How We…PACK LUNCHES!

It’s How We…Wednesday!  Once a month, Erika and I host a link up where we talk about how we (fill in the blank).  We’ll share and then we’re hoping you’ll link up and share too…because I LOVE learning new things from you ladies!  So far this year, we’ve discussed…

JANUARY: Our New Year’s Resolutions.
FEBRUARY: How we take care of ourselves
MARCH: How we mom fail and live to talk about it
APRIL: How we spring clean/organize
MAY: How we transition our wardrobe
JUNE: How we plan our summer vacations
JULY: How we motivate our kids

And this month…HOW WE PACK LUNCHES!

Okay, every May when I see stuff like this on social media, I laugh my head off…

…because it’s so true!!!!! Hahahahaha!  It makes me laugh every time!

In September, friends, I’m a fairly good “lunch maker”, but by the end of school, I’ve lost all motivation.

We’ve talked about it already and here’s what we’re going to do this school year.  After I tell you, I’d LOVE to hear your suggestions and ideas too!!

This year…I’m going to make my two big kids make their own lunches every day.

This was basically Smith’s reaction.

Kensington was pumped…Smith was not.

I’ve always made their lunches for school (my kids do not want to eat the cafeteria lunches), but this year, I’m passing the baton.  We made a list of things they would want in their lunch, and I told them I would buy everything…they just have to assemble.  Easy enough, right?  #wellsee

I’ve blogged many times about these…

 

Yumboxes!

Smith says he’s too big for them this year (and needs more food than they hold), but Kensington, Ashby and Madeley still want to use them.  They’re great for serving little individual bites of things that I normally wouldn’t pack in a lunch (like salsa).

Here is what my kids said they want in their lunches every day this year:
1. Kensington really wants me to start putting leftovers in her lunch.  Now, it won’t be hot by the time she eats (and they can’t heat it up there), so if you have suggestions for great containers to keep food warm in a lunch box, please share!
2. Sandwiches
3. Wraps (my kids prefer wraps to sandwiches most days)
4. Trail mix
5. Hummus
6. Chips and salsa
7. Celery and peanut butter
8. Carrots and ranch
9. Cheese slices
10. Any fruit (strawberries, grapes, blueberries, bananas etc)
11. Yogurt
12. Pretzels
13. Goldfish crackers
14. something sweet

Nothing crazy out of the ordinary here!  I do like to assemble most of their lunch on Sunday afternoon (bag up things like carrots, chips and grapes, divide up yogurt, make sandwiches that won’t get soggy, etc).  I told my big kids they can do the same or they can make them every day instead.

Question for you guys…

…our town just opened a Costco this summer, so I went the other day to stock up on things for school lunches.  I used to drive to the next town over when the kids were little and buy things like diapers and wipes from Costco, but it’s been awhile, and I need some tips!  All of you Costco experts out there, what should I be buying in bulk that my kids would love in their lunches?  We bought things like Veggie Straws, yogurt, packages of goldfish and such the other day, but I know there are probably so many things I could get that would make our lunch making even easier (and more fun!).  If you have ideas, please tell me!

I have been pinning back to school lunch ideas here…

…so check it out if you need some more inspiration 🙂 .

Okay…your turn!  What’s your strategy for school lunches?  Tips?  Ideas?  Suggestions?  Please share!!

If you missed this on Monday

Back to School Everything

…check it out HERE.

If you blogged How We…Wednesday today too, make sure you link up below!

Here’s a list of what’s coming up the rest of the year…

Happy Wednesday, everyone!  I hope you have the BEST day!

 

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156 Comments

  • Reply Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog August 8, 2018 at 4:44 am

    I really like how colourful the lunchboxes look! I’m sure the kids have tons of fun eating from them. 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  • Reply Cheryl Schuh August 8, 2018 at 4:51 am

    I’ve heard to take a thermos and boil water and put it in there for a couple of minutes and then dump and wipe dry. Put heated food in after that and it may stay warmer.

    • Reply Brooke August 8, 2018 at 8:29 am

      Yes! This exactly what I did when my kids were younger.

    • Reply Maddie August 8, 2018 at 8:35 am

      Yes!! Was going to comment that. Food stays so hot that way! I’ve gotten thermoses from both Amazon and Target!

    • Reply Mireya T August 8, 2018 at 8:51 am

      I do this and it totally works!

    • Reply Aundi August 8, 2018 at 9:02 am

      This 100% works! My dad always packed our lunches growing up while all of us girls (my mom, sister & I) were getting ready, and he would use this trick. Our soup or whatever would still be piping hot when it was lunchtime. Also, we’d use the nicer thermoses that use glass as an insulator. The only problem is if you drop your lunchbox too hard, the glass inside breaks and the thermos is no longer insulated.

    • Reply Kelly Bricj August 8, 2018 at 9:12 am

      This works beautifully to keep warm food from getting cold. My daughter loves soup in the winter and it’s always hot and steamy when she opens it at 1pm. She has also asked me to send her with the rice/sausage/veggie stuffing that I stuff bell peppers with and that has always stayed warm for her as well. If you don’t put boiling water in first it stays warm but not piping hot and that makes me kind of freaked out that the food will go bad. We use the thermos brand but I have heard good things about the pottery barn ones as well.

    • Reply Katie Mayeaux August 8, 2018 at 12:20 pm

      I do this except I just run really hot water from the sink (I don’t have time to wait for water to boil when trying to get out the door..haha) and then microwave the food until it is really hot before putting in the thermos. This works great. I have found cute little thermos’ on Amazon.

      • Reply Tamara H August 9, 2018 at 8:57 pm

        Sometimes to switch things up my daughter likes to take bran muffins with butter/honey, fruit, cheese sticks and pudding or yogurt. Also, our grocery store used to carry “pizza pretzels “ in the bakery, but no longer do. Perhaps a future recipe for you to develop? They were awesome for lunches!

    • Reply Renea August 8, 2018 at 8:39 pm

      Yes! This!!

    • Reply Megan August 9, 2018 at 12:48 am

      Yes! Was going to type this too! It works great!

    • Reply Erin Owens August 9, 2018 at 1:13 pm

      Yes! This! I use my keurig for the hot water. Super easy.

    • Reply Alice H August 9, 2018 at 2:12 pm

      Yes! My son loves “ramen noodles” which I make using whole wheat noodles and low sodium soy sauce, lol. And I heat his thermos up this way.

  • Reply Courtney Beaudry August 8, 2018 at 5:02 am

    Mini hummus packages are great from Costco!

    • Reply Kelly August 8, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      Kirkland mini hummus’ are my favorite!

  • Reply Emmy August 8, 2018 at 5:04 am

    Thermos containers work great to keep food warm! My son likes to take soup in the winter so I heat it in another container, usually heating it twice as long as I normally would so it’s piping hot. Put it in the thermos and then put it in the lunch box with no ice pack. He said it’s still warm at lunchtime!

  • Reply Becky August 8, 2018 at 5:06 am

    Since we homeschool I am clueless on packing lunches but on a random side note check out a book called All of Us by Brian Anderson its trending number one on Amazon books on adoption. It’s about one family and one small town (mine) rallied behind one little girl. It’s a beautiful story.

  • Reply Danielle August 8, 2018 at 5:33 am

    Hi Shay! I am ordering a yumbox for my son starting pre-k this year. Do you have one or more than one? Probably makes things easier to buy more than one?

    • Reply Mix and Match Mama August 8, 2018 at 8:10 am

      Yes! That way, you’re not having to wash and repack every single day.

  • Reply Melissa August 8, 2018 at 5:34 am

    We love the Yumboxes around here too! As far as trying to keep foods hot in the lunchbox, I use this trick sometimes… take one of those thermoses that are made for soups. Then I fill it with super hot or boiling water for an hour (lets me honest, sometimes I remember when the kids are heading out the door and it’s only 10 minutes) so that its already hot when I actually add the food in. Warm the food up extra hot (pasta, soup, meat, chicken nuggets wrapped in a paper towel to absorb moisture) and put it in the emptied thermos. My kids have never said their food got cold but I should probably check to be sure at some point!

    • Reply Mary B August 8, 2018 at 9:14 am

      Yes, my son wanted to start taking leftovers last year, too, and we did this! I used my keurig to dispense hot water into the thermos (ours was from Walmart) & closed it up while I got the rest of his lunch stuff out (so let it sit maybe 5-10 mins?). I reheated whatever he was taking (soup, chili, casserole, meatballs, etc…) in the microwave. Then dump the water out (I don’t even dry it) and put in the food & close it up. He said it would stay warm til lunch, which was maybe 4 hours after I packed it.

      • Reply Jenni August 14, 2018 at 1:41 am

        I use this exactl method except I “boil” the water in the microwave first cuz I don’t have a Keurig – I prep two huge cups of water and put them in the microwave before I go to bed at night so in the morning I just hit start for three minutes to start the ‘preheat process’.’ Our thermoses are Walmart brand as well, the silver ones and they were awesome the entire year past year and kids get a hot lunch from home.

  • Reply Lydia August 8, 2018 at 5:45 am

    Thermos makes great leftover holders! It’s fun to shop for the size/color you want, but I’ll link to the one we have around here. (Just note…the fuller they are, the better they seem to work for us at holding heat, so I would definitely think about what size would have enough space but not too much for what you want.)

    https://www.amazon.com/Thermos-Ounce-Food-Folding-Spoon/dp/B0136JJCGO/ref=mp_s_a_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1533723793&sr=8-4&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=thermos+with+spoon&dpPl=1&dpID=413I%2BV31IIL&ref=plSrch

  • Reply Elizabeth Feldpausch August 8, 2018 at 6:00 am

    Our local news just did a piece on thermos containers for kids lunches and the RTIC thermos kept the leftover pasta the warmest for 4 hours- if you’re looking for something to send leftovers in for K!

    • Reply Christine Muñoz August 8, 2018 at 12:58 pm

      I was going to suggest a Yeti or RTic. It’s what we use!

  • Reply Emily August 8, 2018 at 6:01 am

    The peanut butter filled pretzels from Costco are my go to snack food.

  • Reply Sonia August 8, 2018 at 6:04 am

    It is so great that you are teaching your children independence in making their own lunches each day. It’ll also be their choice to ensure that they pack what they enjoy eating. I found that the wide mouth (for easy clean) Thermos brand is really good for keeping thigs hot/warm. Little tip, I boil water in the morning and fill the thermos, close the lid and leave it for about 5 minutes. During that time I am heating up my left overs and once the food is HOT I dump the water from the thermos out and add the food and quickly close up the lid. Lunch may not be piping hot, but is definitely hot to warm by the time I eat it. Costco has a large variety of items to help with lunches and snacks. I love the dips and all the different crackers to the veggie/fruit trays and all the safe for school snacks. Loving their sweet potato tortilla chips at the moment and the Made Good salty/sweet granola bars (safe for school and it’s loaded with veggies but they’d never know). Hope this helps! Have a fabulous day Shay!

  • Reply Kasey August 8, 2018 at 6:04 am

    My oldest takes hot lunch most days. I boil water in microwave, pour into thermos to “heat” the thermos, then heat the food. Pour out the water after 4-5 mins, put hot food in. He takes pasta, chili, soup, hotdogs, leftovers, chicken nuggets etc in his thermos. If you put something like chicken nuggets, to avoid sogginess, put a paper towel at the bottom of the thermos to soak up the moisture.

  • Reply Alexis deZayas August 8, 2018 at 6:08 am

    If you ever have soup leftovers Yeti makes canteens that work wonders for keeping things warm! It’s just not an ideal shape for all meals 🙂

  • Reply Amy Scott August 8, 2018 at 6:10 am

    https://wordpress.com/post/coffeeandcocktailsatthecasa.com/1450

    Hi Shay! This is my recent post on shopping at Costco. It isn’t just about school lunches, but I thought you might like it.
    You can save big money on tortillas, cheese, and lunch meet. If you go through a lot of fruit it is a great place for that, too, except their bananas go bad super fast for me.
    Hope this helps – long time reader and I’m a new blogger.
    Amy
    http://www.coffeeandcocktailsatthecasa.com

    • Reply Amy Scott August 8, 2018 at 1:51 pm

      Meat*

    • Reply Sandy Manning August 9, 2018 at 10:52 am

      Something is wrong with your link. It wouldn’t load.

  • Reply Beth K August 8, 2018 at 6:10 am

    I would suggest keeping warm food in a thermos. My mom used to put them in the thermos that matched my lunchbox when I was a kid, but now I feel like you could get some kind of Yeti, fill it and it would stay pretty warm. Spaghettios, casseroles, soups, etc. all stayed warm enough for me to eat since I couldn’t warm it up either!

  • Reply Sarah August 8, 2018 at 6:13 am

    I’ve heard great things about the Omiebox for a bento lunch box to hold both cold and hot food! It has a removable insert that keeps one part hot and seems like it would be perfect for packing leftovers for K! We also use the yumbox and the Thermos foogo for hot things like pasta!

    • Reply mindy August 9, 2018 at 11:57 pm

      i just looked up the omiebox & i love it! hopefully it’s as good as it says as i am going to order one.

  • Reply Kelly August 8, 2018 at 6:25 am

    We use a plain thermos that you can get at Walmart or Target for leftovers. Fill with hot, hot water while heating the food (in another container), pour out water and fill thermos with food. Food is still usually warm by lunch.

  • Reply Christy Latimore August 8, 2018 at 6:34 am

    I haven’t done this personally, but PBK sells those smaller thermos containers that are supposed to keep things warm. I know for soups and stuff it would work, but you’re creative so I would imagine you could find other food items that Kensington could put in there.

  • Reply Kimberly August 8, 2018 at 6:34 am

    My son requests leftovers for lunch quite frequently, especially pasta dishes, chili and soup. Cold lunches get boring fast! We have a small thermos brand thermos that keeps the food warm enough until lunch time. I simply follow the heating instructions, fill the thermos with boiling water, let it sit for 10 minutes, empty the water and add the hot food. The thermos always comes home empty!

  • Reply Carrie August 8, 2018 at 6:40 am

    We LOVE Costco! We shop there for almost everything! It’s hard to beat their prices. I’m a teacher and I take my lunch every day too. I love the box of individual Goldfish bags. I take one with me daily 😊 There are tons of lunch options at Costco. My lunchbox is also from Costco and it’s pretty good! My daughters made their own lunches when they where in grade school. They didn’t always like it, but it sure made getting out of the house easier for me.

  • Reply Jamie August 8, 2018 at 6:40 am

    Our Costco has a large bag with 8 individuals bags of organic apple slices. We love those for lunches! They don’t turn brown, or have an “off” taste. As far as keeping leftovers warm; I use small thermoses, and heat the food in the microwave. Meanwhile, I fill the thermos with HOT water and let it sit. Once the food is microwaved, I dump out the water, dry the thermos and put in the hot food. My kids say their food is still warm!

  • Reply Carrie August 8, 2018 at 6:46 am

    We use the easy lunch boxes with the Pack-it lunch boxes

    https://www.amazon.com/EasyLunchboxes-3-Compartment-Bento-Containers-Classic/dp/B004S129AQ/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1533727916&sr=8-3&keywords=ez+lunch+boxes

    They are inexpensive but they certainly last the whole year, in fact I am going to replace them this year and we have had them for 3 years. The only reason I am replacing them is that my oldest has a tendency to be rough with things and she has finally cracked the edge on a few lids. I love the Pack-it lunch boxes because they have the freezer material inside of them and are stored in the freezer. They usually come home still very cold.

    As for what I pack, sure the beginning of the year is creative and by the end we are on a rotation of about 3 main things. I typically stay away from snack items/processed items in their lunches. They sometimes have them as snacks at other times but I feel like when I can control it, I avoid them. My girls love veggies and so I do a compartment usually of a variety (spinach, carrots, cucumbers, shredded Brussel sprouts, tomatoes, etc) and then a compartment of fruit and then the main part which could be wraps, sandwiches, leftovers, hardboiled eggs, tuna, deconstructed sandwich, bagel pizzas, nuts, etc. Sometimes I put in a big salad with chicken or beans. It varies. I try a few times a month to stick in a treat but it isn’t often and they complain but they will get over it. I sometimes throw in new things because if they are hungry they often will try it or have an opinion when they get home, ha!
    This is the thermos I use.
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0017IFSIS?aaxitk=-ZkokGXLYBP6wEkL0Plz0A&pd_rd_i=B0017IFSIS&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=54dc821a-0937-4e6f-9da9-f8dd5443145d&pf_rd_s=desktop-sx-top-slot&pf_rd_t=301&pf_rd_i=thermos+brand+thermoses&hsa_cr_id=7823288870601&sb-ci-n=asinImage&sb-ci-v=https%3A%2F%2Fimages-na.ssl-images-amazon.com%2Fimages%2FI%2F41h%2BHt2ibXL.jpg&sb-ci-a=B0017IFSIS

    I find hot lunches are so tricky, especially if you have other items to also keep cold. For the thermos, I pour boiling water inside first and let it sit while I heat up the food. I then dump it and dry it and put the food inside. My kids say it stays warm.

  • Reply Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams August 8, 2018 at 6:46 am

    I know these ideas are for kids lunches but I need some new ideas for myself too lol. I resort to making what looks like the PB&J box from starbucks most days.

    Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams

    • Reply Paula August 8, 2018 at 8:59 am

      Lol! I LOVE the protein box from Starbucks. I wish I could recreate that bread in there…

  • Reply Joanna August 8, 2018 at 6:51 am

    To keep leftovers hot for my daughter by the time lunch rolls around, I heat up the food and then put it in a thermos or whatever container is doable for what the leftover is. Then I wrap that container/thermos in tinfoil to help keep the warmth in until it’s time for her to eat. She has said that her food is still warm by the time she eats.

  • Reply Nicole August 8, 2018 at 6:52 am

    Good Morning!
    Mama to 5 boys here! (4 of whom are school age)
    For packing lunches for the week I do some prep work on Sunday , I pack up individual portions of cookies, crackers, granola bars , fruit cups etc.. into designated bins in the cupboard
    I also have one in the fridge for fruit, veggies, cheese sticks, yogurt…
    Each night before school they pack ( I just verify it’s balanced choices) everything except the sandwich ( my kids HATE cold bread/soggy sandwiches) into their lunchboxes or bags ( for the high schoolers) if they are having a pb sandwich it gets made and sits in a baggie on the counter until the morning when it’s added to the bag/box before leaving, if it’s a lunchmeat sandwich or leftovers to be heated it’s made in the morning and added to the box/bag before leaving
    For leftovers we use good old thermos containers made for lunch boxes I heat up boiling water and let it sit in the container until just before leaving, then I dump it and add the heated leftovers into it… the boys say it works great!
    Mine do buy on the occasional day that is pizza or breakfast

  • Reply Jennifer August 8, 2018 at 6:54 am

    Thanks for sharing your ideas! We like the Thermos Funtainer for keeping food warm for school lunches. My daughter picked the Frozen one! https://www.amazon.com/Thermos-Funtainer-Ounce-Food-Blue/dp/B00MBMR7CO/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1533729198&sr=8-4&keywords=Thermos%2Bfuntainer&th=1

  • Reply Elizabeth August 8, 2018 at 6:55 am

    I am looking forward to coming back later and reading the comments on here because I actually need lunch ideas for myself for work! I typically pack the same stuff- wraps, salads, and cous-cous bowls..but I’m getting pretty tired of it! I need some fresh new ideas! Hopefully this comments section will provide me with some meal prepping motivation!

  • Reply Beth Miller August 8, 2018 at 7:01 am

    I use Pottery Barn bento boxes for my girls. They are 4th and K. They get the same thing for lunch almost every day to keep grocery shopping easy. Turkey roll ups, pepperoni slices, cheese, carrot sticks, mini peppers, and some kind of fruit. We usually do “mac and cheese” Mondays since that’s my grocery day. The Thermos brand lunch containers keep it pretty warm until lunch. They work great for leftovers too! I let them buy their lunch on Thursdays since it’s Mexican day at their school. I actually love packing their lunch since I like it to be as healthy as possible!

  • Reply Dana A August 8, 2018 at 7:02 am

    I just saw that they make a larger Yum Box. Smith might enjoy that size. LOL!

  • Reply Tina August 8, 2018 at 7:11 am

    Was wondering which water bottles you use to go along with your lunches?

  • Reply Jennifer Werth August 8, 2018 at 7:11 am

    A kids thermos works great for sending leftovers and soups! Boil water and pour it in the thermos and let it sit for a few minutes first to heat the inside before emptying and adding leftovers! We also wrap hot sandwiches like grilled cheese, sloppy joes, tacos, etc. in foil to help keep warm until lunch time!

  • Reply Jennifer August 8, 2018 at 7:13 am

    A kids thermos works great for sending leftovers and soups! Boil water and pour it in the thermos and let it sit for a few minutes first to heat the inside before emptying and adding leftovers! We also wrap hot sandwiches like grilled cheese, sloppy joes, tacos, etc. in foil to help keep warm until lunch time!

  • Reply Amber Gooch August 8, 2018 at 7:14 am

    The Thermos company has a great lunchbox-size container that I send in my daughter’s lunch. She loves leftovers, too! I always ask her if her lunch was warm and she says it is! I heat the leftovers up pretty hot and they stay warm in there. Win!!

  • Reply Adrienne August 8, 2018 at 7:14 am

    Follow igotitatcostco on Instagram! She has the best tips for what to get there.

  • Reply Eileen August 8, 2018 at 7:14 am

    We microwave food in the morning before school and put it in a short thermos. I usually heat it hotter than I would if I was serving it right then. The thermos doesn’t keep it hot, but my kids say it stays warm-ish.

  • Reply Denise Mathews August 8, 2018 at 7:21 am

    I too make my girls make a list of what they want in their lunches so I can get ideas especially when stuck in a rut. The cheese sticks are really good at Costco. They have some sort of organic fruit stick (like a fruit roll up but made with real fruit) that are really good too. I’ll be back to look for suggestions, if they eat the same thing too much then they just won’t eat it any more 🙁

  • Reply Julie August 8, 2018 at 7:35 am

    My daughter has been using kid size Thermos brand containers for her hot lunch foods for years and they work great. Target usually has them out now to buy. Also, I usually buy cheese sticks and juice boxes in bulk at Costco for lunches. Dry cereal is hit for lunch around here too.

  • Reply Johannah Sirois August 8, 2018 at 7:36 am

    We just purchased our first yumbox last week for my youngest who will be starting Pre-K. We’re excited to try it out! My oldest LOVES to take leftovers to school. Especially noodles, pasta and soup. I ordered her the 12 oz. rover Simply Modern thermos from Amazon. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076HH26R3/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    It keeps her food hot until it’s time to eat! We love it =)

  • Reply Janda August 8, 2018 at 7:42 am

    To keep food warm, the boys use Thermos Funtainer food containers. The trick is to hear up the container with hot water for 10ish minutes before you put the food in it. Costco sells individual hummus cups and guacamole cups that we used in the school lunches to dip with veggies. The Stonyfield yogurt smoothies were also a big favorite.

  • Reply Cassi August 8, 2018 at 7:43 am

    Thermos! My daughter loves leftovers in her lunch, and we use the thermos 2-3 times a week. I usually boil some water, and put it in the thermos with the lid on. I leave it in there for 5-10 min while preparing the rest of the lunch and heating up the leftovers, then dump the water, wipe it out and put the heated food in. My daughters favorite is leftover soups in the winter.

    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Thermos-10-oz-Stainless-Steel-Food-Jar/15913596

  • Reply Kelly August 8, 2018 at 7:46 am

    My son will take a few leftovers for his lunch (spaghetti, chili/taco soup, etc). We use this thermos from Amazon and he says the food is still warm when he eats it at lunch. I do put super hot water in it in the morning for a few minutes before I put the reheated leftovers in the thermos. I’ve started having my kids make their snacks for school and pack their lunches once I’ve assembled them…good luck with your new approach!

    https://www.amazon.com/Thermos-Funtainer-Ounce-Food-Blue/dp/B00CBFAE6W/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1533732155&sr=8-3&keywords=thermos+lunch+container

  • Reply Erin Port August 8, 2018 at 7:53 am

    Costco has yummy peanut butter filled pretzels my kids really like. I use to make my lunch growing up. I like the ideas of prepping a bunch of food on Sunday and then having them select what they want that day based on the weekly options. Now, this sounds good in theory, let’s see if I pull it off!

  • Reply WhittyWife August 8, 2018 at 7:59 am

    I think it’s a great idea having Kensington and Smith make their own lunches! Also, if you ever want to share lunch ideas/tips for working mamas (and their hubby’s!), or just busy adults, I’d love it! I need some lunch inspiration for myself, and like you’ve said in the past, I also don’t love leftovers.

  • Reply Elspeth Mizner August 8, 2018 at 8:03 am

    I’m into meal planning to! Great that you are having them pack their lunch!

  • Reply Meghann August 8, 2018 at 8:03 am

    For hot food: fill a Thermos container with boiling water and put on lid, let sit for 15-20 minutes to warm the container…food stays warm enough, my kids have never complained about cold pasta or meat!

  • Reply Jessi's Design August 8, 2018 at 8:07 am

    This is JUST what I was looking for since my little one starts preK a week from today! Thanks for sharing! xo

  • Reply Susan August 8, 2018 at 8:11 am

    My daughter liked to take Lean Cuisine or pasta leftovers. So she would make it the morning of and put it in a Thermos. You could use one for Kensington’s hot food. Also, granola bars, and the trail mix packages from Costco are a fun thing to add to the lunches. I’m down to one lunch this year. My daughter is heading to college on Friday. 🙁

  • Reply Angela August 8, 2018 at 8:11 am

    I love the idea of the kids making their own lunches! I use the Yumboxes for days that my daughter wants a little of everything. Last year she also asked about bringing hot food, I found the OmieBox Bento Lunch Box with Insulated Thermos on Amazon and it has worked out excellent for us. It fits perfectly into the “insulated” pottery barn lunch box and the thermos part can be removed for days she doesn’t want a hot meal. We go back and forth between the Yumbox and OmieBox depending on what she wants for lunch, its helpful having the option.

  • Reply Kelsey August 8, 2018 at 8:12 am

    Those lunches look SO good! It’s still too hot yet but I loved taking soup in a thermos when I was in school for the fall/winter! It stayed hot and tasted so yummy! Easy to pack too 🙂

  • Reply Alison Trauger August 8, 2018 at 8:12 am

    Do your kiddos like hard boiled eggs? Costco has organic ones that are already peeled and individually packaged in pairs. They are great! My family loves them. Great source of protein. 😉 And they work perfectly for lunches, snacks in between sports, etc.

  • Reply Jackie August 8, 2018 at 8:14 am

    So excited to see all of the tips in the comments section on this one. This is a DAILY STRUGGLE for us.
    A couple of hacks I have discovered: my son loves PB&J, but like most schools his is peanut free. We have found sun butter is a good alternative. Same texture and almost the same taste. You also gave me the idea of pasta salad on your last post about lunches. My kids seem to think that makes their lunch a little fancier. It is super easy to make at the beginning of the week and keeps well throughout the week. Same thing with half of a sweet potato or baked potato.
    My son loves his Yum Boxes (one for his breakfast and one for his lunch) and my daughter loves her Bentgo box (I find this one to be easier to clean compared to the Yum Box but has less room for food). Also, pizza night is twice as tempting these days because the kids love a leftover piece in their lunch the next day.
    Can’t wait to see what everyone else has to share!

  • Reply Alison August 8, 2018 at 8:26 am

    We like this Thermos. It has a removable insert you can put right in microwave instead of heating in separate dish. We have even bought extra inside containers. When I make a big batch of soup, I fill the containers on Sunday and then heat the day we use them. Very convenient.
    Thermos 12 Ounce Food Jar with Microwavable Container, Stainless Steel https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EO0K1M4/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_l7UABb707C1D4

  • Reply Kelli August 8, 2018 at 8:30 am

    To keep foods hot until lunch, I have 10 & 16 oz Thermos food containers. In the mornings as I’m packing the kids’ lunches, I heat up water in the microwave and fill the containers with the HOT water. Then I heat up the food that they are taking that day. Then pour out the hot water, put the hot food in and seal. The food stays warm until lunch!

  • Reply Kate August 8, 2018 at 8:31 am

    Any advice for making sandwiches ahead of time and them not getting soggy? Thanks!

    • Reply Mix and Match Mama August 8, 2018 at 8:51 am

      I don’t make things like PB&J but if it doesn’t have a sauce on it (like a turkey and cheese wrap), it stays fresh!

    • Reply Carrie August 8, 2018 at 12:24 pm

      I don’t use peanut butter due to an allergy but we use either almond, wowbutter, or sunbutter so maybe this factors in? Any how I have found higher quality bread or homemade bread helps, putting the “butter” on both breads and the jelly in between also helps. I make lunches either for the whole week on Sunday or a few days ahead.

  • Reply Ro August 8, 2018 at 8:40 am

    If it’s in their lunch….it came from Costco.
    Breakfast: cereal bar, goyurt
    Snack: string cheese
    Lunch: tortilla wrap (seriously just salami slices and tortilla OR uncrustable, cheese slices, applesauce
    2nd snack: animal crackers OR veggie straws

  • Reply AliJ August 8, 2018 at 8:40 am

    My daughter loves their grilled chicken strips that you can buy at Costco that are already cooked. She’ll take ranch or ketchup in her lunch to dip the chicken in. I’ll use it in my lunches for chicken wraps or salads.

  • Reply Kristen Walters August 8, 2018 at 8:42 am

    I don’t have many suggestions, sadly my kiddos hardly eat lunch at school because they say they don’t have enough time😞 so when school lets out at 2:45 they are starving!!! Now I’m sure it’s a combination of things- they truly aren’t given much time to eat (that’s why my girls don’t buy lunch at school or at least 1 of the reasons bc by the time they get through the line and to the table they have even less time) and my girls are little social butterflies😂 My son is very social but I guess priorities wins out and he usually eats a decent lunch! I will say my son likes to take leftovers too for lunch and a small thermos container works well.

  • Reply Sherry Kenney August 8, 2018 at 8:45 am

    I recommend taking a bath/shower and reading while they pack😂 Of course you will want to oversee at first, but once they’ve got it down, I’ve found it was much better for me to just get out of the kitchen and let them pack…instead of trying to hurry them along at my pace. It will still get done, and I’m much happier at bedtime when I’ve had those few minutes to myself.

    • Reply Mix and Match Mama August 8, 2018 at 8:50 am

      Hahahaha! this is brilliant, Sherry!

  • Reply Kaitlyn August 8, 2018 at 8:52 am

    Coconut Clusters by innofoods and Martin’s Crispy Apple Chips are two of my favourite Costco finds!

  • Reply Erika De Jong August 8, 2018 at 8:54 am

    From Costco for my kids, I get Mini Guacamole dips, babybel cheese, small drinkable yogurts, Gogo squeeze applesauce, biscoff cookies and cookie butter dip packs for something sweet and the Kirkland chocolate chip chewy granola bars!

  • Reply Taylor August 8, 2018 at 8:55 am

    I bring hot leftovers to work almost every work day, and my Thermos brand containers work GREAT and are totally sealed! I haven’t even had to pre-heat them, I just heat up my soup/stir-fry/whatever and dump it in! Nice, warm lunch, with no need to microwave (I actually have access to a microwave, I just think most leftovers taste better heated stove-top or in the oven). There are fun kids ones too – I always see them when I’m ordering new ones for me! I think 100daysofrealfood.com reviews some of them specifically for packed lunches, if you want to see some comparisons and options!

  • Reply Sam August 8, 2018 at 8:56 am

    I freeze go gurts and then either cut them in half and put them both in the long part at the top of the yumbox (that’s great for little’s who can’t rip it open) or leave it whole just in the lunch box. But they go on sale at Costco often then I stock up. Things I get at Costco apple sauce, trail mix, fig bars, tortillas, lunch meat, crackers (animal, gold fish, reagular), cheese, there pre made soups are great for lunches and make it so easy, little hummus packs and gauc packs, basically anything I would normally buy at the grocery store but for more and cheaper. Two growing boys who eat more then me!

  • Reply DANIELLE K RIGG August 8, 2018 at 8:58 am

    Morning, We use Thermos brand and also L.L. Beans thermos. Both work great to keep food warm come lunch time.
    Cosco is great for all the snack to put in. I also go to BJ’S – deli meat is cheaper there and good. So I am assuming Cosco would be too. You can also find Thermos brands there at both for the thermos’.

  • Reply Angela Ellingson August 8, 2018 at 9:06 am

    Way to delegate! I need to do more of that with my kiddos. My bigs are going into 2nd and Kinder this year. 🙂

  • Reply Tamsyn August 8, 2018 at 9:07 am

    Costco has great individual guacamole packs and hummus packs. They also have something called cranberry almond chicken salad that are indicually packed and kids love them!

  • Reply Abby August 8, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Costco’s little guacamole and chicken salad cups are really good and easy to pack!

  • Reply Bethany Gordon August 8, 2018 at 9:18 am

    That all sounds fabulous… I’m definitely going to buy one of those yum boxes. Here in England the children get free school meals up to the age of 7. Then we pay or the take their own pack lunches. And most lunches boxes are filled with boring sandwiches. Don’t get me wrong the odd sandwich is lovely but not everyday. My son takes pack lunch everyday to school except weds. Our family rule is he can’t have the same lunch twice in a week. ( trying to give him variety) we make homemade pizzas that he eats cold, pesto pasta with Parmesan (this can be heated up) cheese topped bread, crackers and cheese.

  • Reply Michelle August 8, 2018 at 9:20 am

    We buy the mini laughing cow cheese and serve with crackers. I recently bought the laughing cow packs with the breadsticks. Mini Guacamole cups and the hummus with the pretzels in the same pack. They also have mini chicken tacos. You could bake them the nite before and serve them cold the next day (They are still good)! They would fit in the boxes and you could serve with the salsa or some sour cream.

  • Reply Linda Filtzkowski August 8, 2018 at 9:26 am

    We use a small Thermos, I put hot water(just from my sink) in it a few minutes while the leftovers heat up, dump the water and fill. It is still hot at lunch time. Sometimes the cover can be a little tight to get off but she just asked one of the boys help open it if she couldn’t get it!! This was a great option for us so I didn’t have to send a sandwich every day. This year we are sticking to strictly school lunches as they now have a hot lunch bar and a soup/salad bar to choose from. Yeah!!!

  • Reply Kalynn Batkoski August 8, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Costco…oh man. Things we get on a regular basis for the kiddos: individual hummus, individual guacamole, in the cold aisles they have these Sargento packs with nuts, cheese, and crasins, Pure organic layered fruit bars, Fig bars, trail mix packs, the English cucumbers that come in a 3 pack and we slice them up to go with the hummus, they also seem to have better prices on larger packs of organic fruit (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.). Their veggie trays are cheap too so we’ll get those and back up portions. The thing about Costco is that they are always changing out their items so you kind of have to go up and down the aisles each time to see what gems you can find!

  • Reply Lauren August 8, 2018 at 9:37 am

    My kids are so excited to use their yumboxes and PBK lunchboxes that I bought after reading your blog. As far as Costco goes, my kids love the individual Kirkland brand hummus and we also buy the individual guacamole cups. The little fig bars they sell in the snacks section are good and cheese sticks are favorites as well.

  • Reply Shari Florio August 8, 2018 at 9:40 am

    I recently purchased a Thermos to keep some foods warm in lunch box. Other great finds at Costco are Pirates Booty, Trail Mix, and the mini gatorades! I’m new at this whole packing lunch thing, as my son is only starting Kindergarten this year! Thanks for your tips!

  • Reply Kelly August 8, 2018 at 9:46 am

    OK, this isn’t necessarily about lunches but about costco… their rotisserie chickens are the asolutele best and best price. They are a great size and so fresh and moist. I often uy two a week to have on hand for soups and for quesadillas for lunches.

  • Reply Melissa August 8, 2018 at 9:53 am

    I pack lunches daily for my kids and we have found this product that we use and it keeps the kids lunches warm:

    https://www.amazon.com/Zojirushi-SL-JAE14SA-Bento-Stainless-Silver/dp/B000246GSE/ref=sr_1_5?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1533739881&sr=1-5&keywords=Zojirushi

  • Reply Katy A August 8, 2018 at 9:55 am

    I realized looking in my kitchen this morning that it would be easier to say what isn’t from Costco! For lunches and snacks I love the individual guacamole packs, the hard boiled eggs, fruit (grapes, strawberries, blueberries), the yogurt tubes, the snap pea crisps, the whisp Parmesan crackers, the food should taste good or tortilla chips, all the nuts (almonds, cashews, trail mix), the red wax cheeses, cherry tomatoes, Lara bars, crunchy rice rolls, roasted seaweed, and I’m sure I’m forgetting stuff. I had no idea how much I love and buy there until you asked the question!

  • Reply JH August 8, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Taylor, I was going to mention that website as well. She has a ton of lunch ideas and make-ahead recipes for kids (or adults!). I’ve sent grilled cheese or pizza wrapped in a paper towel to soak up moisture and then in aluminum foil to keep the heat in. Hard boiled eggs or deviled eggs, prosciutto-wrapped melon, and caprese skewers with a little pesto to dip them in are also yummy for a sandwich/wrap break. I also second the suggestion of individual hummus, guac, and almond butter packs.

  • Reply Emily August 8, 2018 at 9:59 am

    Two suggestions. 1) The blogger behind 100 Days of Real Food has an e-book about making lunches that I find helpful. She suggests making things that freeze and then they thaw and ready to each for lunch. No need to heat. 2) For Smith, you might try a Planetbox. It holds a ton of food and I really love that its foldable stainless steel. It goes flat and right into the dishwasher.

  • Reply Angela Sharbono August 8, 2018 at 9:59 am

    I buy individual hummus containers, babybel cheese, fruit cups (like aplesauce, peaches, Mandarin oranges), baby carrots, naked juices, cherry tomatoes, nuts, Premier protein drinks (for breakfast sometimes), pickled asparagus, individually prepared salads and bottled water all from Costco 🙂

  • Reply Rosey August 8, 2018 at 10:15 am

    Boil up some water and let it sit in the thermos funtainer. It keeps the steel nice and hot and nuke up last night’s dinner and then seal it. It should stay nice and hot for K’s lunch. I do this for my toddler when we are out and don’t want to make a third stop to Chick-fil-A in a week! 😉

  • Reply Melissa August 8, 2018 at 10:15 am

    My kids take an organic Kirkland Chocolate Milk box in their lunch everyday. They are much cheaper than the store and they love them! Also, Costco has great fruit leather and fig bars, and their own brand of Babybel type cheese that is a more cheddar than mozzarella.

  • Reply Patty August 8, 2018 at 11:15 am

    Ok, the key to keeping food warm in a thermos is you need to heat the inside of the thermos first.

    1. Boil water in the microwave
    2. Pour warm water into the thermos and put on the lid.
    3. Heat food in microwave.
    4. Discard warm water from thermos, pour warmed food into thermos and close lid.

    The key is to put warm food into the warmed thermos. Hockey Guy always says his food is still warm at lunch when we do it this way.

    Enjoy the Best hot lunch!

    Patty
    Goodbetterbestfood.blogspot.com

  • Reply Patty August 8, 2018 at 11:28 am

    We love the little individual guacamole and hummus containers from Costco for packed lunches. And the little babybel cheeses are fun too. I’m so glad I read the comments, I’ve never heard of this boiling water in a thermos trick.

  • Reply EKW August 8, 2018 at 11:49 am

    I use a thermos food container, also. Instead of boiling water, I run my Keurig without a coffee pod and let the hot water sit in the thermos 30 min or so before I dump it out and add the hot food.

  • Reply Jessica Kristiansen August 8, 2018 at 11:49 am

    My kids love Babybel cheese and the individual packages of mozz cheese and they are way cheaper at Costco. 🙂

  • Reply Leslee August 8, 2018 at 11:51 am

    My kids all pack their own lunch, but I have it ready on Sunday evening. I assemble sandwiches and baggies of things. Then I have 3 bins in the pantry they can pull from. They grab one sweet item (cookies or moon pie), one salty item (pretzels or crackers), and usually one fruity item (fruit bar or organic roll up). They get a sandwich out of the freezer…throw in lunchbox and done! (Sometimes they take a yogurt, string cheese, or fresh fruit that’s prepared to go from the fridge!). Super easy though! They only take water and I fix them a water bottle of ice water for the day and they use it all day and at lunch!

  • Reply Stephanie Long August 8, 2018 at 11:59 am

    My kids’ favorite lunch items from Costco:
    – Sargento Balanced Breaks – nut, cheese, dried fruit combo packs https://www.sargento.com/our-cheese/balanced-breaks
    – Mini Babybel cheeses
    – Kirkland bag of Dry Roasted Almonds
    – Jumbo bag of Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts
    – Bamboo Lane Crunch Rice Rollers https://www.costcobusinessdelivery.com/Bamboo-Lane-Crunchy-Rice-Roller%2C-3.5-oz%2C-4-ct.product.100148062.html

  • Reply Heather Roecker August 8, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    Good Foods brand mini guacamole cups is a must at Costco! Perfect for our lunches. http://goodfoods.com/products/guacamole/

  • Reply Lindsay @ Lindsay's Sweet World August 8, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    Love this post! I’m going to stalk the comments now for suggestions!

  • Reply Lora LaRosa August 8, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    I have seen those Yumboxes at our LL Bean store. I think you can buy small Yeti containers that will keep things warm.

  • Reply Sheaffer Sims August 8, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    Carter eats the same 3 things for lunch all year long….and eats the same thing for snack almost every day! #creatureofhabit 🙂

  • Reply Amy J August 8, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Do the yumboxes fit in. PB kids lunch box?

    • Reply Mix and Match Mama August 9, 2018 at 8:08 am

      Yes!! It’s a little tight at first, but yes!

  • Reply Carly August 8, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    Some Costco stores have individual hummus and guacamole cups that are perfect for lunches! Also string cheese, their organic nut butters (the best price!), individual trail mix bags, apple sauce, granola and fig bars, yogurt, animal crackers, dried fruit! And so much more, my goodness I could go on and on!

  • Reply Kate August 8, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    you have to keep us posted on how Kensington does packing her own lunch, especially when it is something as complicated as spooning out leftovers into containers. My kids would never attempt that on their own :/

  • Reply Erika Mills August 8, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    For Smith, have you looked at PlanetBox? The largest one holds a ton of food and they’re stainless steel so they last for ever!! We have used just thermos from Target this year for lunch because my oldest loves SOUP or PASTA. Just heat the stuff in the microwave that morning and I make it extra hot. Add very hot tap water, let it sit for a few minutes. Dump water, wipe it out and add the just from reheated leftovers. He says they are always warm at lunch time still (so a good 5 hours) later!

    BUT for Costco….their sangria is so good! lol doesn’t help for lunches but it’s so cheap, we keep some around for summer hang outs!

  • Reply Diana August 8, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    My oldest is starting preschool this year, so I don’t have much experience, thanks for sharing your ideas! Just curious- do you make a different meal each day of the week? Or repeat the same meal a couple of times/week? I feel like I will run out of ideas!

  • Reply Jess August 8, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    From costco, my kids love the Stretch Island Fruit leather and pistachios or nuts. I think my boys agree with Smith that the boxes don’t hold enough food, but sometimes they are racing out the lunch room door so fast to play at recess they hardly eat anything anyway!!

  • Reply JULIE THRAPP August 8, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    We freeze PB&J, PB&honey sands., bagels and cream with or without turkey–we make enough for a month. They keep the lunches cold and are thawed and ready to eat by lunchtime.
    We also freeze cookies and brownies–cut, bag them individually, freeze. Kids can grab a frozen sandwich and treat.
    Roll PB, pieces of banana and chocolate chips in a tortilla–very filling. Sometimes we buy canned chicken, add a little mayo, use to fill tortilla, roll it up, cut into slices.

  • Reply Vicky T August 8, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    My kids used to take leftovers, spaghetti-Os, etc. in these hot food containers from Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/THERMOS-Vacuum-Insulated-Stainless-10-Ounce/dp/B000O3GCFU/ref=sr_1_9?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1533752577&sr=1-9&keywords=hot%2Bfood%2Bcontainer%2Bkids&th=1 Like everyone else, I pour in very hot water in there and let it sit for awhile. Dump out the water and put your hot food in. After closing the container I also wrap the container in a small towel (like a small microfiber one), then rubberband the whole thing. It seems to keep in the warmth in longer. Costco was my go-to for fruit cups, mini hummus/guacamole cups, string cheese, and spinach & cheese ravioli for their lunch bags. I’ve been eyeing this container for my own lunch bag. It’s expensive but a good brand. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009QYC78E/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_4?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1

  • Reply Denise Perich August 8, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Costco expert here (raises hand). Their little Babybel cheeses and string cheeses are awesome. Guac and hummus packs are wonderful too. Apple sauces (the squeeze packs are nice), pudding, sliced fruits, DRIED MANGOS are like crack, individual trail mixes, rice krispy treats, fruit roll ups and snacks, beef jerkey. They even have those ready-made pb&j’s!

  • Reply Emily King August 8, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    We put all of the lunch stuff for a week into baskets in the pantry and in the fridge together on Sundays. Then during the week my kids fill their own lunch boxes from their baskets. If they are in the mood for sandwiches or wraps, we typically make them twice a week together and refrigerate extras. They participate more with the Sunday chore as they get older; we have been doing this since Kindergarten and it works for us! BTW on the hot water in the thermos thing, the easiest way to fill them with hot water (for me) is the Keurig. On Costco: Terra chips, Rhythm Superfoods Carrot Sticks, Grilled Mediterranean-Style Chicken Skewers (I love these on a salad too), pineapple & teriyaki meatballs, hummus singles, Simple Mills Almond Flour crackers, dried cherries, applesauce squeezers, mini cucumbers, and obviously the fruit.

  • Reply Karen August 8, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    Lunch Bots will keep your things hot until lunch. I use them often for my son.

  • Reply Susie Harrold August 8, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    My oldest two used Coleman thermoses all through elem. school. They mostly took soup, chili, and spaghetti. I put the food in piping hot and they said it was warm at lunch. We still have a blue thermos and a green one that work just fine, and our oldest are 26 and 23!!

  • Reply Kassy August 8, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    We use Planetboxes because we wanted to get away from using plastic. Also, search “100 Days of Real Food” for great lunch/meal planning ideas

  • Reply Cara August 8, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    Yumbox came out with a larger size! Just what Smith needs!

  • Reply Ashala J August 8, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    Costco for the win! I second the chicken salad cups, guacamole cups and hummus cups. Flat pretzel crisp things, apple chips, greek yogurt cups, cheese strings, and turkey pepperoni bites. Great idea having the kiddos pack their own.

  • Reply Leah Zanolla August 8, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    If your house is anything like ours, have them make their lunches the night before! The mornings can be way too hectic! We have learned that you can freeze PBJs and they will thaw fine by lunchtime (spread peanut butter on both sides of bread to stop the jelly from getting the bread soggy). Our kids also like to take a bowl of dry cereal and then they’ll buy a carton of milk to pour in.
    They like to do hot lunch sometimes, but the $$ was starting to add up, so we told them we’ll pay for one hot lunch a week (and all the cold lunch supplies) and anything over that, they’re responsible for paying for. But – if they don’t use their hot lunches, they get the money for them! So we put 16 slips of paper (one for each week of the semester) in an envelope for each of them and when they buy a hot lunch, we remove one slip. At the end of the semester, we give them the monetary equivalent of however many slips they have left. It’s a good way to teach them budgeting and give them some control over their lunches!

  • Reply Betsy August 8, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    I used to make my kids pack their own lunch until my first one went to college and I missed him so much, I started packing lunches! Now I’m down to one at home. I second what everyone says about the thermos. I heat stuff up in the morning twice as long as normal and it’s still hot at lunch. She likes mac and cheese, spaghetti and tomato soup in her thermos.

  • Reply Angie August 8, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Oh school lunches! 😩 So some of our tips over the years (I have a 6th grader and 4th grader) – at the beginning of the week, I make sure I have produce all washed and cut/prepped (if necessary). Every day they get a fruit and a veggie, so if these are ready to go, I literally pull them out of the fridge and plop them in their lunch containers (or baggies for my son). My son has taken heated lunches (leftovers, nuggets, or occasionally a hot dog) basically every day since KG. It’s kind of a pain to make every morning, ha! But I put it in a small thermos, and everything is still hot by the time he has lunch at school. I cannot fit his bento box in his lunchbox when we use a thermos, so we have to use baggies for everything else. But having all our apples, grapes, peppers, cucumbers, etc. washed/cut and ready to go beforehand is a huge timesaver. Also, something I discovered the beginning of last year is that many times you can FREEZE SANDWICHES AND WRAPS!!! My daughter still loves PB&J, so I make 5 of those at the beginning of the week and freeze them. Then I just place a frozen sandwich in her bento box, and it is ready to go by lunchtime. (they unfreeze quickly!) I have also done this with wraps, and it works great. What doesn’t freeze well are things like tomatoes and lettuce, but lunchmeat, cheese, hummus, avocado, etc. works great. I do a lot of batching on the weekends. 🙂 The other thing we’ll do occasionally is make a batch of pasta salad – noodles and a bunch of raw cut veggies (peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.) – and use that throughout the week. I make a quick vinagrette that stores in the fridge, and I send them with a small container of dressing to pour on their pasta salad at school. I’m all about batch prepping on the weekend so I can quickly grab and pack lunches during the week!

  • Reply Lizzi Galland August 8, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    I also love Costco roll up sandwiches in the deli section. Because you have a family of 6 you will be able to use that many.
    They have yummy sweet treats as well

  • Reply Lori August 8, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Yumbox makes a bigger one! “Yumbox Tapas” that’s what I pack for my kids because it was getting too small.

  • Reply Nathalie August 8, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    My kids like hot meals, no cold sandwiches for them. I bought this Japanese thermos called Zojirushi. I can put pot stickers, fried rice, any kind of pasta, chicken noodle soup AND it is still hot by the time they open it. Hot as in they have to still blow the soup cause there is still steam coming out of the container. I pack it around 7am and lunch is at 12pm. We had ours for over 6 years and its still going strong!

  • Reply Constance August 8, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Zojirushi has the best containers/thermosts. Food/drinks stay hot even after 48 hours haha

  • Reply Darcy August 8, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    Costco is my FAVORITE place ever!!! My recommendations would be: string cheese, individual Tillamook 1 oz cheddar cheese snack packs, blueberries, individually bagged sliced apples, goldfish crackers, individual guacamole cups, individual chicken salad cups (it is SO good!!!) with a few crackers, individual salads already made (ours stock Caeser and SW Chicken – they even come with a fork), hardboiled and peeled eggs (near the regular eggs), or individual hummus cups. Also, our Costco makes trays of sandwiches and wraps; a tray would be enough to make lunches the entire week for your crew. You could just grab one each day and put it in your lunch box!

  • Reply Margaret August 8, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    OMIE LIFE bento boxes have a compartment that is for hot food and it keeps it warm!! They are the only ones I have ever seen!

    https://www.omielife.com

  • Reply Tracy L August 8, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    My girls really love taking chef salads! And we do thermos’ for leftovers as well.

  • Reply Nancy August 8, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    Hey Shay! Growing up my family would ALWAYS buy literally everything from Costco, and as a former Costco employee I think I can help 🙂
    1. Kirkland Signature Trail Mix (although from the pictures it looks like you may have some already)
    2. Rotisserie Chicken or they even sell rotisserie chicken meat already deboned with no skin so that makes for easy options to toss in salad, make sandwiches with
    3. Snack sized bags of Beef Jerkey
    4. Organic Kirkland signature fruit snacks
    5. Oreos
    6. They have a really good Kirkland Signature mix of pistachios, almonds, etc
    7. Eggs they sell them in huge quantities!
    8. Cereal
    9. Small kids sized Gatorades
    10. Box of petite sized brownie bites
    11. The frozen El Monte chicken taqutios
    12 Ocean Spray Craisins

  • Reply Nancy L August 8, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    costco: trail mix, individual beef jerky packs, box of small brownie bites, kids size Gatorade, Oreos, rotisserie chicken meat that is already deboned and unskinned and cooked, good for tossing in salads, or just anything. Kirkland signature organic fruit snacks. Dried fruit-mangoes, Craisins and El Monte frozen chicken taquitos. Nutella, biscoff cookies and put Nutella on them

  • Reply Kelly August 9, 2018 at 12:34 am

    The Costco Almond Butter is sugar free, super creamy and inexpensive! We also love the wisps cheese snacks (individually bagged) and mini clif bars. Happy shopping!

  • Reply Jean August 9, 2018 at 6:35 am

    I am so jealous you can pack nuts!

    No nuts, imitation nut products, nothing similar (even tahini) at all. So limiting.

    My daughter will ear plain chicken strips that are room temp amd dip them in vinegar and/or ketchup. Weird but she eats it!

    Also broccoli steamed and at room temp is fine to eat.

  • Reply Cate August 9, 2018 at 7:03 am

    Agree, get the 10oz thermos for hot food! Mine loves to take pasta, chili, etc. I used to fill it with hot water while I reheated the food, but found it didn’t seem to make a difference. Now I just warm the food up hotter than I would serve it & pour it in the container. My 9 year old says it’s still warm at lunch 🙂

    Side note – an easy alfredo/cheese pasta that mine loves is noodles mixed with some marscapone cheese. I’ve also mixed in roasted butternut squash, which is a win for mom with the “hidden” vegetable 🙂

  • Reply Samantha Foltz August 9, 2018 at 7:41 am

    You should check out the omiebox for a similar bento style box, but with a thermos section for Smith.

  • Reply Ashley August 9, 2018 at 7:48 am

    We use a thermos for hot food a few times a week. Soups, leftover pasta dishes like spaghetti and rice casserole are some favorites. I followed your lead and started bagging everything up on Sundays and boy what a game changer that was! Then the kids can assembly their lunches each morning instead of me.

  • Reply Sandy Manning August 9, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Because I am so concerned about GMOs and how bad our food supply is getting, I am becoming super picky about what we eat. Here are two crackers/chips I buy at Costco that I really like and feel are at least pretty good/safe to eat. Both items are found in grocery stores, but the price at Costco is incredible. One is Milton’s gluten free baked crackers in a big bag much like the veggie straws (which I know you mentioned already – but such a fantastic price on those!) and Simple Mills almond flour crackers (they carry fine ground sea salt flavor). Both would be perfect in kids’ lunches.
    Nothing to do with Costco but raw nuts would be good in lunches too. I’m not sure if all nuts are prohibited in schools or just peanuts but if they are allowed, it’s a nutritious thing to add. I homeschooled so I’m no pro at school lunches either!

  • Reply Elsjebe August 9, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    Just by chance I saw this YouTube video today about how this mom of 5 have her kids make their own lunches and then how she handles snacks. I thought I had to share it.
    https://youtu.be/olIlbbpSv5I

  • Reply Cameryn August 9, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Our Costco list includes the hard boiled eggs, lunch meat, nuts, granola bars, string cheese. We love Costco…have fun shopping!

  • Reply Catherine August 9, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    We love the organic Wholly Guacamole single-serve packets – Costco sells a box of 20 packets.

  • Reply April Collins August 12, 2018 at 7:22 am

    We do lots of leftovers and kraft macaroni and cheese! I boil water and then put it in a thermos with the lid on for 10 mins, then dump the water and wipe it out, throw the food in there and my kids say it is almost too hot to eat when they get to lunch! I’ve also been in a hurry and forgone the boiling water step and the thermos still keeps it hot enough that it’s warm by lunch!

  • Reply Tracy August 12, 2018 at 8:05 am

    I got a thermos from target that my son said keeps his food warm by lunch time. It was in the lunch box aisle with a Spider-Man on it. There was a girls version. Mostly I put chicken nuggets in it, with a folded paper towel on the bottom to collect moisture. Also have done soup and believe it or not, sometimes he wants oatmeal for lunch

  • Reply Herlives August 14, 2018 at 1:02 am

    Hi, Such great ideas. I am always trying to make something new for my baby lunch item. This time I found your list useful. I am going to add this to my baby lunch item. Hope, so my baby also loves it. Thanks for the sharing such an informative article.

  • Reply Jenn August 14, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    I’ll try to give you some suggestions that have not yet been mentioned. We use the Funtainer Thermos from Target or Amazon and give it hot water before hand as so many others have said. I only leave it in for about 5 min max and I just asked my girls if their food is still warm at lunch and they both shouted, “yes!”. My kiddos love to take oatmeal in the winter, also scrambled eggs or mini pancakes (make or purchase frozen at the grocery store with syrup in the Yumbox snack container with some fruit), pepperoni slices with cheese and crackers, olives (Costco sells sliced or whole in bulk), pre-cooked grilled chicken skewers from Costco (plain or in a salad), Costco chicken flatas wrapped in foil, mini muffins or cornbread mini muffins with pasta, Costco lentil chili in the packets (my daughter won’t eat regular chili but loves this stuff) and last but not least we found this absolutely delicious turkey lunch meat at the Walmart deli this summer. None of my picky family can get enough of it! It is Jenny-O smoked sun dried tomato turkey. The clerk insisted we try it one day. Never would have dreamed any of us would have liked it but we buy it constantly and can’t keep it in the house. It is so good and doesn’t have a strong tomato flavor at all.

    We have a few different sized in the Yumboxes and use them for different types of lunches. This is the largest and holds quite a bit more than the original. We use if for salads, whole sandwiches etc. Enjoy your year!!!
    https://www.amazon.com/YUMBOX-Leakproof-compartment-non-illustrated-Pre-teens/dp/B075SRVWQL/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1534268517&sr=1-2-spons&keywords=Yumbox+tapas&psc=1

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