*To support and grow Sunny Side Up Nutrition we sometimes earn a commission on affiliate links.
Hi! Elizabeth here. It's that time of year again. I love seeing everyone's first day of school photos! Ellie started 10th grade and Caroline started her freshman year in college (it's hard to believe!), so I'm down to packing only one lunch. Lunch packing can feel stressful at times. One thing that helps us not feel so stressed is having an array of lunch packing supplies. So, we wanted to share our favorite lunch packing supplies here. We hope these suggestions make packing lunches a little easier for you.
I always love everyone's first day of school photos
Since school is back for most everyone, many of you are likely back to packing lunches. And you may be looking to replace some of your supplies. Here are the lunch packing food jars and bottles that work best for each of us. They hold plenty of food. They aren't too hard to open - very important for younger children especially. And they don't leak!
A few of our favorite containers
Last year I purchased the THERMOS Stainless King Vacuum-Insulated Food Jar 16 Ounce in Matte Black. There are many colors available now. I ordered it because a friend told me it does the best job keeping hot food hot.
A 10 oz size Thermos Funtainer works well to keep food warm or cold for younger children. And a 16 oz size works well for food for older children.
A 12 oz cold beverage container works well for younger children and a 16 oz size works well for older children.
These 32-ounce HydroFlask containers are very popular here in the DC area. My teens covered theirs with fun stickers. The containers aren't inexpensive, but they do keep the water nice and cold. And they're light, unlike lots of other water containers.
Our favorite glass and plastic food containers
Bento boxes are all the rage. I've never used them, but Anna's youngest daughter uses this bento box from Pottery Barn packed in a Pottery Barn lunchbox. A few pluses: a percentage of the purchase goes to No Kid Hungry, kids have fewer containers to open, and they can see all their food at once. It's important to note that as kids get older, this lunch box will be too small to hold what most kids need for a filling lunch.
This Sistema container holds a sandwich and still has plenty of room for other lunch items like cookies, and fruit. You'll need to send along one or more sides in additional containers. It's not ideal for young kids because it isn't the easiest container to open. I also use these Sistema 13 oz. containers for fruits, veggies, chips, cookies, etc.
I've used these narrow Rubbermaid lunch containers for many years for items like slices of cheese, grapes, ½ an avocado, apples, carrot sticks, crackers, and small cookies. The larger, square containers are great for sandwiches. The ice blocks are handy for keeping items cool. I admittedly don't use the ice blocks very often. Sadly, these seem hard to find right now. What are your favorite plastic lunch containers? I need to find new ones because I only have a few of these left.
These Pyrex Airtight, Leakproof BPA-free storage containers are useful for packing lunches and storing leftovers. I use small rectangular containers for foods like fruit, chips, or avocado. The larger square containers I use for salads. I like the larger ones for storing and reheating leftovers. The small round containers are good for smaller sides like nuts, nut butter, and dried fruits.
We went through several different condiment containers before finding some that don't leak. We've never had trouble with these Sukki stainless steel condiment containers.
Our favorite baggies and utensils
I have this set of the Stasher silicone reusable bags to use for packing lunches. I will admit, I do use plastic baggies sometimes. Sometimes life calls for plastic baggies: when the reusable baggies are all dirty or there's a field trip and we're asked to send lunch in disposable containers.
For reusable utensils, I use some old stainless steel flatware from Ikea, but Sistsema utensils or disposable bamboo utensils work well too.
The lunch box
And finally, a good lunch box or bag to pack everything in is a must. We use a variety of lunch bags/boxes but I especially like neoprene lunch bags because they stretch which makes packing lunch easier. You won’t have to worry whether or not you have the right size containers to fit the lunch box exactly. My kids also used Pottery Barn lunch boxes when they were in elementary school.
What are your favorite lunch packing essentials? Leave a comment!
Want more lunch packing tips?
- Purchase our E-book – Your Ultimate Guide for Stress-Free Lunch Packing
- Make These Easy Baked Beans to Simplify Your Lunch Packing Routine
- Dreading School Lunch Packing? Tips for Getting the Job Done
- Lunch Packing with Teens and Tweens
- Three Easy Back to School Lunches
- 15 Minute Lentil Ragout
- What’s for Lunch
Boil some water in a kettle or pan. Once the water comes to a boil, carefully pour it into the Thermos. Screw on the lid. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Carefully unscrew the lid and pour out the hot water. Add the heated food to the Thermos and screw the lid back on.
They can help by getting out the containers you'll use, putting food in the containers, packing the sides for their lunch, packing a napkin and utensils, emptying their lunch box when they get home, and washing the containers.
We both rely a lot on leftovers from dinner. If you'd like a list of ideas, we have an e-book for purchase that contains over 40 lunch ideas: Your Ultimate Guide for Stress-Free Lunch Packing.
I would agree that these Rubbermaid containers are great. I have them and I use them for packing heavy lunches for my husband. Of course, sandwiches fit in perfectly. I never plastic baggies. They are harmful. These silicon bags look fine to me.
They're great, aren't they!?
We use the Sistema salad dressing containers and they have never leaked. They are also the perfect size for separating salad components, like sunflower seeds, that you don't want to put on the salad until you are ready to eat.
Eric, this is great to know. Thanks! I ordered them.