I’ve been packing school lunches for my kiddos almost every day, for the last 7 years- that’s a lot of lunches! Do I love it? Nope. Why do I do it? Because I like knowing what my kids are eating. If you follow me on Instagram, you can see what I’m packing most days. I’m by no means a lunch packing expert, but I have learned a few things over the years.
My favorite lunch box products:
Some of the links below are Amazon affiliate links but please shop around for the best deal!
Lunch Containers– We’ve been using the PlanetBox for about 5 years now and I highly recommend them! They do cost more that other options, but they’re made from stainless steel and come with a 5 year warranty. Ours still look brand new! They make packing lunches fun and the kids love them! They can also be purchased directly from PlanetBox. If you’re not ready to invest that much into a lunch box, these work great too: Ziploc Container and Easy Lunchboxes ! We used them before buying the PlanetBoxes. I’ve never tried the YUMBOX , but I have heard great things about them!
Water Bottles– We’ve gone through so many water bottles, it’s ridiculous. We’ve tried several brands, but they’ve all ended in disappointment- broken lids, leaky bottles, missing pieces. I found these Bubba water bottles at Walmart a few months ago, and so far, they’ve held up well. I’m sure there will come a day when one gets broken, or goes missing, but at this price, I won’t cry over it like I’ve done with some of our more expensive ones!
Napkins– I invested in Cloth Napkins a couple years ago, and wish I’d done it sooner. FUNKINS Cloth Napkins come in super fun patterns, and they’ve been very durable! Walmart also has some cute Pioneer Woman napkins that we use too!
Thermos– A thermos is great for packing leftovers! We also use them for yogurt, milk (if I’m sending cereal), and oatmeal. We have the U Konserve brand.
Ice Packs– These Ice Packs are great, and I also have some cheap ones from Walmart. I try to keep a few extras in the freezer, for those mornings when I realize we forgot to re-freeze the ones from the day before!
Fun extras– I use Silicone Baking Cups to separate food, and Food Picks to make skewers (you can usually find plain food picks at the dollar store!). These cute little Animal Forks are great for younger children!
A few tips:
We love leftovers for lunch around here! When I’m planning our dinner menu for the week, I’ll try to think of ways to make our dinner stretch further so there will be enough for lunches too.
Pack the night before, if possible. Sometimes I’m so tired at night and the last thing I want to do is pack lunches, but I’m always so glad I did the next morning!
Think outside the box! Some of my kids favorite lunches aren’t what you would consider “lunch.” They love it when I send oatmeal, or peanut butter sandwiches made with whole wheat pancakes as the bread.
Spend a little time on the weekends making muffins to keep in the freezer, or hard boiled eggs to have on hand. Preparing as much as you can ahead of time can make your week go so much smoother!
Packing lunch every day can get boring! If you need some new ideas, Weelicious Lunches is a great resource! There are lots of great lunch accounts on Instagram, like Lala Lunchbox, and Super Foods for Kids. I also have a gallery of lunch ideas down below.
Get your kids involved! Let them help pick out what they want to eat, and then let them help pack it. My kids always eat more if they were involved in making it! I spent a little time re-arranging my kitchen so my kids can have a little “lunch packing station.” Now everything is where they can reach it!
Yogurt & chia seeds, strawberries, carrots & ranch, a whole wheat banana muffin, and a few chocolate chips.
Veggies & homemade ranch, leftover chicken, local grapes, raisins, pistachios, and a piece of Kyya chocolate chocolate.