August 2019

How to pack the perfect school lunch

Megan Gordon is the Marketing Director at Simply Recipes. In her free time, she’s a writer, cookbook author, and food blogger at A Sweet Spoonful, and mom to Oliver (3½) and baby Frances (6 mo). She lives in Seattle with her husband Sam, and loves getting outdoors, doing yoga, dreaming about exotic travel, and eating ice cream.

If you talk to parents of young kids about packing lunch, they’ll probably tell you the same thing: it can be monotonous. I wondered why it was such a thing until I had my own school-age son and realized it’s the repetitiveness of it all – and you know what? Kids feel that, too. They get bored just like we do. After all, there are only so many ways to spin a sandwich. 

While I’ve only been packing lunch now for a year, I’ve learned a few tips to keep my sanity and help my son remain psyched about his lunch each day: mixing things up using fun snack containers, sandwich bags, and colorful lunch boxes as well as quick twists on the food I’m actually packing.

A Perfect Lunchbox

There’s no lack of lunchbox inspiration on the market these days, but I love these lunch packs because they’re the right size (not too huge!), have handy little clips so kids can attach them to their backpacks, are insulated, and can even hold an ice pack in the mesh pocket at the top. My son loves them for the creative designs (he opted for the space one – no surprise to us). 

Make Hydration a Breeze

Kids forget to drink water, especially when they’re at school and no one’s actively reminding them. So this year, I’m packing these collapsible water bottles. They’re leak proof and have easy twist tops, making them great not just for school lunch, but for travel and weekend adventures, too. 

Pack Sandwiches in Easy to Open Bags

We’re trying to avoid plastic bags when we can, and I’m loving these cloth reusable bags to pack sandwiches and snacks inside the lunch packs. They’re also great to pack a quick snack in for afterschool sports and weekend activities. 

Make it Fun (Within Reason)

I’m far from a Pinterest mom, but there are small things you can do each week that don’t take much time to help mix things up for your kids. Simply slice fruits or veggies in a different direction or shape, make “spiral sandwiches” (see instructions below) instead of a traditional sandwich, draw a smiley face on a hard-boiled egg…you get the picture. It’s certainly not our job to entertain kids during the lunch hour, but if I can do a little something every now and then that will make my son smile, I’m game. 

Kids Love Compartments

Having little compartments inside a lunchbox is a way to corral fruits, veggies, and snacks and keep them from touching (parents of small kids, you feel me here?). I have friends who use little muffin wrappers, but those tend to get wet and break apart. So I’ve started relying on these stainless steel nesting containers. They’re easy for little hands to open all on their own. 

How to Make Spiral Sandwiches:

  1. Take your favorite sandwich bread and slice off the crusts.
  2. Roll the bread thinly with a rolling pin (the thinner, the easier it will be to roll up).
  3. Layer on your toppings (not too thick!).
  4. Roll and slice! A few of my son’s favorite fillings: cream cheese and chopped olives, turkey and avocado, ham and thinly sliced pickles, hummus and roasted red pepper, peanut butter and banana.

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