The No-Fail Guide to Packing Kids’ Lunches

Here's how to easily and efficiently pack a meal that stays safe, un-squished, and delicious all the way through lunchtime.

View as Slideshow

1. Get your go-to gear ready

1. Get your go-to gear ready
Tired of going through countless brown paper lunch bags and plastic sandwich bags? Stock up on some (kid-approved, of course) lunchboxes that will take your family straight through the school year. Soft-sided, insulated lunchboxes are the norm these days. And food can go into lidded plastic storage containers. Look for ones divided into several individual compartments, or for bento boxes with removable, interlocking pieces.

Source: The Toy Report

2. Or get smart about brown bagging

2. Or get smart about brown bagging
For older kids who are averse to carrying lunchboxes, double-bag their regular brown paper lunch bags for added insulation and strength. The perfect ice pack for this scenario? Just wet a few paper towels, fold them and place inside a resealable sandwich bag. Freeze overnight and place in the lunch bag in the morning.

Source:
SheKnows Chef Mom

3. Time it right

3. Time it right
It’s nearly unanimous: Parents say packing lunches at night is key to getting everyone out the door on time on busy mornings. 

Tip: Make lunches while you’re already making dinner, or right after dinner but before you do the dishes; the kitchen counter is already messy, some of the items you’ll use might already be out, and all the cutting boards and utensils can go straight into the dishwasher with the dinner dishes. 

Content continues below ad

4. Prep once, eat often

4. Prep once, eat often
Have a PB and J lover (or two) on your hands? Make a whole loaf or two of sandwiches and refrigerate or freeze them individually. To keep them from getting soggy, spread peanut butter all the way to the edges and limit jelly to the center area. When it’s time to pack lunches, just grab a sandwich and add a piece of fruit, some pretzels and a yogurt – done! 

Tip: Wrap sandwiches in moist paper towels before refrigerating them to prevent the bread from drying out. 

5. Pay attention to temperature

5. Pay attention to temperature
When it comes to food safety, the cooler (or hotter) a food starts out, the better. For example, store sandwiches in the refrigerator until right before it’s time to leave for school, and heat up soup as much as possible before pouring it into the thermos and sending your kid out the door. 

Source: Woman's Day

6. Freeze the drinks

6. Freeze the drinks
Store juice boxes in the freezer. They’ll keep a lunch bag cool, and they’ll thaw and be ready to drink by lunchtime. This trick will work with water bottles as well, or juice poured into an empty plastic bottle; just make sure the bottles aren't filled completely, so there's room for expansion when the liquid freezes. 

Content continues below ad

7. Use innovative coolers

7. Use innovative coolers
To keep lunches cool you can add a traditional ice pack, or simply freeze items like puddings, yogurts, or smoothies the night before and add them to lunchboxes in the morning. These turn into cold, ice cream-like treats your child can tuck into when lunchtime rolls around. Tip: Wrap these frozen containers (as well as any frozen drinks) with a paper towel to keep the condensation off of other food items. Your little one can then use the moist paper towel to wipe their sticky fingers after lunch. Source: Family Fresh Cooking

8. Keep hot foods hot

8. Keep hot foods hot
Not all kids like sandwiches. If you have a soup or pasta fan on your hands, invest in a short, wide-mouthed insulated thermos. These come in kid-friendly designs and will safely store hot foods (like beans and rice, or mac and cheese) for up to six hours. Tip: Keep your thermos hotter by filling it with hot water and emptying it just before adding the (steaming hot) food. Source: Good Housekeeping

9. Protect fragile fruit

9. Protect fragile fruit
Some whole fruits are more durable (apples, bananas) but others are prone to piercing, bruising, or even smashing when jostled – not the most appetizing outcome for picky kids. To pack delicate, juicy fruits like pears, peaches, or nectarines, wrap a paper towel around the fruit before bundling it into your child’s lunch bag. Bonus: The paper towel doubles as a napkin. Source: eHow

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you the newsletter each week, and we may also send you occasional special offers from Reader's Digest. For more information please read our privacy policy.

Funny Jokes

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

Funny Jokes

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

Funny Jokes

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram

@kristencarney

Funny Jokes

A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.

@sixthformpoet

Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.

From clientsfromhell.net

Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”

@NicCageMatch

Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 
—Alcohol

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.