For most of 12 years, I ate the same thing every day for lunch, packed in the same reused paper bags and the same square Tupperware: peanut butter on wheat bread, with a small carton of milk and a small snack. Some days there was deli meat or cheese on the wheat bread instead, but mostly just peanut butter. It’s no wonder that even though I still like peanut butter, and I enjoy a peanut butter sandwich every time I make one, it still has a dreary connotation for me. And my lunch was still better than some of the hideous slop the kids who bought lunch at school were eating! (Canned corn floating in gray water, anyone?)
It’s a whole new world of lunching today, between better gear, greater awareness of health, and creative parents sharing their ideas online. So today, I’m going to do a quick run-through of some of our lunch gear, accompanied by some easy recipes that kids will actually want to eat.
Packit Personal Lunch Cooler, $19.99
Once upon a time, sending a Thermos of milk, a cup of yogurt, or a tuna-fish sandwich to work was a questionable business. Now, with the eco-gel lining of the Packit, your food stays cold for over 10 hours. So, anything that needs to be cold will stay cold. Pack it up!
Food suggestion: Frozen Fruit Cups
These mini-treats will remain pleasantly slushy in your Packit. Since fruit magically is transformed into dessert when it is frozen (see also: fruit popsicles), this turns a snack that might ordinarily be regarded as a chore into a treat.
Skip Hop Bento Mealtime Kit, $24.99
The CLIX mini-containers keep food items separate, so this is a great set for items that need to stay separate, and the nice secure tops will keep liquids safely contained (even if it doesn’t, the inside wipes clean nicely). Plus, the insulated cooler bag comes with two full sets of containers, so you can pack two days of lunch at once.
Food suggestion: Hummus Pizza
This one is more fun (and the pita gets less soggy) if it’s assembled on the spot, and with this kit, you can pack the hummus, veggies, and pita separately.
Skip Hop Zoo Stainless Steel Food Jar, $17.99
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold with this cute retro food container, sized just right for preschool portions! It’s made with no BPA, phthalates, or PVC, and comes with its own matching spork.
Food suggestion: Chicken Noodle Soup with Spinach
Simple to make, yummy to eat – and it’s an easy way to sneak in vitamin-packed spinach in a way that won’t have your child making faces.
Skip Hop Zoo Lunch Kit, $9.99
You take the little container, and you stick it in the big container, and then you stick it in your Zoo Lunchies lunchbox, and you’ve got the cutest lunch ever! These two containers also seal nicely with clips that are designed for small hands to operate, which your day care will appreciate, and your kid will appreciate too (they like being able to do it themselves!).
Food suggestion: Roasted Veggie and Cheese Sandwich with Marinara
Ok, this may be a little better-suited for older kids with more coordination for dipping, but the small container is perfectly marinara-sized, and just looking at the pictures in this recipe is making me hungry. I think I’m going to make this for my own lunch tomorrow.
Spbang Reusable Snack Bag, $12.99
Environmentally-friendly, free of yucky chemicals, sturdy, and endlessly reusable? Sign us up! Great for sandwiches, cut-up fruits and veggies, crackers, etc. Best of all, Spbang bags are super-easy to clean as long as you have a dishwasher.
Food suggestion: Cinnamon Sugar Apples
Somehow just the addition of a little bit of cinnamon and sugar kicks up regular old apple slices to the next level – and they get better if they sit around for a little longer. Om nom nom!
Some more lunch gear to check out:
- Itzy Ritzy Reusable Snack Bags, $9.99
- Bixbee Sparkalicious Kids’ Lunch Boxes, $19.99
- Skip Hop Forget Me Not Kids’ Backpack Sets, $39.99
Some more of my favorite kid-friendly lunch recipes I dug up today: