I am not often starting from scratch every morning. My freezer is my lunch life saver (also my dinner life saver). Spaghetti and chicken noodle soup are lunch favorites. I freeze lunch size portions in mason jars. I pop them in the fridge the night before, into the microwave in the morning and into his Thermos. I like using mason jars because they are great in the freezer and microwave. I also batch make and freeze things like: Sunbutter and jam roll ups, cream cheese and cinnamon pin wheels, mini pizzas, quesadillas and smoothies. I always make his lunch the night before, so things thaw in the fridge overnight. I find it takes some of the crazy out of the morning rush. I also keep homemade mini-muffins, pumpkin loaf, mini-naan breads, individual hummus portions, pancakes and waffles in the freezer, I store them in large ziptop bags so I can see what there is. This allows me to offer a variety of foods while minimizing waste. I cannot stand food waste.
I do follow a sort of formula for building his lunch. I aim for an entrée type item, a fruit, a veggie, a snacky type item and a protein food (cheese, Greek yogurt, seeds, nuts, nut butter for dipping, etc). I only send water to drink. I often include some kind of treat like food, but I keep the portions small, so he doesn't fill up on it and ignore the rest of his lunch.
Hudson was not really a veggie guy. At the start of school he only ate carrots. By adding a few things into his lunch he has expanded to celery, snap peas and raw green beans. That is enough to float my lunch making boat right there. Cucumbers are still a no go. He also added pears and raspberries to his fruit repertoire.
So onto the food: