Packing Children Lunches

all you need to know about packing kid's lunch boxes for school: tips, products, gadgets

Before my daughter stated going to school I knew I would be packing lunches for her to make sure she is eating healthy. Watching few programs on the TV, especially Jamie Oliver, really scared me after I saw what they are feeding children with UK schools.  I started with packing lunchboxes 3 years ago, for my step son, that now is 14. At the same time I was making “fake” packed lunches for my daughter that was jealous of his lunches… so I was preparing one for her to eat at home. This year she finally started real school and I started packing real lunches for her. Also my husband joined and whenever he has freelance job outside the house, he needs packed lunch as well, so I usually pack 3 of them in the morning.

It is not so hard or time consuming, as long as you have some things prepared the night before, you can also put away small amounts of food from the previous evening dinner and have them ready for morning. Making note for yourself on the fridge with info what to pack in the morning can be useful, your brain may not be awake yet and you will forget to put some things in the box. It is good to have special drawer in the fridge just for lunchbox items,  so you can see what you have available.

Here is list of useful items for packing lunches:

  • Lunchbox (bento box) or plain food box.

bento boxes from Japan Centre

two tier panda bento box kawaii

cute green apple lunch box

strawberry shaped bento box lunch box

sunflower bento box belt

teddy bear shaped lunch box

large Smash lunchbox with compartments

Lego lunch box

Hello Kitty bento box

Avoid lunch boxes with clear shiny lids like above, they look nice but crack very easily.

large lunch boxes from EasyLunchBoxes

  • Freezable container such as EZ-Freeze with lid filled with freezable gel.

food container with freezable lid

  • Luchbox stap to hold everything together and as decorative element. You don’t have to buy expensive one, it is very easy to make yourself, here is post about it.

  • Small boxes, silicone muffin cases or even paper ones.
  • Plastic zip bags to place lunchbox, fork, spoon, tissue etc., can be reused. Fabric drawstring bag with foil inside like wash bag can be also used. If your child have lunchbag (separate from the bag for books) there is no need for that.

  • Small forks, spoons and even better sporks.

  • Nori / seaweed wrap cutters to decorate rice balls, sandwiches and anything else you can think of.

red white dots lunch bag

lunch bag with separate bottle compartment

  • Lunchbox bag, insulated or not, plain small tote bag, drawstring bag or backpack is good too. I often pack lunchbox in a drawstring bag with ice pack on the bottom (in plastic zip bag) which my daughter carry in her mini backpack. Recently our favourite type of lunchbag is the one with separate compartment for bottle so my daughter does not forget to bring the bottle from school so often…

  • Food chillers and ice packs to keep food cold. If you have EZ-Freeze freezable containers (like the one pictured above between lunchboxes) there is no need for that.

  • Anti-bacterial gel to use before meal, and after napkins, tissues or/and wipes. Individually wrapped wipes would be perfect, but if you can’t find them you can wrap one in cling film or aluminum foil (I like also add cute stickers for my daughter).

  • Drink bottle for water or fruit tea, tumbler with closing or small juices. We tasted many bottles and unfortunately most of them is leaking after few uses, the only good ones I found so far are Quechua from Decathlon, Sigg and Sistema bottles.

leak proof Sistema water bottle

  • Mini cookie cutter to cut out shapes from fruits, vegetables and bread. Mellon baller, lemon zester etc. to make shapes out of fruits and veggies.

  • Special sandwich cutters, cookie cutters can be used also but bigger parts of the bread will be wasted.

  • Lunchbox dividers such as pictured plastic grass, but that is really optional, you can use lettuce or other leaves as a divider.
  • Containers for sauce.

And here is list of food items that are great for lunchboxes:

  • Mini bread rolls, pitas, tortilla wraps, naan, bread sticks, crackers, biscuits.
  • Small fruits and vegetables: cherry or plum tomatoes, mini kiwi fruits, grapes, orange segments, tangerines, all kinds of berries, melon balls, lychee fruits or pieces of bigger fruits such as apples, pears or bananas. If fruits are cut, dip them in water with lemon to prevent from getting dark.
  • Peanut butter + guava or orange jelly sandwiches.
  • Miniature cheeses (for instance Babybel).
  • Cream Cheese and Jam Sandwich Swirls.
  • Simple lettuce + ham or cheese + apple sandwiches.
  • Dry fruits such as raisins, prunes, cranberries etc, sometimes you can get them in miniature boxes, if not use small container or muffin case to separate them from the rest.
  • Hard boiled eggs, you can shape them, post about it here or make marble eggs.
  • Miniature yogurts, fromage frais or custards.
  • Mini sweets as treats not regular item in the lunchbox.
  • Leftover pasta salad from previous day.
  • Leftover homemade pizzas and tarts.
  • Cereal fruit bars.
  • Steamed vegetables, for instance green beans with some soy sauce on a side.
  • Homemade fruit jelly in small containers.
  • Homemade muffins for instance Summer fruit muffins or Cheddar and walnut muffins.
  • and many, many more…

Some schools don’t allow nuts, chocolate covered biscuits and generally sweets or even drinks other than water so check with your child’s school before packing the lunches.

Places where you can buy some lunchbox accessories:

Some of the accessories can be found in my Amazon aStore, if not try other options:

  • eBay (most of the cute picks, moulds, some cookie cutters, containers)
  • Amazon (Sigg bottle, sporks, Hungry Jungle lunchbag, they have also food chillers)
  • Japan Centre (bento boxes, lunchbox straps, egg moulds, food picks, sauce bottles)
  • Decathlon (Quechua drink bottle)
  • Ikea (colourful napkins, food chillers, plastic spoons)
  • Tesco (food chillers, food boxes, miniature food items)
  • Morrison’s (small flowery boxes, paper muffin cases, melon baller, miniature food items)
  • Marks & Spencer (anti-bacterial gel)
  • Superdrug (miniature anti-bacterial gel, wipes, fabric wash bag)
  • Boots (anti-bacterial gel, mini tissues, wipes)
  • EasyLunchboxes (Easy LunchBoxes and Easy LunchBags)
  • Becky and Lolo (UK seller of Easy LunchBoxes and many more useful items for kids)
  • local Pound store (silicone muffin cases, cute tissues)
  • local haberdashery (elastics for lunchbox straps)
  • handmade items (lunchbox strap)

You can take a look at all lunchboxes I made under Lunchbox/Bento category.

You can also take a look at Wholesome Lunchbox even that I’m running each 15th of the month.

Your thoughts…

  1. Thanks for the lovely comment on my blog!! Love all these ideas!!

  2. Bentos are just sooooo cool! They’re the only that I dislike about my daughter coming home for lunch.. *lol* I don’t get to make any bentos ;)

    How fun to read about another euro-caribbean couple.. I’m in the Netherlands and my husband is from Curaçao. (right above venezuela)

    I really like your blog!
    greetings from holland!

  3. Wow! I have never seen anything so cute in the states, especially the food picks. ADORABLE!!

  4. Wow, lots of gadgets and tips for lunch boxes. Thks for sharing!

  5. wow! I wish I was your kid. :)

  6. I adore lunch boxes like bentos :)

  7. Great post! While we have no kids yet, I already know I will be packing our kids’ lunches when the time comes!

  8. wow these cute lunch boxes are soo pretty :)

  9. OMG these are so adorable – we don’t get this kind of thing in Germany… I really love thos bento boxes in all shapes and sizes plus the accessoires… sigh.. This is a cleaver idea of a blog post!

  10. Mine are too old now, but these are fabulous ideas!

  11. Great back to school post!

  12. Fabulous ideas!!!!

  13. Where did you purchase the Bento Boxes pictured above?

  14. Thank you for all nice comments! :)

    @Lisa – I bought them in Japan Centre in London
    I have seen also similar ones on eBay and Amazon.

  15. I am so0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0 glad, I found your co-blogger was telling me something earlier about the entry that she sent for the lunch box event..with all such gr8 ideas..but never got a chance to check things out…Thanks for visiting our blog,one more gladddddd…I wish I was a kid to enjoy all these stuff..beautifully presented..Who can resist????I am sure with little efforts, I can change my kids view for eating healthy food in a nicer way..Thanks, Muskaan.

  16. Great article! We really learned something from your article. May we say that we have been a big fan of using eco bags. These green bags are really awesome. So, easy to carry and they are quite strong to hold around 20lbs. We do advise everyone to buy a few of these reusable bags and give them to your love ones. They will really appreciate.

  17. hi
    I don’t have words to thank you for the wonderful job done by you in this post…
    You have put in so much efforts to put this together for all of us its heartwarming…
    I am starting a new period in my life where i will be packing 2 heavy lunch boxes for my son who is now in college.
    I am excited about it and will join in your events
    Thanks for hosting this event It inspires me….

  18. Love the animal fork, kids would enjoy their meal even more.

  19. Thank you for the good ideas you share with us for our childrens lunchboxes. I think the ones I make may often seem a bit boring :). I can, however, recommend one thing: Dried strawberries “Just Strawberries”( My son loves them, and the list of ingredients says “Just strawberries. Absolutely nothing added”, so I guess it must be healthy too!

  20. Margot,
    You are an inspiration! I have 3 children, my youngest daughter is almost 5. I have been making packed lunches for almost 8 years and I find it such a chore, I do a lot of baking and have a bread machine so I make sure they get something healthy but its a bit too safe and boring.

    Your children are so lucky, I bet their friends are a little envious too!

  21. Wow, these are great ideas for the kids lunch packs. Yes, definitely right, we must be sure that our children are fed the right food, with so many school canteens serving junk food, it’s about time take action. Thanks for these ideas.

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