How To Pack the Best Kids Lunches in 2016
December 28 2015

Written by Gina Kirk of Is She Really?. Gina pushes her creativity to new limits and writes about it along the way. To see more fun lunches, and chat about all things motherhood and healthy living, you can find her on Instagram here. 

I have packed lunches for my boys for as long as I can remember, so when a friend suggested I give Bentgo Kids lunch boxes a try I was so excited. To be honest, I was a little nervous too, I mean, it felt like the pressure was on to pack a perfectly fitted lunch into those little spots that were provided. But alas, after a few days of trial and error, I had succeeded in my mission to provide both of my boys with balanced, fun, and creative lunches. 

Lots of moms ask me for tips and advice on packing lunch for their little ones. Which is exactly where today’s post comes in. As the New Year approaches, there is no better time to start this new routine. I don’t want you to feel intimidated or overwhelmed when packing lunch, so I’m going to share a few tips, tricks and lunch ideas to get you started. 

Here are the three rules I always stick to when packing lunch:

  1. Keep it simple. Kids don’t need extravagant lunches–or to try new foods at lunchtime. You can easily provide them with a balanced, fun lunch that’s comprised of their favorite foods.
  2. Mini foods are awesome. I’m pretty sure that every child will agree, anything mini or dippable is at least 10 times more fun than its average-sized counterpart.
  3. Every food is a lunch food. If your little one loves waffles or turkey dinner, (and would eat that three times a day if you let them) pack it for lunch! Don’t rule out any food simply because it’s not a “lunch” food.

Now, I like to try “all-the-new-things” at once just as much as the next person. But when it comes to my grocery budget, and not wanting to waste food, I have a few guidelines I try to follow here as well.

Here’s how I keep my grocery bill in check:

  • Think double duty. If I’m buying something, I want to use ALL of it. Here’s where double duty comes in. Do your kids love bagels for breakfast? Let them build their own mini pizza bagels for lunch! Are you having tacos this week? Use the leftover tortillas for spirals or wraps.
  • Leftovers can be fun. I’m not afraid to throw leftovers into a lunch box; the key here is to change it up a bit. I often roast a whole chicken on Sunday and use that meat in sandwiches and wraps throughout the week. Or, when I make a homemade sauce and meatballs, I’ll turn it into a meatball sub for lunch.
  • Pick two sides. I’m guilty of going overboard in the snack side department. So each week I let my boys pick two sides. We eat lots of fruits, so I usually pick up two or three different ones and rotate throughout the week. They also pick a snack such as chocolate covered raisins, cheddar crackers, yogurts, etc. Generally one box of lunch snacks will last one to two weeks, so it makes it easy to rotate them in and out for different combos.

Now that you have tips and tools under your belt, here are a few of my kids' favorite lunches. Keep in mind that you don’t have to always pack a cold lunch. Often times I will heat something up and toss it in their Bentgo or alongside it in a thermos, so that it’s still a bit warm by lunch. Though, my boys will happily eat their food at any temperature, which is convenient. 

These mini sandwiches are just sliced up veggies, bread and turkey slid onto toothpicks. I placed them alongside cheese that I cut up with a mini cookie cutter, fruit, cheddar crackers and a yogurt.

Bagel pizzas! The toppings are endless here and you can feel much better about knowing what your little one is getting when you pack your own.  

We roast a chicken every Sunday, and drumsticks are a favorite lunch here! This one was packed with cut up fruit and veggies, cinnamon graham crackers and trail mix. 

You can change up a boring wrap by slicing it thinner and making spirals. Turkey lettuce and tomato made the cut in this lunch. Alongside cucumbers and tomatoes, pineapple, fruit snacks and a cheddar cracker mix. 

Skipping the bread and packing simple rollups is an easy (and dunkable) fun twist. Bacon’s a big favorite in our house, so when I do make it, the boys request it for lunch. These are also packed with a pickle, yogurt, chocolate-covered raisins and cheddar crackers. 

There you have it! Five easy lunches that are fun, balanced and delicious. I’d love for you to leave a comment below to share what you’re looking forward to packing for your little ones!