Sensational Back-to-School Lunch Ideas

School lunch box ideas
Hero Images/Getty Images
In This Article
Table of Contents

Back-to-school time is second only to New Year's for folks making new commitments to healthier habits. Dive into this fall awakening of healthy eating inspiration for you and your kids by making lunches and snacks like a boss! Explore school lunch ideas that are anything but boring, plus get yourself one week of lunches that any kid would cheer for and any parent would be excited to make.

Boxes and Carrying Cases

To pack a good lunch you need the proper equipment, and it doesn’t hurt to have lunch box options that are insulated, eco-friendly, and fun for the kiddos.

Bento-style boxes offer varying numbers of compartments for the ultimate lunch experience. Preschoolers can get by with three or four compartments but older kids may be interested in boxes with seven or eight places to stash food. Fill those compartments with a variety of colors and flavors so your little ones can't help but open and eat!

Planet Box and EasyLunchBoxes make good durable bento box options that are easy to fill, close, pack, and clean. If your kids like the occasional hot meal, an insulated thermos is a must-have for pasta and rice dishes, soups, and dinner leftovers.

Omie Boxes come equipped with a built-in thermos compartment for hot and cold foods. If you prefer something to stash in a lunch box, shop around for a sturdy cylinder thermos with a screw top, like the Thermos Funtainer. To help keep food warm by lunchtime, start by filling your thermos with hot water (water hot enough for tea) for at least 10 minutes. Once the container has heated, dump out the water and quickly pack in piping hot food. Use the same trick with ice water for cold foods.

Once you have chosen the right containers, it's time to pick the right outer carrying case and ice packs to help with transportation and temperature control. Carrying cases with extra pockets are a good option for storing napkins and flatware. Be sure to wipe out the inside frequently with hot, soapy water to prevent bacteria from growing in the nook and crannies.

Look for compact or flat ice packs that fit easily into lunchboxes and be sure to wash them well and refreeze after each use. For extra hot days, including frozen water bottles (which can be reused) to act as an ice pack and an extra beverage.

Best Beverages

The early school months of August and September mean lots of school days under hot and humid conditions. Since staying hydrated is vital to keeping energy levels high, pack plenty of fluids.

In addition to water bottles (which can be filled and chilled in the fridge the night before), pack blended fruit and yogurt smoothies in a thermos and stuff those reusable water bottles with citrus slices or fruit-infused ice cubes.

Snack Ideas

It’s easy to fall into a rut of packing junk food snacks in those backpacks. Instead of salty and sugar-filled processed foods like chips, cookies, and fruit snacks, make a few batches of homespun goodies like muffins, trail mix, granola, and real fruit leather. Pack these munchies along with a serving of fresh fruit or dairy (like yogurt, milk box, or a cheese stick) and you’ve got a balanced snack to help keep energy levels high between meals.

A Week of No-Fail Lunches

Think outside the box when brainstorming lunch ideas. Cut traditional lunch box foods like sandwiches an granola bars into fun shapes with cookie cutters, repurpose leftovers, use Chinese food takeout containers (food grade ones available in bulk online), and more than anything—make it fun and colorful!

You can still include treats, but instead of highly processed packaged foods, give your kids some homemade treats that don’t take a ton of time to make. Here is a week of ideas to get you started:

Was this page helpful?