Packing the Perfect Lunch

school lunch
Image via iStock

As the kids start back to school, so does the daily routine of packing lunch. While it can be a challenge to come up with the right tools and foods, we've got some tips to get you started on packing the perfect lunch.

Image via Mabel's Labels

Let your kiddo pick out the perfect lunchbox.

Make sure that it has adequate insulation and will fit enough food for your needs. Also be sure to label it clearly with your child's name. If your child has issues like food allergies, you can get labels to help indicate that as well. My son has a peanut allergy, and we've had great luck with the Mabel's Labels allergy safety labels.

Image via Contigo

Get a leak-proof water bottle.

We've had to deal with a backpack full of soggy papers due to a leaky water bottle. Finding the right water bottle makes a big difference in the daily routine. Our new favorite in this department is the Contigo Autospout Striker Chill. This keeps the water cold all day, the stainless steel holds up to their abuse, and it is the right size for my elementary-aged kids. The cover keeps the spout clean and it fits perfectly in the side pouch on their lunches or backpacks. Winner!

Image via Enjoy Life Foods

Find the right snacks.

Many schools are limiting options to keep all kids safe. Luckily, finding allergen-free snacks is easier (and tastier) than it has ever been. Enjoy Life makes snacks free from all the top allergens, including nuts, gluten, soy, and dairy. We're digging the Seed and Fruit trail mix that even my picky eaters gobble up. And instead of some of the less-healthy versions of chips, I can send them the Plentils chips with no guilt. Their top pick? Margherita Pizza flavor. (I know it sounds like something only a kid could like, but they're seriously tasty with just the right amount of flavor!)

Other great snacks:

  • get a large container of Goldfish, animal crackers, or pretzels and divide into smaller snack bags for a budget-friendly option
  • sliced fruits
  • apples, clementines, or bananas
  • popcorn
  • sliced veggies


Image via Amazon

Make your own lunchable-style meals.

For the past eight years I've been using these Sassy On-the-Go feeding sets. Seriously – eight years! For something to last that long in my house it has to be durable, useful, and easy. I can portion out a lunch (half a sandwich, a handful of fruit, a small snack or treat), seal it up, and toss it right into their lunchboxes. But my kids love when I make them their own personalized lunchable meals. A few slices of lunchmeat, a few pieces of cheese, and some crackers can all go into the separate containers that fit into the larger box. Nothing gets soggy or smashed before lunch!

Some options for other things to include:

  • hummus with pita slices or crackers
  • muffins – from blueberry to zucchini
  • tortillas rolled with cream cheese and jelly
  • cold chicken nuggets
  • grilled cheese sandwich fingers
  • yogurt with granola and fruit
  • beans and rice
  • salad fixings with an included dressing dipper
Image via Enjoy Life Foods

A little treat is always a fun bonus.

Again, Enjoy Life is a winner here, with their new Soft Baked Mini Cookies. A just-right portion that is sweet and safe.

Other great lunchbox treats:

  • a Hershey kiss or two
  • yogurt covered raisins
  • cereal
  • mini marshmallows
  • fruits of all kinds
  • yogurt
Image via Say Please

Sometimes a little love note can make your day.

You always love your kids, but it can be difficult to come up with ways to express that before your coffee kicks in each morning. That's why these Lunchbox Love notes come in super-handy. You can choose from a variety of options, including riddles and messages for kids of all ages.

{ MORE: Who Needs Me Time? I Like Being With Our Kids }

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Packing the Perfect Lunch

Sara McTigue is a secret agent, cupcake chef, award winning author, photographer, and PTA mom. At least, that is how things look in her mind. When she isn’t testing the bounds of her imagination, she is a mom to three amazing and hilariously funny children, wife to a charming and handsome man, and thoroughly addicted to reading. With a BS in English Education and an MA in English Literature, words – and their ability to shape our lives and thoughts – are an everyday fascination. Af ... More

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