What Do You Pack in a School Lunch? {I LOVE all the ideas!}

Thermos Dual-Compartment Hello Kitty Lunch Kit

When I was a kid, cold lunch consisted of:

  • Sandwich:  PB & J, tuna, ham and cheese, and even sometimes a meatloaf sandwich!
  • Fruit: apple, banana, or an orange
  • Treat:  home made almost always, and sometimes we’d get lucky and get a hostess treat after my mom went to the bread store!
  • Drink:  NONE… if we were thirsty, we’d walk to the drinking fountain!


BUILT NY Munchler Lunch Bag

I need some help!

Not gonna lie, for the past several years we’ve either qualified for free or reduced price school lunches.   For the first time, we don’t qualify.  This is a BLESSING!  But now I’ve got to get my thinking cap on!  School lunch can get expensive… even if you’re brown bagging it!

MY LATEST VIDEOS
  • String Cheese – if I put it in the freezer and then threw it in their lunch bag in the am, would that work?  Or does it make it gross?  {Here is a $.40/1 Frigo String Cheese Coupon}
  • Applesacue, Mandarin Oranges, Veggies and Ranch Salad Dressing – I was thinking it’d be a lot cheaper to just buy some Ziploc containers for the aforementioned items, rather than buying the individually packed stuff.  But I’m not sure my kids will be good about returning the containers.  {Here’s a coupon for $1.50/2 Ziploc containers}.  I’ll also just buy whatever fresh fruit is on sale that week.
  • Sandwiches – (I always spell that word wrong)… my kids just want PB & J and Ham & Cheese (have you printed your coupon for $1/2 pounds of cheese – ID and UT only)?  Target has a free bread deal going this week.  I like to freeze loaves of bread when I see a good sale.   I’m excited to see Tuna on sale at Fred Meyer again!
  • Chips – not much of a chip eater, but if I was, I would buy the big bag and pack a serving in a small ziploc bag.  {Here’s a Ziploc bag coupon}
  • Drinks – am I a bad mom to tell my kids to go use a drinking fountain?  I see that Target has a Capri Sun deal this week, and there is also a coupon for $1.00 OFF any one (1) Minute Maid Juice Box 10-pk, any variety  (Update:  OK – you’ve told me I would be a bad mom if I made my kids drink at the fountain… I’ll be scouring Amazon for some good drink containers)
  • Treats?  – I think my children would go on strike if they didn’t get a small treat.   If i DO buy something, I’m going to make sure it’s off limits for anything but sack lunches!  {Do you think these are any good?  $1.00 OFF any ONE BOX of any flavor WhoNu? Nutrition Rich Cookies}

*Update* Your comments have inspired me!  Look at these fun little cutters!

Have you ever used a sandwich cutter for your kids sandwich? Are you looking to make your child’s packed lunch a little more exciting? These Lunch Punch food cutters are great for sandwiches, toast, cookies and more! The Lunch Punch is a food cutter specifically designed to capture the most amount of bread when it cuts the crust off your sandwich.  🙂

 Lunch Punch Whimsical Shape Sandwich Cutters (Set of 4)

 Lunch Punch Transport Shape Sandwich Cutters (Set of 4)

 Lunch Punch Animal Shape Sandwich Cutters (Set of 4)

 Lunch Punch Puzzle Shape Sandwich Cutters (Set of 4)

What do you put in your child’s lunch?  What tips do you have to share?

Comments & Reviews

  • Tonya

    I think you should buy a resusable container and put a drink in it from your home so they dont have to get up during lunch and get a drink out of the fountain, And by the way have you seen some of the fountains in the schools they are rather gross looking.

    • Tracy

      I agree. I pack juice with ice in a small thermos. The ice melts and waters down the juice so less sugar. P.S. don’t tell my kids, but we always water down the juice at home so they are consuming less sugar.

      • Becky

        Agree…we water down juice too. I make the frozen juice and use 4 cans of water instead of 3. With school lunches, I freeze capri suns and they double as an ice pack and it usually melts in time for lunch-if not, then they have a “slushy’! 🙂

        • Jackie

          I used to pack my kids chocolate or white milk in their own bottle. I also got a soup thermos and packed spagettios, leftovers, or soup so they had a hot meal every once in a while. They warmed it up really hot in the morning and it would be just right by lunch time. My kids loved it. Good luck.

  • Christine

    For veggies w/ranch, chips & salsa, apples & caramel, or homemade pudding or jello, go to the restaurant supply store and get some 4 oz solo cups and lids. It’s been a few years since I’ve bought any, but I remember calculating that the cup & lid worked out to be 5¢ for the pair. Then you don’t have to buy the individual portions from the store and you don’t need to worry about them bringing them home, as they’re disposable. They’re the little cups you see at Baja Fresh or places like that to put salsa in.

    • Cathy

      Brilliant idea!

    • Lisa Peterson

      I discovered these at Cash & Carry stores~ what a great way to go! I have 3 boys and a big boy (the hubby) who have a hard time remembering to take out the containers out for washing and I got tired of the science projects! Gross! They even have some that are washable (they last like 4 to 5 uses). I know it’s not the most ‘green’ way to go, but we really try in other ways! Plus, its’ cheaper to put cream cheese, pb or salad dressing in small containers than buying the individual packaging. We also freeze go-gurts and juice packets to keep the food cold. One of the teachers called me one day to tell me how the other kids are jealous of my kids’ lunches! Too funny!
      Thanks for all of the Fabulous ideas!

      • Sophie

        We bought these a while back for ranch, ketchup, caramel, etc.. I thought it was a great idea! Sadly my hubby does not, he just uses regular containers, but at least he brings them home!!

  • melody

    I make my own crustless sandwiches. I use a special cut-n-seal tool, but a large biscuit cutter or soup can will work. Make the pbj or ham and cheese( filling near the center). Cut, ziplock and freeze. Works best with fresh, cheap white bread (the softer and thinner, the better!) This way you can make a loaf’s work all at once. Pull one out in the AM and by lunch, it is thawed and fresh. Saves time and money!

  • Rana

    They really need to have a drink with them for lunchtime. Most classrooms don’t have water fountains in them so they may go most of the day without much to drink. Considering kids are in school up to 7 hours a day a good drink with lunch is important. I buy Capri Suns and they ONLY get to use them for school lunches (not at home). The cost is .20 each which is still much cheaper than school lunch (which is $2.15 in Tri-Cities).

  • Gwen

    I highly recommend a good reusable container for a drink. My daughter has taken her CamelBak every day for three years in her lunch and it is still in great condition….. I know they are a little pricey up front, but in my opinion, well worth the investment. We just do ice water. I agree on the gross factor of school water fountains!

    One new thing we got this year was these containers http://www.fit-fresh.com/. They have ice packs in the lids, so they don’t take up space in their lunch boxes, but ensure that things stay cold enough. I was able to pick them up at Fred Meyer on sale. I think I paid around $4 for the sandwich containers. In three years of packing lunches, we have always gotten containers back. I know the teachers at our school are helpful in making sure everything goes back in the lunch boxes.

    • Sara D

      I picked up a few of these fit fresh containers at Shopko for about $2.50 last week. I am excited about them to hold fruit!

  • Jalayna

    I would send a bottle of water with your kids at least. Research has found most kids in school are dehydrated and that effects their learning.

    Those Who NU cookies are very yummy. Even just one in there lunch could make there day.

  • KD

    Check your elementary school’s lunchroom policy. My son’s had a basket with each teacher’s name on it. The lunchboxes for each class got stuck in the appropriate basket. That way you can send reusable water bottles, Ziploc containers, etc. to school, and your kid can just shove them back into the lunchbox when done, and throw it into the basket. I also sent milk money. At $.35 it’s not coupon cheap, but at least it was a lot healthier than a free Capri Sun.

    For junior high/high school students don’t their backpacks/bags whatever they have come with a place for a water bottle? I always had ones that did, and I took my water bottle with me everywhere.

    Don’t forget to freeze Go-gurts! They’re unthawed by lunch and perfect.

  • Tanya

    The Who-Nu’s are delish! We LOVE the soft and chewy kind… SO good! My kids love them. Reading through – your plan is my plan, so I’m going with “great minds think alike!”

  • Michelle

    My daughter is a vegetarian, so we have gotten really creative in her lunches, because I’m afraid with sandwiches every day she doesn’t get the nutrition she needs, especially when we are in sports, and dinner is at times a free-for-all. With the increasing number of peanut allergies, we go for almond butter rather than peanut butter most times, but some easy and thrifty meals we have done in the past include a corn and bean salad, or samosas which in her case typically means peas and potatoes in pie crust (for when you can get good deals on ready-made pie crusts). She always uses the re-usable ziploc containers, and is good about bringing them home.

    When it cools off, I invested in a good thermos, and she takes a wide variety of soups and beans and rice. I also have a number of ice packs as those don’t get taken out of the lunch bag when she gets home, then she has no cold packs. We do the sports bottle with water, and on occasion, I’ll send along a Crystal Lite packet for her to add–especially when it is warm so she will drink more water. Hope you get some good suggestions!

    • KT

      Thank you for making the effort for the children that do have peanut allergies! It means sooo much to the parents/families that have children with peanut allergy!

  • becca

    the wo-nu cookies are very good we love them in my house. Also, a good tip is to buy a reusable drink container, and send it with water and ice cubes so its still chilled at lunch, and if your kids have an issue with just plain water you can send one of the crystal light or kool aid single packs with them and let them make there own drink. you can get them for super cheap when theres a good sale 🙂 or the dollar stores sell them sometimes as well usually 10 in a case so $0.10 per drink is still better than buying juice boxes for the most part….and if your afraid they will throw the containers away, buy ones that have a favorite character on them, so they wont want to throw them away 😀

  • Squared231`

    My kids love sandwich sushi. Use a tortilla spread with cream cheese and layer in ham (or turkey or whatever), cheese, and lettuce. Then roll up and slice. My kids are very good about bringing home the reusable containers.

    We also put a reusable bottle for water and sometimes as a surprise I put kool aid singles or crystal light singles in their lunch that they can mix into the water during lunch. Last year I bought some cute little 8 oz stainless steel water bottles with swagbucks. They have worked wonderfully for lunches. Not sure if they still have them or not tho.

    Also grilled cheese sliced into about 4 strips and put into a thermos holds up well until lunch time and stays warm.

  • amanda

    I bought the small Rubbermaid drink containers at walmart and use the $1.00 off coupon, which made them $.66 each. They fit perfectly in my kids lunchbox and it is reusable so very cheap. I also like to freeze a little bit of water at the bottom of the container to keep it cold until lunch. Thermoses are also a lifesaver. I have made mac and cheese and sent it in them an they are kept warm til lunch.

  • jessica lopez

    I think just water is good inside a reuseable cup. But kool aid is full of sugar and sugary drinks are wats making children have diabetes and be overweight. As for crystal light why would you wanna give your child this. These drinks contain ingredients associated with known health risks. Two of Crystal Light’s ingredients — aspartame and acesulfame potassium — have been linked with a risk of cancer, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Aspartame might also lead to neurological concerns. CSPI recommends caution with colorings Red 40 and Blue 1 found in Crystal Light, as they can cause allergies. The Center warns to avoid colorings Yellow 5, which has a risk of cancer, and Yellow 6, which has a risk of tumors. More research is needed for conclusive evidence on these ingredients.

    Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/309079-the-pros-cons-of-crystal-light-drink/#ixzz1VnY0DIfk

    • Michelle

      Jessica–if you use crystal lite pure, they use stevia to sweeten the drink, not sucralose or other artificial sweeteners. Please notice also that they are used as an occasional treat, not an everyday drink.

    • Pia

      I honestly would rather give my kid a juice box than a crystal light packet to add to their water. Kids don’t need to be drinking diet drinks, asparatame is terrible for everyone especially children and while I’m know the advertising says that splenda is safe, it has not been around long enough for anyone to know what it really does to the body. In the 1970’s everyone said nutrasweet was safe too.

  • Suzanne

    We’re not a fan of the string cheese after it’s been frozen. But, it does last a while in the fridge and it’s a great source of protein. I’ve even cut it lengthwise in fours and rolled it inside ham or roast beef slices. I totally agree about the reusable container for water. Our school has fountains in each classroom, but they’re not allowed to use them freely. But, if they have a bottle on their desk, they can stay hydrated. I give my son an incentive to return all his containers…he gets a sweet in his lunch the following day. If he forgets, no sweet. The sweet is a treat and it’s a privilege, not a gimme. And, since we’re gluten-free, sugar-free, we do a lot of soups and salads with cubed chicken or sliced ham. Lettuce wraps (much like tortilla wraps) work great too.

  • Melanie

    My kids prefer wraps to sandwiches. Some meat and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla. I also buy single serving fruits, applesauces, yogurt, etc…..when it’s on sale. Since the sales vary so does their menu. This year we purchased reusable lunch sacks that go in the freezer. Hopefully the string cheese and other perishables will still be cold by lunch time! Oh, and they always get a treat. This week I bought Handy-Snax packs on sale for $.99 a 6 pack and if you bought 10 you got 2 free.

  • Angelee

    I’m on the fence about the water fountain thing. The water in Portland is some of the best the county has to offer, and our family is adamantly pro-tap and anti-bottled (store bought). But of course, I want my kid to drink more than just a few sips, which is what he would get at the fountain, and to be honest he is a total chugger when it comes to drinks. So I plan to send his Sigg to school with him and just hope it comes home. You can often find Sigg bottles at Goodwill for a dollar, and if you manage to find the kind with the copper innards (they were recalled for having BPAs) you can return them to most retailers for a brand new one! We’ve done this several times, it’s great. So I guess I recommend a metal bottle full of tap water, filtered if necessary. You can toss a little bit of lemon, cucumber or even mint leaf in to improve flavor!

  • Julie

    Another thing you can freeze and then pack in the lunchbox and it’s thawed by lunchtime are grapes. I don’t even take them off the stem. When Fred Meyer had them nice and cheap last week or the week before (?) I bought a bunch and froze them (I just wash them first and make sure they’re nice and dry before you freeze them) so they’re ready for lunches.

    I also have this ancient Farm Journal cookbook, and it has a bunch of recipes in it for frozen “salads.” They’re fruit salads and Jello salads, sometimes bound with cottage cheese or sour cream or something like that. I just made a grape jello and sour cream salad that has cut-up grapes and bananas in it and froze it in muffin liners so it’s in individual portions. Then you just pop one into the lunchbox and it’s ready to eat at lunchtime. It works surprisingly well. I like a salad made from cottage cheese and blueberries and canned pineapple that I freeze in muffin liners, too.

    • Kristina

      GENIUS! why didn’t I think of that?!? I’m OBSESSED with muffin tins! I try to bake EVERYTHING in muffin tins (meatloaf, lasagna, spaghetti pie)
      sounds interesting, what is this book? I will look for it

    • Jen

      That is an awesome idea freezing muffin portions of fruit and cream salads! I’d prefer to make a lower sugar one of those than a pure sugar sweet treat. We don’t eat those at home and I hate to think of my kid’s brain functioning all afternoon with a sugar coma.

      • Julie

        Yes, you can make homemade jellos, of course, and sometimes I do with fruit juice and plain gelatin, and they’re healthier. And then with the fruit and/or cottage cheese, it adds some nutritional value. If your kids like celery or shredded carrots in their jello salads, those are fine, too, but my kids are weirded out by veggies in jello.

        The cookbook is the Farm Journal Canning & Freezing cookbook from 1963. I also have a slightly later edition that I recently picked up a yard sale with basically the same recipes. I do almost all of my food preservation (canning and freezing) from those recipes, and the recipes are consistently excellent. I don’t know if the new editions (after about 1970) would still have those frozen salads, but you can still find old copies around sometimes.

  • yo fav sis :)

    Cat-string cheese doesn’t freeze great. gogurts sure do. If you put an ice pack in their lunch, make sure the sandwich isn’t frozen, or it will still be by lunch. For sure, send them with a drink…i don’t even do juice. I do water or milk or choc. milk. and invest in some little rubbermaid containers..vs. ziplock bags every day. I have a treat basket for lunchs only that they can’t get into. It’s in a great hiding place 🙂 Megan hasn’t ever thrown away a container, cuz i tell her not to go near the garbage cans…just leave your big old mess in your bag and bring home 🙂 her bag always comes home with pudding or yogurts smeared everywhere, but she has to wash it out and empty her backpack with me before she can go play. bye!

  • Kelleigh @ Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs

    Huh. I must be the lamest mom out there. My kid gets water in a sports bottle for lunch every day! 🙂

    I’m LOVING these ideas! I think I’ll make my son sandwich sushi and see what he thinks!

  • Donaca

    What about popcorn? I grew up on pop corn in my lunches (of course we were pretty poor) My mom would make it the night before, and bag it up. We loved it. You can also put popcorn in a paperbag & pop it right in the Mirco. Then it will be ready for the next day.

    We also like triscuits with cream cheese & sliced cucumbers. It makes a great little sandwhich that my kids love.

  • Ambur Quijada

    My kids love muffins (always homemade) and yogurt
    http://www.cookinglight.com/food/quick-healthy/healthy-muffin-recipes-00412000070942/page26.html
    I also like to make “lunchables” with cut up turkey, crackers and cheese squares or string cheese cut up
    Veggie trays- celery sticks, carrots, broccoli and dip sunflower seed butter or light ranch
    and I agree with the Thermos comments. I found buying the “cheap” ones are a no no. They leak and don’t stay warm very long. You can heat up left over soup. stew etc and it’s great on a cold day.

  • Melissa

    Applesauce is a must in my son’s lunch. In the past I have purchased the pre-portioned cups, but it is terribly expensive. Last year I bought some little green bowls with lids at the Dollar Store. They are very inexpensive and easy for my son to open. I would recommend something like that for applesauce or any other kind of fruit.

  • Kristin

    None of my kids are big sandwich fans, so I’ve had to be creative. I buy bag of frozen chicken fried rice for 2.99 at Trader Joes and get about six thermos full from that. I like it because it quite well rounded with starch, veggie, protein. I usually supplement with a piece of fruit and their refillable water bottles. I’ve also packed meatballs this way from frozen. For my oldest daughter I will do a salad, with cubes ham and cheese and dressing on the side so she can assemble it. My son likes chips and salsa, I try to include string cheese or yogurt and fruit and carrots on these days. Last year, I gave the kids a choice between a special treat at school lunch or at home after school they all agreed to after school treat, sometimes I will do jello in luchbox if I find a good deal.

  • Shelley

    One of my fav lunches is leftover fried chicken legs. My mom would add a piece of bread and butter, and I was in heaven. My kids like black bean and corn salsa with a baggie of white corn chips, or bagel sandwiches (usually a bit of cream cheese and cucumber slices with some thin sliced ham.) Their favorite day was the day after meatloaf night, for meatloaf sandwiches!

  • Joanna

    My 8 year old son is obsessed with his thermos, the Thermos Stainless King SK3000MB4 Food Jar, Midnight Blue . It may be expensive but it is SOOOOOO worth it. It fits almost exactly a full can of Campbell’s Chunky/Progresso soup, or even better (if you’re willing to spend the time making the soup) you can split a can of tomato soup which fills up 2 thermoses and is piping hot at lunchtime. During the winter they have 2 of these thermoses with a cold water bottle packaged together at Costco for about $40. This is THE BEST thermos- I have even packed cold food in with the thermos in the same lunch bag and the cold food stayed cold and the hot food stayed hot. During the cold weather (which is the ENTIRE school year here in the Seattle area) my kids get a thermos of tomato soup, a slice or two of bread with butter, a thermos of cold water, and either fruit snacks or a treat and lunch costs $.50-1 each tops. I also put leftover mac & cheese, fettucine alfredo, spaghetti, or basically anything else that’s hot in it and it stays hot for up to 8 hours typically. My husband and kids LOVE it and it makes lunchtime so much healthier and easier to prepare. Oh, and all of the other kids are totally jealous which makes my son uber happy 🙂

  • Jennifer

    My sons go to a very small school that doesnt even have a kitchen, so I’ve tried to get creative with lunches, but there are some awesome ideas on here! I bought some really nice small thermoses and put everything in them! Chicken nuggets, soup, leftovers from the night before like spaghetti or stew. Their lunchbags have two compartments, so I can put the thermos in one side, and cold stuff in the other.

  • Susan

    Cathy, I think it’s really important for kids to have drinks at school. Unless your kids schools have good cold drinking water available all day, which isn’t likely, definately send water with your kids to have at school. Otherwise they will probably not drink enough water for good health.

    Our school (Boise district) has drinking fountains in all the classrooms, but it’s not usually cold and doesn’t taste very good. Even the teachers say that they don’t like it, and they encourage the kids to bring a bottle of water from home. Doesn’t have to be bottled — our tap water is very good — so my daughter fills up her own bottle for school each morning. They can have water at their desks and take a drink whenever they like, whereas if they only have the fountain water available, they’re limited as to when they can drink.

    For lunch, my daughter usually eats in the cafeteria — they have a good food-service program and she likes most of the meals they serve. On the days that she’d rather take lunch from home, she usually buys milk at the cafeteria. It’s like $.30, which I dont’ think is all that bad, and worth it for the convenience. I’ve tried having her take a bottle of milk, but the containers get so icky.

    She almost always includes something from the freezer, which doubles as an ice pack — a Capri Sun, a gogurt, fruit cup, etc. They thaw out by lunch but are still nice and cold.

    We use the inexpensive Ziploc containers for lunches. If they get thrown out by accident it’s not much of a loss, but my daughter is good about putting the containers in the lunch box and bringing them back home.

    Fortunately, being “green” is in right now, so resuable containers are “fashionable” so to speak. There is lots of peer pressure, at my daughter’s school anyway, not to be wasteful.

  • MamaLaLa

    Our little ones are too small,but since I am a teacher I pack my own lunch. Here is one I love to eat;
    Yogurt and Granola- high in protein and super yummy
    Cold cubed chicken with salad- dressing on the side
    Wraps- I buy the Flat-Out Wraps and use them like I would for sandwiches
    Cheese and crackers

    Then I add some type of veggie and/or fruit.

    On duty days (lunch duty) I don’t have time to eat on my lunch, so I try extra hard to pack the healthiest lunch that day so my students will see me eating healthy food. Often they will ask me what the vegetable or fruit is that I am eating raw- 🙂

  • Keisha

    I dont know how old your kids are but I have lil ones. My daughter’s Pre-K school require the kids to bring a lunch every day. I def agree with the masses on sending the lunch in reuseable containers. Check out the Funtainers by Thermos for drinks and soups. Also, google “kid lunches” or “creative lunches for kids” and you will find an array of bloggers and articles that have EXCELLENT ideas for fun lunches for kids of all ages and palettes. Also, depending on your packing method (we are a bento-style family) try to open all packaging before you put it in the lunch ie. string cheese, peeling orange/clementimes. This will help out the teacher and will make your lil one feel like a “big girl” bc she/he isnt all tied up trying to open some complicated packaging. Lastly, please dont waste your money on individual/cute/personal size items (unless you have a coupon and its a good deal of course 😉 ) , buy the big one and just pour it into reusable containers. Save $, Save a tree 😉 Good Luck!

  • Tammy

    I made reusuable baggies out of material, ripstop nylon (parachute material) and velcro. I just wipe them out and I am good to go for the next day. I am a teacher and made mine to go with my lunch tote. SO CUTE!!!! All the other teachers wanted me to make them some….Guess what they will be getting for Christmas……I think they have a pattern on Etsy…….My mom made me scrambled eggs and bacon sandwiches for lunch….we are from the south so healthy wasn’t a big issue for me!!!!hahahaha

  • D'Anna

    My sons were fans of tuna & crackers and not those wee tiny prepackaged ones from Bumble Bee. I mixed up tuna salad and put it in these little Tupperware type containers I had absolutely no use for, Ziploc baggied some Premium Saltines and added in a little plastic knife and they would buy milk at school. Another one was cheese and crackers cut from the sale brick of cheese and some Ritz crackers or Premium Saltines, whichever were on sale.

  • CathyB

    There are lots of great ideas on here! Here are a couple more ideas that I don’t think have been mentioned yet.

    – I love to put juicy fruit like applesauce, mandarin oranges, pineapple, melon chunks, etc. in little plastic containers for lunch but found that often the plastic containers would leak or the lids pop off. So I switched last year to using little glass jam jars (1 cup and 1/2 cup sizes) with a ring and a canning lid. It seals down well and does not leak, and you can just wash and reuse all the parts including the lid making it really affordable. The glass on the jars is really quite thick and I have never had one break (altho that is your own judgement call!)

    – You can use a short and wide thermos for a baked potato at lunch. If you remember and have 45 minutes you can throw one in the oven as soon as you get up; or you can also do the shortcut and microwave one. Fill your thermos with boiling water and let it stand for a few minutes while you are packing the rest of the lunch. Then just dump the water out and put in your hot potato. This will usually keep it hot until lunch! Either throw the toppings in on top or put them in a separate container, depending on preferences. One of my good friends used to make this for her daughter for lunch almost every day. Of course, you will want to pack your cold stuff separately.

  • Meredith

    It’s all in the marketing for my boys. I bought cool ninja bento boxes from the local Asian market. I can cut up carrots, sandwiches, peperoni, fruit, etc… and as long as it fits in the box and is accompanied by frilly tooth pick, it gets eaten. A friend who also has all boys once told me “all food tastes better to boys if it is on a stick”.

  • Mary S

    thanks for all the great ideas! my son hates buying schoool lunch, so we pack a lunch every day (I’m dreading when school starts next week because I’ll have to start making school lunches again!) , and I’m on the lookout for things that will make him want to eat lunch instead of play…….
    My son loves pinwheels (he picks the fillings and I make them, we use whole wheat tortillas and he hasn’t realize they’re healthy).

    I always buy snacks in bulk and re-package them myself. He loves Pirate’s Booty (it’s a cheese-coated popcorn), but it’s expensive. I found Cheetoos Puffed Popcorn with white cheddar flavor that is almost as good – and it’s only $1.80 for a bag that lasts about 2 weeks…… We try to find (or make) healthier treats, and the WhoNu cookies have been a big hit so we will be buying more of those.

    We freeze GoGurt and put them in his bag frozen. He doesn’t like to eat String Cheese after I freeze it, so we keep that in the fridge.

    For drinks, I buy CapriSun or the like if it’s on sale and freeze it, but more often we just send a bottle of juice with him. I got a good deal on the 16 oz Poweraid 8-packs, so I bought a bunch of those and saved the bottles & lids. We’ve tested this, and the plan for this year is to freeze about 4 oz of water in the bottles, then each morning fill with juice. By lunchtime the ice melts (and waters down the juice), but is still pretty cold. I found that, as long as I wash out the bottles right away, I can reuse one 8-pack of Powerade bottles for at least a month, and he’s “cool” because his friends think he’s getting Poweraid every day!

    I’m going to try making him crustless sandwiches – I found a set of puff pastry/ravoli presses at the thrift store for $1.00, so I thought it might be cool to put the bread in those, add fillings, and press the edges together. He also likes eating appetizer type foods over actual meals, so I’m going to be experimenting over the next few weeks with some of those….

    We use reusable packaging whenever possible, but things sometimes don’t make it home so I could never trust sendng an expensive thermos with him to school. His school has the bucket system, but they don’t really monitor it that well, and things get lost or stolen often. I got some neon green 1/2 cup containers in the baby section at our Dollar Tree (4 for $1.00, with lids), and they seal pretty good for dips or fruit. We found snack bowls (the lid screws on, but has a flip-up section for him to open it easily) that we put his popcorn or chips in. We have sandwichs boxes from Tupperware (got 5 at the thrift store for $3.99, normally $9.99 each from Tupperware – and they’re guaranteed for life so if they break they’re replaced for free, no matter where you bought them!).

    One question, though, how do you package crackers so they don’t end up crushed by lunchtime?

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