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New to Packing Your Kid’s Lunch? Here’s What You Should Know

A mom packing lunches with her two children in a brightly lit kitchen.
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

As the summer days sizzle away and the school year fast approaches, packed lunches will soon find their way into your busy schedule. If you’re new to packing a lunch, no worries—we’ve got your back.

Get a Quality Lunch Box

A reliable, compact lunch box that will keep food fresh and cold is helpful. But with dozens of both cheap and pricey options available, it’s sometimes hard to know which one is best.

The classic L.L.Bean Lunch Box meets all the essential requirements of a child’s lunch box. It’s just the right size and fits nicely in a crowded fridge or stuffed backpack. It also comes in many colors and is easy to clean.

Leftovers Make Great Lunches

Packing leftovers for lunch is an excellent idea—especially if it’s your child’s favorite meal. Plus, it reduces food waste.

Keep in mind, though, that most kids don’t have access to microwaves, so you’ll likely have to get creative or invest in a few accessories, like a good thermos (see below).

Ice Packs, Thermoses, and Tupperware

Make sure to always include an icepack in your child’s lunch box to keep cold foods cold and safe for consumption. Thermoses make exceptional storage containers for hot meals, as they maintain the temperature for several hours. They work really well for foods like mac and cheese, or your kid’s favorite ravioli dinner.

For snacks and other foods, use little ziplock bags. Or, you can save on plastic with reusable food storage containers. Children’s Bentgo boxes work well for organizing lunch and snacks.

Pack Lunches the Night Before

You’ve probably heard that it’s best to pack lunches the night before. In fact, right after dinner is the best time because all the food is still out on the counter and readily available.

You know how busy mornings can be, so save yourself the additional stress by helping your kids prepare their lunches the night before.

Get the Kids Involved

A mother helping her two children pack their own lunches.
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

One of the most important things you can do is get your child involved in packing his or her lunch at a young age. It will prepare them to eventually pack their own.

It’s also a sure way to know they’ll have foods they want to eat, while also helping them make healthy choices. This doesn’t mean giving them full access to the pantry, but, rather, offering wholesome options they’ll love.

Stock the Fridge and Pantry with Lunch Snacks

Preparedness and organization are crucial when it comes to packing lunches. Take the time to organize a section in your fridge and pantry with snacks you can easily throw in a lunch box.

Keep sliced fruits and veggies in the fridge and stock your countertop with oranges and bananas. Other grab-and-go options include string cheese, applesauce cups (or squeeze packets), granola bars, and bags of baby carrots.

Think Beyond Sandwiches

A packed lunch doesn’t have to mean soggy sandwiches. Even if PB&J is convenient, there are so many other options that won’t require any additional work.

Whether it’s a whole grain bagel with cream cheese or sliced cheesy quesadillas, there are plenty of options you can choose from.

Pack the Food Groups

Your child’s lunch makes up about 1/3 of her daily nutrients if she eats three meals a day, so stuff it with healthy options. Do your best to pack a balanced lunch because kids get those post-lunch energy slumps, too!

Include all the food groups, but encourage your kids to try new foods before you pack them for their lunch. This way, you’ll know it won’t end up in the trash. Adding healthy options will also give your child the energy he needs to learn and have fun throughout his action-packed day.


Fuel your little ones with nutritious, appealing foods they’ll love to munch on! It’ll help them stay alert so they can concentrate during those long school days.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »

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