Next month, I will start my 15th year as a teacher, but this will be my first time as the mom of a kindergartner. My husband and I have decided that our daughter will be bringing her lunch to school every day. Being a mom and a teacher, I spent a ridiculous amount of time deciding what lunch box and accessories she needed. Why did I spend so long on this? For years, I have done lunch duty with students of all ages. I have seen every possible problem students have while eating lunch at school. So without further ado, here are my top tips for successfully packing school lunch
1. Buy a well made insulated lunch box.
You do not need to buy the most expensive lunch box, but you definitely need one that can take a beating for at least 9 months.
Ask yourself these questions.
Does the lunch box have a good zipper?
Is it easy for your child to open and close?
Will it hold its shape if it is thrown around?
Will it get dirty easily? Darker colors are better because they get gross fast!
Can it handle spills without falling apart?
Will it help keep items cool?
2. Think about the size and shape of the lunch box
How well can the lunch box hold items?
Will your child have to dig around to get to their food?
Will it fit in their backpack well?
Does it get in their way when they eat because when they are at crowded table?
I purchased a rectangular shaped lunch box from Pottery Barn for my daughter. I felt it would be easiest for her to open up and eat out of, if table space is limited and it usually is!
3. Use Good Food Storage Containers
Don’t use containers that you won’t last or that your child cannot open. They may not always ask an adult for help if they have a problem.
Do the containers meet the following criteria?
Can the containers be opened easily by my child?
Will the containers keep food hot or cold if necessary?
Do the containers fit in the lunch box I picked?
Will the containers last through multiple washings?
Will the containers allow me to pack multiple items?
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Here is my favorite hot/cold lunch container.
Here is my favorite divided lunch container.
4. Make Lunch Easy to Eat
When you pack lunch for your child, please be sure it is not complicated. Send food that your child can easily finish eating in a set amount of time. These days, most kids have to eat lunch in about 20 minutes. If you send a 7 course meal or items that have to be put together they may run out of time.
5. Send Items Your Child Can Actually Open
This is a big one and a source of frustration to many teachers doing duty in the lunchroom. Please make sure that your child can open the items that you send. If you are not sure if your child can open an item, then have them try to open it in front of you.
Some items that children have trouble opening are:
Have you tried opening one of these? They are impossible! Even better, try opening one without spilling the juice all over. My advice is put it into an easier to open container before sending it to school.
Juice in Pouches
Even adults struggle opening these, why would you make your kid struggle? Nice square juice boxes are so much better! The kids can actually get the straw in them.
Please peel them in advance if you can for little ones!
Pre-Sealed Water Bottles
It really depends on the manufacturer, but some of these are really tough to open.
Half the time when kids pull the tab at the top they rip it in such a way that no yogurt comes out. Then they have to wait for adult to come around with scissors.
Every minute your child spends waiting for an adult to come open their food is a minute they lose of eating!
School and lunch time can be stressful enough, so why not make life just a little easier for our little ones!
If you are looking for great ideas for packed lunches, check out these links!