The Best Tips and Ideas for Packing Your Child’s Lunchbox

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Hurry! The bus is coming! I can see it down the road! It still has to wind its way up around the neighborhood, thankfully, before it gets to our house, but we only have about 3 minutes! Oh no! I forgot to pack so-and-so’s lunch! Quick! What can I throw in her lunch bag?

This is me at least twice a week! You’d think I’d learn by now to be better prepared. My older girls are in charge of packing their own lunches if they don’t like what is on the school’s menu that day, but my younger girls aren’t quite responsible enough for that added chore in the mornings. If I were on top of my life and perfectly organized, I would think to have them all packed up in the evenings, BUT, I’m not. I’m a bit of a scatter-brain! And I might lean toward being a bit of a procrastinator as well.

With the help of my community of fellow moms from my kids’ school, and ideas gleaned from the big wide world of google search, my daughter and I have put together a list of quick school lunch ideas.

My goal is to have it constantly before my eyes, right on my refrigerator at MY eye level. I have also taken a picture of this Lunch Idea List with my phone so that I’ll always have it with me when I’m at the grocery store. I usually write “kids’ lunch stuff” on my grocery list, but standing in the aisles of the store, my brain freezes and all I can think of to grab are frozen individual-size pizzas and applesauce pouches. Needless to say, my kids are really sick of frozen pizzas and applesauce!

I am hoping this list will give my kids healthier options to pack for their school lunches, and give myself the peace of mind knowing they will actually EAT their lunches. Not many things make me feel crazier as a mom than my kids wasting food! Are you feeling my angst?

To go along with this awesome list you can post on YOUR refrigerator, I am also giving you some helpful tips to hopefully make packing your kids’ lunches a bit easier:

7 Best Tips to Make Packing Your Child’s Lunch a Breeze!

1 – Get your child a good lunch box or bagOne of my daughters just HAD to have a cute Hello Kitty lunchbox one year, and the price was right, so I went ahead and bought it for her. After about a week of her bringing her lunches home uneaten, I felt a little crazy about it. I asked her what in the world was going on, only to find out that she could not get the zipper open by herself, and was too shy to ask an adult at school to help her! I was so sad! She had been skipping lunch because of that darn zipper!!! Please check the zippers before you buy the lunchboxes! AAAAAHHHH!!! I’ve linked to a very cute round lunch tote so the zipper has no corners to get stuck on!


2 – Get your child a GOOD water bottle that won’t leakThere aren’t many things more frustrating than opening a lunchbox to find a soggy lunch! No one wants to eat a soggy sandwich, or anything else for that matter! (Unless, of course, you are one of the little boys in my daughter’s class who dips all his food into his milk to get a reaction out of all the girls, haha!) I recommend the Thermos brand. It is the only brand we’ve found that doesn’t leak all over! And it comes in so many different styles/pictures. If you have found a brand you love that doesn’t leak, please leave us a comment so we can all benefit from your wisdom!

3 – Buy some small plastic containers with lids that fit securely, but are easy enough for little hands to open. And don’t forget the zip-top baggies!  Kids don’t often eat large portions, so unless your child has the appetite of a teenage boy, keep your containers on the small side. I personally like to use the Ziploc brand containers because they snap tight, are easy to open, and are very inexpensive. This is a bonus because your child may accidentally throw them out or lose them. No biggie if you use these. 

4 – Make sure you have at least 2 brick-type ice packs for each child.  Chances are, they will leave one at school for days on end, and it is really helpful to have at least one backup! (Same goes for lunch bags! We have several “extras” and they are frequently needed! I guess my girls take after me in the memory department, haha!)

5 – Pack dinner leftovers directly into school lunch containers when cleaning up after dinner.  This will save you a little bit of time and a lot of dirty dishes!

6 – When deciding what to pack, keep this simple rule in mind:  PVCF (Protein, Veggie, Carbohydrate, Fruit)  If at all possible, try to give your child one food from each category. I know it isn’t always feasible, but it’s a great goal!

7 – Take a picture with your smart phone of my FREE printable Kids’ Lunch Ideas list.  This way you can always have a handy shopping ideas list with you at the grocery store, and will avoid falling into the trap of always buying the same things over and over for your kids’ lunches. I don’t know about you, but I rely a lot on my phone because I always have it with me. If I try to rely on a paper list, chances are I will leave it sitting on my counter!


I hope these tips will help you in your lunch-packing adventures! If you have any of your own tips that aren’t listed above, please leave a comment so we can all improve and benefit from each other’s experiences!

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