My oldest child just started first grade. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little overwhelmed by the idea of making school lunches each day. I’m not the mom who sends intense animal themed meals nor am I the the one sending him a Coke and a Butterfinger. I consider myself a “middle of the road” mom. I like to know my kiddo has healthy options and variety. I don’t mind taking a little extra effort some days to make him feel special (and convince him to eat more!).
No matter where you lie on the “school lunch mom” spectrum, there are some great supplies and tools out there to make the process a little less painful. We’ve polled our readers and talked to the experts (I mean, who knows more than real moms!?) to round up some basic supplies you need to bust out some killer school lunches.
No more school cardboard pizza or mystery fish shapes!
1. Bento Box
Bento boxes are taking lunch by storm and we can see why. Just search Pinterest and a million and a half ideas come up! They allow you to pack lunches into compartments which stay fresher and in better shape that the usual plastic baggie. Also, we have found the smaller portions seem to encourage our child to eat more. It’s not as daunting!
There are lots of options when it comes to Bento boxes, as well as a range of prices. Shelley’s favorite are PLANET BOX. They’re an investment initially, but they are extremely high quality, wash easy, and avoid issues (like smell). She swears, along with many others, they’re worth the money. One reader said hers lasted 9 years.
If you’re on a tighter budget, THESE are another great option with decent reviews. I like that they’re a harder plastic. Some of the cheapest ones are fine for temporary, but you will be replacing them a few months or washes down the line. They have a great price point if you’re on a budget and fit in most lunch boxes.
2. Fun Bites
I don’t know why, but whenever I use these fun bites to cut up my kids’ foods, they eat more. Maybe it’s just because it’s cute! I love these fun bites because they’re inexpensive, and make for a super easy and convenient way to “fancy” up lunch. And yes, if you want to use a knife to cut up a million shapes, more power to you. For me, it’s worth a few dollars when it comes to saving time. Plus, without it, my shapes start to look like crazy, unidentifiable lumps. Let’s just say I didn’t get an “A” in art.
I tried using a knife. I tried using cookie cutters. I came back to THESE. They’re expensive and work well. I feel like they’re just a tad stronger than a regular cookie cutter. I’ve used them on cucumbers, carrots, and zucchini.
I also found THESE animal shapes which would be really fun! What about making homemade “Lunchables” in animal form?
This is a game changer. Read the reviews! I love that this 10 oz size is perfect for kids and lunch boxes. Be sure to warm it up when you pack the food! It’s said to keep things warm for 6 hours. I especially like these because I often pack leftovers from dinner the night before. It saves so much time and money! There are some bigger options HERE.
Juice boxes can get pricey and let’s be honest, they’re often PACKED full of sugar. I’m always trying to get my kiddos to drink more water, and this has been the best solution. They (and I) am obsessed with these mini Camelbacks. I love my own, so it was a no brainer! They range in price depending on the design (lots of darling ones), but are much cheaper in the long run than all those juice boxes! (The best priced ones are HERE) I haven’t had a problem with them leaking.
Anyone elses kids hate when their food touches? I’m in my 30’s and it still bothers me! These silicone baking cups are a great solution to keeping food seperated. Plus, something about the bright colors just makes you smile!
Another fun way to pack snacks and avoid 50,000 plastic bags. We often use these tubes to take snacks on the go. PLUS you can also freeze things in them – great popsicles!
8. Egg Molds
If your kids are egg eaters, these are so awesome! I love adding them as forms of protein! I’ve also heard (but not tried, you can put sandwiches in them and make a sort of “sandwich” ball. Someone try it and tell me how it goes!
Having a difficult time coming up with ideas for lunch? This is a GREAT resource.
I’m obsessed with Weelicious and all Catherine’s amazing, healthy, and easy ideas. Seriously, she’s talented! My kids like to look through the pictures and “choose” what to eat.
10. Food Picks
Okay, YES I realize these are totally unnecessary, but darn it – THEY’RE CUTE! And FUN! and EASY!
They have like every animal known to man and I’m just sort of obsessed. Be sure to scroll down HERE to see all the different choices!
OH! And don’t forget those sweet lunchbox love notes
So, there you have it – a few ideas of how to spice lunch up and be the overachieving, (but not TOO overachieving) parent!
These really are great and simple ways to make lunch a bit more exciting for your favorite little people. I bet, you’ll see less food wasted when you employ a few of these tactics!
Do you have any ideas or products to add to this list? Anything make life a little easier for you?