As National Pack Your Lunch Day, March 10 is an official food holiday for those jazzed about trying new healthy school lunch ideas, but we know parents everywhere are probably rolling their eyes. Isn’t that every day for those with preschool and elementary school students at home? We know the process can be tedious, but with a stash of reusable containers, a little weekend prep, and a handy checklist of what to include in your kids’ midday meal, you’ll be a lunch-packing pro in no time.
Not all schools have refrigeration options, so keep that in mind when you’re packing healthy school lunches in the morning. For example, if you’re thinking of sending a cup of last night’s soup, be sure you have the right thermos handy. Also, many younger kids aren’t ready for a full-size sandwich, and appreciate the variety that comes with filling up the smaller compartments within a larger bento box. Check out some of the reusable lunch gear our members swear by.
Soup lovers, this one’s for you. This insulated and vacuum-sealed jar helps keep up to 17 ounces of stew or broth warm for six hours.
“We purchased three of these! They work great for our kids’ lunches and are easy to open and easy to clean.”
—Heather, North Carolina
Make your kitchen more sustainable by using natural wraps as an alternative to plastic. Made with organic cotton and coated with jojoba oil and beeswax, these washable and reusable pieces easily wrap around sandwiches, snacks, fruit, and more.
“I haven’t looked back. I’ve bought these and love them. They’re great for all types of food and snacks, and a super easy transition away from plastic!”
A navy and green bento box is one of the best kids’ lunch boxes for school. Four different compartments allow you to mix and match ingredients for a one-of-a-kind meal that’s never boring.
“This is easy for my 9-year-old to open!”
Our handy tote comes in a neutral color will keep your meal protected until lunchtime. Made from recycled plastic, the insulated lining helps keep sandwiches and wraps cool for hours, and a collapsible design means storage is a breeze.
“I love it for bringing my food to work!”
Dishwasher safe and BPA-free, this collection of stainless steel nesting containers can easily store snacks, salads, and more.
“I don’t like using plastic containers for my son’s lunches, so these are great for putting leftovers or snacks in.”
Streamlining lunch prep is all about planning ahead. Here are four of our best tips for making the process feel less stressful—especially when you’re trying to get everyone out the door.
Leftovers are an easy way to go when you have them, but you can also build a healthy school lunch around sandwiches, dips, and of course, protein that’ll keep kids full until dinner. Don’t forget a snack or two!
Sandwiches are one of the most popular lunch items around! Snag these combos for inspiration.
Making sure your little one has enough fuel to sail through nap time, play time, and story hour before pickup is a top priority. Fill those tummies with protein-rich ingredients they’ll devour.
Dippers like carrot and celery sticks are easy for kid-sized fingers and go well with dips like hummus or herbed yogurt. Some lunch boxes come with a circular insert just for the occasion, or you can purchase separate round containers to include.
We’ve stocked ThriveMarket.com with everything you need to pack a healthy school lunch. Brands like Blue Diamond, My Super Foods, and Annie’s are always at the top of our members’ grocery lists. Here are some of our best member-approved snacks!
For a chip alternative, nothing beats Peatos, a crunchy snack brand that delivers 4g of protein per serving and is made with lentil and pea flour plus masala seasoning and onion powder.
We never said chips are all bad—especially when they’re made with wholesome beans. Each serving offers 5g of protein, and is Certified Gluten-Free, too.
Certified Gluten-Free and vegan, kids will love these mini popcorn bites packed with superfoods like quinoa, chia, and flax.
Sourced from pasture-raised, grass-fed beef, every batch is marinated in apple cider vinegar, honey, and spices before being smoked low and slow. It’s a winner for school lunch ideas for teens.
Made with almond flour (and perfectly addicting), this box of crackers is ideal for rounding out lunch. Each bite is also paleo, vegan, vegetarian, and Certified Gluten-Free.
For little fingers, nothing beats the ease of grabbing sweet raisins—but they’re great for the whole family, too. This snack is made from organic white grapes and no artificial chemicals.
Every cracker gets its vibrant pink hue from organic beets. This crunchy snack is gluten-free and made from wholesome ingredients such as chia seeds and stone-ground white corn. They’re satisfying solo, but pair well with cheese or hummus (see above!)
If there’s a kid that doesn’t devour Annie’s cheddar bunnies, we haven’t met them. Every nibble is baked with real organic cheese and organic wheat flour—no preservatives or artificial colors involved.
These soft, sweet snack bars are great for giving your kids a mid-afternoon boost. They’ll love the chocolate chips, and you’ll love that they’re not made with any preservatives, dyes, or artificial flavors.
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