy some quality deli roast beef and cheddar, or leftover thinly sliced turkey or ham with provolone. You could also easily make these gluten free by substituting your favorite GF cracker for the knockoff Ritz I used here.

Homemade Lunchables still aren’t health food, of course…

Any way you slice it: Cheese, crackers, and salami is not what dieticians’ dreams are made of. I do, however, feel a bit better about feeding Mr. 10 this homemade version than I do about picking up the pre-packaged variety — and he’s clearly not eating homemade Lunchables every day! Here he still occasionally gets all the fun of assembling his own lunch, without having to resort to purchasing pre-packaged.

More Make it or Buy It Ideas

If you’re looking for more “make it or buy it” ideas and recipes, read more here:

Anything else you’d like to see covered in these categories? Comment here!


Thursday 11th of April 2024

Found you here in 2024 after reading about how cheap Lunchables really are, including high Lead levels! Never occurred to me that they are actually mini charceuterie boards! I don't have an Aldi near me here in Chicago but I don't think that will prevent me from enjoying your recipes, like Greek Tortellini salad: yes please!

11 Easy School Lunch Recipes - Parental Space

Sunday 19th of August 2018

[…] kids love those store bought preservative filled Lunchables. Check out these healthy and fun Homemade Lunchables from Mashup […]


Friday 17th of November 2017

My son loves a homemade pizza lunchable. Premade mini crust, a squirt of pizza quick sauce in a small lidded bowl, shredded mozzarella, and either pepperoni or bacon bits. Add an apple and a cookie!


Thursday 28th of September 2017

Don't forget to add your homemade Danimals yogurt smoothie to this tasty lunch! :-)


Thursday 28th of September 2017

LOL! :) Thanks again for that idea.