The Best Products for Packing School Lunches
I think most people would agree packing lunches takes some effort. If you are like me, planning dinner out each week seems exhausting. I dread planning lunch too!
But we are a large family living on a budget. Lunch out everyday times 5 people is a budget buster. And leftovers? Ha, what is that?
Not long ago, I created a system for lunch. I wanted lunch to be a no-brainer thing I did every week. No extra planning or hours of prep. My goal is to have 5 lunches packed and prepped before the coffee is brewed each morning.
Over the years, I’ve tried lots of tools to make this happen. I’ve compiled the best tools for making school lunches that are FAST and healthy! More importantly, they will keep your family on a budget.
This post contains affiliate links which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link.
The Best Products to Pack School Lunches FAST
Divided containers. I love this product. It has single-handedly changed the way I pack lunch. We also bought his one and LOVE it! They wash in the dishwasher-safe. Keep food divided and fresh. Most importantly, I can lay all the containers down on the counter and pack lunch FAST!
Slim ice packs. For years, we used ice pack bags to keep lunches cold. I switched to slim packs and never looked back! They can slide in your freezer without taking up too much space and don’t crush things in your kid's lunch boxes. They are a must in my book.
Silicone muffin cups. I started using silicone muffin cups to reduce waste. Anything I used to put in a baggie, I use a silicone cup now. These cups are dishwasher safe. They keep food separate in your divided container. These cups are great for a DIY Lunchable or for kids who prefer for food to be separate.
Easy to clean lunch box. I don’t know about you, but keeping lunch boxes clean is a pain. Inevitably, someone will spill something sticky in their lunchbox. It just happens. I only buy lunch boxes that are easy to clean. We love this lunch box. You simply take out the middle and place in the dishwasher. Genius!
Stainless Steel Water Bottle. My kids switched to stainless steel water bottles a few years ago. It doesn’t sweat and keeps water cold all day long. This great for older kids who go straight to practice after school! My little guy has a slim one, perfect for elementary kiddos.
Small thermos with a spoon. A small thermos with a spoon is a great investment for lunches. It is not a must have, but a good thermos can last you years! If your winters are cold like ours, sometimes you need a hot lunch. I love the spoon inside, less waste and easy to clean!
Air Fryer. I don’t like small appliances. I keep a minimal kitchen, but our Air Fryer is a must! We honestly use it a lot. I love using it for taquitos or the occasional pizza rolls. You prepare food in the morning without waiting for the oven to preheat!
Panini Press. I also love our Panini Press. You can quickly make a hot sandwich in no time with this press. It's so easy! Hot ham and cheese is one of our kids favorite sandwiches to make on the panini press. I also use this press to quickly grill chicken for dinner sometimes. It's a great appliance.
Common questions FAQ’s to packing school lunches.
What should I pack for lunch?
Lunch should be simple. If you are a family that does leftovers, they make the best lunch!
However, if leftovers aren’t your thing. Pick 4 or 5 lunches and put them on repeat for a whole month (or more). For example, you could make:
Peanut Butter and Jelly
Ham and Cheese on Panini Press
I would serve each lunch with whatever fruit is in season and a special treat.
I use divided containers so each lunch has a main course in the biggest section, something fresh (think veggie or fruit) and a treat in the smaller sections.
What should I pack in a thermos?
A thermos is great to use in colder months. It gives everyone a break from sandwiches and PB and J's. Here are some tried and true ideas for lunch in a thermos:
Chicken noodle soup
Mac and cheese,
What are best sandwich free lunch ideas? My kids are tired of sandwiches!
Sometimes everyone gets tired of sandwiches for lunch. We get it. Try using tortillas in your lunch rotation. We love quesadillas or turkey rolled up in a tortilla. Homemade or frozen burritos make for a filling lunch. Also, my kids love pizza made on Aldi naan bread! It is so good!
What the best lunch ideas for high school kids and teenagers?
Older kids tend to need more food. It can be difficult to accommodate when you are making lunches for varying ages.
I try to add whole-grain crackers or a granola bar to my older kids lunches. Remember, additional protein will keep them full longer. Peanut butter (or almond butter) packets, hard-boiled eggs, or beef jerky make excellent additions to lunch for teenagers.
I try to keep protein-packed granola bars in our pantry. My older kids will grab a few for the week and eat them before practice or after lunch when needed. Also, encourage your older kids to drink lots of water! It will keep them fuller longer. Hydration is so important for all of us, but especially for growing kids!
How do I pack a lunches fast? I don’t have a lot of time.
I try to pack all our lunches while the coffee brews each morning. On busier weeks, I may assign one child to pack lunches for everyone right after dinner. It just depends on what is going on and what sports season we are in.
Either way, we pack lunches fast and here is my method:
Divided containers. Lay them on the counter. My containers have 3 sections. I use one for the main course, one section for fresh food and the last one for a treat.
Plan ahead. I decide what 5 lunches we will eat for the month and rotate them. Need lunch ideas? I’ve got great ones here!
Prep. Before the week starts think about what items need prepping for the week. Do you need to chop veggies? Could you make any lunch ahead of time? Feel free to delegate these tasks. Don't’ do all the work! Often, while I”m making dinner I will ask a child to come in the kitchen and prep a lunch item for me. It ‘s a great time to teach basic cooking skills and hang out with my kids. Also, consider having your groceries delivered if you need to!
Pack your lunches! You can do it the night before or in the morning. Do what works for you!
Packing school lunches every day shouldn’t be a stressful. The key is to have the right tools and an easy plan. You don’t need to overcomplicate things!
Tell us, what is your favorite, easy, crowd-pleasing lunch at your house? Share it with us in the comments!
Want to save this to Pinterest to read later?