School Lunch Ideas

Back to school means back to making school lunches for the crew. Last September is when I really started preparing lunches at home for the kids to take to school. Depending on the school lunch menu, I was making 2/3 kids’ lunches at least three days out of the week. My youngest is very picky and didn’t want school lunch unless it was breakfast for lunch (i.e.: French toast sticks, etc.). For anyone planning on packing lunches, whether it’s your first time or if you need some fresh ideas or inspo, we’ve got the 4-1-1 for a successful school year!

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Let’s start with containers! Kristy’s son is a picky eater, so these Bentgo boxes are perfect when putting together a lunch that kids can graze on with a variety of items that hopefully they are interested in that day because, well, kids…one day they love one thing and the next day they won’t touch it! Bentgo is leak-proof and some of the Bentgo boxes have ice packs – they’re called Bentgo Chill Boxes.

I have an Omie box for my youngest daughter. She isn’t a big eater and prefers turkey and cheese with mustard as her entree, or if we have left over spaghetti or mac ‘n’ cheese, I’ll fill up her thermos bowl with boiling water and let it sit while I heat up her leftovers, dump the water and replace with the meal – it keeps it at the perfect temperature until her lunch time. Add a couple of snacks and she’s good to go!

Anyone else wonder why most kids lunch boxes are so small?! It’s often hard to find items that are able to fit. Kristy found these sandwich containers for her daughter’s lunch bag. These are reusable, easy to open and close, and are safe for the freezer too.

I came across these snap-lock lunch box containers last year and they also fit well in my kids’ lunch boxes…we have ones from Pottery Barn Kids. They are slightly bento-inspired with a couple different compartments. They are not leak-proof, but they get the job done.

I use Ello containers to make fresh fruit cups and SnapLock dip cups for ranch dressing or other condiments so that there are no spills or leaks. I like to use silicone muffin cups as a space-saver to place snacks like pretzels, goldfish, cookies and more for easy access. My favorite score last year was these Ello on the go cutlery sets. I love using them over plastic utensils.

Kristy gets creative with her son’s lunches since he is the pickiest eater! She uses fun cookie cutters to make different shapes for his sandwiches – and she says that they have actually helped! The smaller shapes can be used for fruits like melons and apples. Don’t forget about the cutters to make homemade uncrustables

Does anyone else find that there’s never enough room for ice packs?! When you’re packing lunch meat and/or cheese sandwiches and items like yogurt and cheese sticks, you need it! Kristy found these fun character thin ice packs that fit perfectly.

PRO TIP: If you have a gogurt kid, freeze the gogurts and use them as ice packs! They keep your items cool, and it thaws out just in time for lunch!

For thermoses, we’ve been through the wringer with trying to find ones that are great at keeping their drinks cold and NOT leaking everywhere! These are my go-tos! 

  • Simple Modern – they come in two sizes and some fun patterns
  • Hydroflask – these are great for sports and with having to personalize everything, there’s a nice sleeve you can add your kiddo’s name to
  • Thermoflask – keeps beverages ice-cold for 24 hrs, and hot for up to 12 hrs with double-wall and vacuum insulation
  • MIIR – MiiR is a family-owned company based in Seattle, Washington, and their products are insulated and leak-proof
  • Thermos – if your kids have sensitivities and prefer a softer straw, these are great, and of course they come in fun designs

Liquid IV recently came out with kids’ hydration multiplier packs, so Kristy grabbed all of the flavors and will include them in her kids’ lunch routines, putting them in their thermoses because they drink way more water with them!

Frito-Lay has an ultimate snack package which offers 40 assorted varieties of chips, cookies, crackers and more! Perfect for lunches, on-the-go students or teachers – if you’d like to gift a snack!

If your child happens to be in a class with a gluten and/or nut allergy, fortunately Walmart has a great selection for school-friendly snacks!

Grab and go variety snacks from Amazon are perfect not only for lunches, but also for those afterschool activities like softball, CCD, tumbling, soccer, karate, or gymnastics. It’s also a great grab for a teacher/class donation!

There’s nothing like a handwritten note from a loved one, but this year the trend is adorable little note/joke cards to put in their lunch box each day! They have riddles, fun facts, brain teasers and some giggles and laughs! There are also holiday specific ones too!

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