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Make It Easy for Your Kids to Pack a Healthy Lunchbox

Packing school lunches doesn’t have to be painful. This method is so simple that your kids will be packing their own lunches in no time!

How to pack healthy school lunches: easy ideas that will keep your kids happy and healthy all year long.

In high school, one of my chores was to pack six lunches – for myself, my dad, and my siblings. I packed nearly the same thing every day. I was fine with the food I packed, and I figured anybody who didn’t like it could pack their own lunch.

When my own children started school, my standards were higher. I wanted my kids to eat healthy, varied diets. School lunches also needed to be something that my children liked well enough to eat during their short lunch break. Several of my childhood favorites were out because I couldn’t use nuts in my kids’ lunches due to classmates with severe nut allergies.

Thankfully, this year I have found a solution that works for our family! I don’t stress out about packing lunches, because my kids pack their own lunches! Best of all, the kids bring home empty lunch boxes every afternoon.

Healthy School Lunches Your Kids Can Pack!

Here are some easy ways to pack healthy school lunches for your child. Actually, these ideas are so simple that your children will be able to pack their own school lunches!

Struggling to Get Kids to EAT Their Lunch

One of my biggest struggles with school lunches was that I would pack something healthy but my kids would bring home a full lunchbox. As I brainstormed ways to get them to eat, I realized that they eat more at home when their food is served on partitioned plates. I tried a few different Bento-style lunchboxes, but we kept having trouble with foods shifting compartments or even leaking.

Yumbox to the Rescue


I spent all of last year admiring Yumboxes before investing in them for my four children this fall. This leak-proof bento style system has transformed my life! My kids ADORE compartmentalized lunches, and the different sections remind my kids to include all of the food groups in each lunch. I also like the zero waste design – no wrappers to throw away. We use these ice packs to keep their lunches nice and cool.

Sometimes, especially in winter, my kids want to bring warm leftovers for lunch. We discovered that, if we let boiling water sit in Thermos Funtainers for a minute or so before filling them with hot food, the food is still very warm at lunch time.

Running Out of Ideas? Make a Healthy School Lunches Idea List!

We found the perfect lunchbox. Now, I needed a lunch-packing system.

I created this healthy school lunch ideas reference list with foods I know my kids like and will eat. This way, if the kids can’t think of what to pack, they look at the list.

I even turned it into a school lunch ideas printable so that you can use it for your own school lunches. You can click the image below to download the PDF to print off for your own kids to use.

Printable with easy school lunch ideas your kids will love.

The Yumbox has a section for each of these food groups. Each morning, my kids choose something from each column and add it to their lunchbox.

Everyone Makes Their Own Lunch

The beauty of this system is that it is simple enough for all of my school-aged children to pack their own lunches. Three-year-old Anna often needs help, but she can pack at least part of her lunch on her own.

Why you should also pack a lunch for younger at-home siblings

I bought a Yumbox for three-year-old Anna mainly because I knew she would feel left out otherwise, but it has proven incredibly helpful! Anna gets a packed lunch just like my school-aged kids in the morning.

Anna’s packed lunch earns me some free time in the middle of the day while she eats. I usually eat dinner leftovers, but Anna LOVES her Yumbox lunches!

Have fun!

The internet and your local bookstores are treasure troves if you are looking for cute lunch ideas! Everyday Bento: 50 Cute and Yummy Lunches to Go is my kids’ favorite!

Do you have lunch-making secrets to share? How about nut-free and gluten-free foods that I should add to my list? Share your idea on my Facebook Page, or tag me on Instagram!

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

10 thoughts on “Make It Easy for Your Kids to Pack a Healthy Lunchbox”

    1. Nugo Dark Mint bars are our favorites. They are definitely sweet, so you have to take that into consideration. They remind me of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, but I feel better eating these than I would those. They have 10g of protein without tasting super protein-y and they keep well. I will divide one bar into four pieces to put in the kids’ lunches, and I also try to keep them as emergency rations for when we are out and having trouble finding something gluten free to eat.

      1. Elisa | blissful E

        Yum! I need to find something like that around here.

        Another idea for your list is mini-quiches, if your kids like those. You can make them up crustless so they are gluten-free. They travel well, in my experience.

  1. I always love the look of Bento style lunchboxes. I bought one at our local grocery store for field trips and such, but I’m not absolutely in love with it. My kids keep trying to bring liquids and it leaks….

  2. These boxes look great. This year A insists on store bought lunches most of the days. On one hand, I really don’t like to contribute to packaging waste, but I admit that it’s easier for us to buy those lunchables and save arguments and wasted food.

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