The Best Way to Pack School Lunch

(Image credit: Christine Han)

Packing school lunch is a chore that I adore. Still, with two kids and 10 lunches each week, there’s always room for improvement. That’s why, this week, I asked our readers for their tips and tricks for packing lunches — and they had plenty to say.

Here’s some of their best advice.

1. Mix things up.

To stave off boredom (for you and your kids), variety — in terms of taste, texture, and color — is key.

Variety, color and creativity. – BillKottner
Include a variety of tastes and textures to keep yourself/your kids from getting bored. Also, snack-based lunches are super easy to pack (think: some fruit, some crunchy veggies, some nuts, a drink, and a protein). – Mumbles15
I pack nibbles. A few crackers, a peeled cutie orange, cubed deli meat ( or chunked leftover chicken), a spoonful of m&m’s or 1 slice of a candy bar, and baby carrots. Alternatively a small salad with deli meat ( no crackers). – SadDeskLunch

2. But repetition is okay, too.

Incorporating variety into your kids’ lunches doesn’t have to mean doing something different every single day. It’s okay — and even good — to have some sort of lunch routine.

Kids (and even adults, though they don’t want to admit it) enjoy the familiarity and routine of mealtime and what they want to eat. That’s why it seems like everyone has a ” comfort food ” they always want to go back to and tend to resist trying new or unusual foods. Schools take advantage of that by offering a predictable schedule of food rather than thinking up new recipes. Kids never seem to get sick of Nugget Day, Pizza Friday, or Taco Tuesday. – Mobotropolis
Same menu mon-fri every week. Meatball sub bites, quesadilla with ham, peanut butter and honey (or nut butter and honey), raspberry and mascarpone pinwheels, and then “snack tray” day. Fruits rotate, veggies rotate, snacks rotate. – Amy Splawn
My kids will do a variation on the same thing everyday. Sandwich, yogurt, fruit, pretzels. So you can change the sandwich one day, the fruit the next day, the yogurt the next and some other type of chip/pretzel. So there’s a formula, you just change one of the ingredients – Danny White

3. Get the kids involved!

When the eaters (i.e., your kids) are involved in the packing process, it means less work for you — and they’re more likely to actually eat their lunch.

Involve the children in the making of their school lunches from the earliest days and hand the duty over to them entirely as soon as possible! – Mary Frances Ellison
Both children are old enough to pack their own lunches. On Sunday do some prep with them like portioning out snacks from large packages to single servings, preping sandwich fillings and such. When children are involved in the prep they’re more likely to eat the food. – mdorothy

4. Packaging matters.

This is especially true if you’re opting for lots of smaller, snack-sized options or anything that might leak.

Bento boxes are a must-have and ziploc stopped making the one we like. However, Amazon Basic Bento has come through for us with these. Very similar and BPA free. – Josie Knackers
Also, pricey but we’ve been pleased with Planet Box. It’s a good lunch box for my daughter’s age. – Amy Splawn
I use a Bentgo so when you open it there are 5 leak proof containers – one lid. – SadDeskLunch
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