Tips, tools, resources for lunch packing success, with bento boxes, creativity tools, bags, freezer packs, and more
It's mid-August. Some of our kids are back to school already, and we've hit the ground running.
We have a lot of bento box sets, creativity tools, and lunch-packing stuff in general, as you can imagine—we admit we're a bit spoiled in that department.
Things are always changing on us, however, and now is the best time to take stock.
Got everything you need?
Tips n' Tools For Back-To-School Success
- Pack leftovers right into your bento containers while cleaning up after dinner. Your Box Set doubles as storage, and everything from pizza to hummus will fit in them. Rethink what you've had for dinner in a lunchtime mode: Burritos at suppertime become separate ingredients the next day for taco salad.
- Never underestimate the power of cutting foods into shapes. Sure, it might seem fussy, but if it encourages little kids to eat, so much the better. Check out our creativity tools.
- Pay attention to what they like. If they like Kalamata olives? Into the bento they go. Think simplified salade Niçoise and pack them with tuna salad.
- Get more mileage out of your bentos: Food dividers add an extra level when variety is the goal.
- Blend yogurt smoothies and pop them in the freezer in silicone popsicle molds. Depending on how well packed they are, they may still be half frozen by lunchtime—this awesome tip is via 100 Days of Real Food, as our readers know, we are fans.
- Extra Box Sets fit the bill for teens and kids with greater nutritional needs.
- Avoid single-use packaging and plastics wherever possible. Look for foods that go well in their own containers, like grapes, and eggs, for example, not cheese strings.
- Rethink your treats strategy. If you offer a small treat every day, planning ahead ensures that it's a high-value and low-drag treat, i.e., dark-chocolate covered fruit like raisins or açai berries are preferable to smarties. Shop in bulk at the organic grocers and portion the yummy things out using your smallest lidded container.
- Pack filtered water in reusable bottles and and make sure it's easily contained in lunch bags with bottle holders. Plan ahead for it: staying hydrated is very important. Spoil them and infuse it with fresh fruit!
- Choose your battles: don't pack food they don't like. Pack foods that go well with foods they do like. Keep it as simple as you need to; don't reinvent the wheel every day. Keep some proteins ready to go, with crunchy veggies and cut apples and simply vary it up with leftovers and seasonal foods as the weeks go by.
- Cook food in batches on weekends, pop it in your Prep n' Store set, and they're ready to go during the week. It can be as easy as boiling eggs, and air-cooking a chicken.
- Extra bento sets. We find that having two bento sets per child is a good ratio in our busy household. Things like lids tend to go astray and they are more likely to make their mysterious way back to us in 48 hours, over 24. Knowing your usage patterns and adapting to them will make things less stressful in the long run.
- Stay motivated for the school year ahead and interested in the process by keeping your goals in focus. Remind yourself what's most important to you—your family's health, financial savings, impact on the environment—whatever helps you when motivation wears thin.
- ...and don't forget the sunscreen.
There's never a better time than right now.
Check out our Bentology Resources section for all your special lunch-packing needs!