Wouldn't packing home lunch be so much easier if someone just told you what to buy from Amazon? We'll here it is- some of my personal favorite products to make life easier for moms! I tried to pick options at various price points and also be mindful of using too much plastic, as it may not be the healthiest option and also ruins more easily that other materials.
1. Lunchbox, 1 per child
I let my kids choose the lunchbox of their choice every school year. They get excited to choose and almost any lunch box will do. This year my first grader went hard on this aqua unicorn pattern from Pottery Barn Kids- we have the knapsack, lunchbox, water bottle and thermos all with the same pattern!
In addition to their choice in lunchbox, I keep a PackIt lunchbox handy for when I am packing something that needs to stay cold. You simply freeze the whole bag overnight and the ice packs inside keep the food cold for hours the next day, without any extra ice packs.
2. Bento Boxes, 1 per child
I love to use stainless steel bento boxes with little silicone cupcake liners as inserts. There are a plethora of stainless steel bentos to choose from! Here are three at different price points, all of which I use at home. There are a variety of configurations to choose from, so think about how you would like to lay out school lunch!
These bentos have lasted WAY more than one year, so having these around has repeatedly made my back to school transition easier knowing my lunch containers are ready to use!
Most Expensive: Planetbox (Over $50, depending on model)
Mid- range: Lunchbots (About $30-40, depending on size) I like this 3 divider sectional best.
Least Expensive: UKonserve ($19.50). While the divider on this bento isn't super sturdy, its great that you can slide the divider to where you need it, making two equal sized portions or one large and one smaller portion.
3. Water bottles, 1 per child + 1 extra
Because lunch at our school is so short and my kids want to spend time talking and laughing with friends, theres zero time to go to the water fountain or buy a bottle of water from the snack bar. I like stainless steel water bottles that stay cold for hours. There are many sizes, so consider how much your child is drinking each day and their age. For both my 6 and 8 year old, I have both 17 ounce and 25 ounce water bottles, but the 17 ounce is usually more practical. I've tested out many many types of water bottles and came to a few observations- the straw water bottles don't hold up as well as the regulars and often the straw is difficult to clean. I don't like to put anything but unflavored water because the taste may remain in the stain less steel long after its been washed. Also, these bottles are long lasting but are not indestructible- my current bottles have suffered dings and scratches and started to look kinda old. Consider replacing these every 2 years.
Simple Modern Wave Water Bottle (About $15) Kids love that these come in 40 different patterns!
4. Thermos, 1 per child
Thermos containers are so versatile and are the perfect solution for carrying anything your child prefers hot or cold. Simply put hot water for 5 minutes into the container before filling it with your childs lunch and it will stay hot for hours! Some of my favorite ideas to fill the thermos are soups, smoothies, warm rice dishes and cold yogurt or cottage cheese.
Thermos FUNtainer 10 oz Food Jar
5. Snack Bags and Containers, several varieties in different sizes
Having the right size snack container on hand can save valuable time in the morning. I use very few disposable ziploc baggies in my house because of the overwhelming amount of waste these bags create. Instead I've purchased the following:
Stasher Reusable Silicone Bags (about $25 for 2 piece set) Both sizes are workhorses in my house. I often fill them with crudite, leftover fruit, sandwiches and portioned out snacks.
Sistema Klip It Rectangular Split Food Storage Container (About $10 for 3) These are among the few plastic items that I still use to pack snacks. They are easy for kids to click and open, they are clear to easily see whats inside and gives me the option to put 2 snacks in one container. This is perfect for younger kids (Older kids may need larger sized snack containers, depending on whats being packed).
Rubbermaid Lunchblox Kids Container (About $7 for the set)
If you know your child has the tendency to lose or forget their lunch and snack containers, you may want to ease into the whole packing home lunch routine without investing big money. This entry level packing system has great sizes and has held up over the years. I own and use these though I try to use another material container before reaching for these plastic ones, especially because I know I'm putting them through the dishwasher which exposes them to harmful heat.
6. Lunchbox Accessories to Take Your Kid's Lunch to the Next Level
Last year I was about to give away an old set of silverware that was missing a bunch of spoons. I got the idea that I would send it in with school lunch instead of all the disposable plastics I was using. Surprisingly, most of the set remains this year! These utensils are stored separately from my regular utensils in a specific back to school drawer. If you have an old set of silverware or feel like purchasing an inexpensive set for your kids, you may be pleasantly surprised at how they feel so cool bringing real silverware to school! If you don't have utensils, a quick search on Amazon yielded a bunch of 20 piece sets for under $20! That's less than the cost of 3 school lunches at my school!
Silicone Baking Cups (About $9 for 24)
These are very helpful when it comes to dividing food in a bento box. If you child doesn't like strawberries touching grapes for example, place each fruit in a baking cup- plus, it makes the lunch look even prettier! Also, if you only have plastic containers, you can use the cups to line the containers!
Here is an example of the baking cups in use, via Kitchenupp
Sandwich Cutters and Animal Shaped Food Picks (About $20 for a large set) Wanna win the mom of the year award? Check out this set to create the coolest lunch box ever! Perfect for younger kids that will get a kick out of a dino shaped sandwich!
I hope this post helps you get organized for a fuss free, no hassle back to school season! Please reach out to me with any comments or questions on Instagram @buddhabowlsandburpees.