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As I mentioned in my earlier post ” Time to make the doughnuts …” I shared how packing lunches can sometimes be a chore. I also mentioned that my children suffer from a severe case of food boredom which forces me to keep things fresh and new. One of my secrets to keeping lunches exciting is to mix things up a bit with how I pack the kids’ lunches.
For this post, I am going to show you some of the ways I make their home-packed lunches fun and how, with just a few simple things on hand, lunch packing can actually be a little easier. Here are my top lunch packing essentials.
I regularly use my EasyLunchBoxes and it is usually my go-to container for almost all of my lunches. I love organization and this container never fails when it comes to the perfect sized compartments for nearly every lunch item I pull together. However, there are times when the EasyLunchBox just doesn’t work and when that happens, I reach for my trusty supply of back-up containers.
Here you will see I have containers for nearly everything. It is important to have containers which you use exclusively for your child’s lunch. I find that it not only makes them feel special but also keeps your traditional storage container sets in tact. Over the years we have definitely lost a container or two. I have:
– Hot thermos
– Cold thermos
– Small round container (which is perfect for pasta and mac n’ cheese)
– Square container with small center container (the lime green and baby blue) which I regularly use for veggies and dip, fruit and yogurt dip or hummus and veggies and chips
– Small square container
– Cupcake holder
– Oreo cookie container (which I use for more than just Oreos)
– 2 smaller containers for dips and sauces
2. Other supplies
In addition to the reusable, character-themed lunch bag your child most likely picked out in July, and your containers as outlined above, I also have a stash of other supplies to keep lunches easy and fun. I don’t necessarily purchase these items. Often, I will save these items from times when we eat fast food or take out. These items include:
– Plastic cutlery sets: We order take-out from this awesome little pizza shop in town and they always throw in sets of plastic cutlery. Since we are most often eating at home, I put the plastic cutlery in my lunch supply drawer and use our traditional silverware instead. When I pack a lunch item that requires cutlery (fork, spoon or knife) I reach into my trusty supply drawer and grab a handy little pre-packaged set.
– Reusable cutlery set: I bought this little blue plastic set, which came as service for two, at my local drug-store. Whenever I don’t have a little plastic cutlery set on hand, I throw in the reusable ones. I include these for things like pasta, yogurt, pudding and soups and like my reusable containers, they most often make it back home in the lunch bag.
– Fun plastic baggies: I love these little bags and also regularly have a cute, little stash on hand for items such as pretzels, crackers and chips. I usually have both the sandwich size and snack size on hand. I happened to find these goofy-face bags at my local Target in the $1 section. They came in packs of 20 and when I found them Target was doing their $1 clearance sale so I actually scored these for 50 cents! I have also purchased character-themed bags (Cars and Toy Story) at stores like the Christmas Tree Shoppe or Five Below.
– Colored straws: We love straws in my house and lunch is no different. I will include these bright-colored straws with little smoothies and bottled waters.
– Fun Napkins: For my kids’ lunches and snacks the school requests that I pack a napkin. I make a point of picking up holiday/seasonal-themed napkins regularly or even character-themed napkins from the party store and throw them in the lunch bag. Just recently, a local party store in my town was having their annual clearance event and I was scoring IronMan, Cars and Transformer napkins for 25-50 cents a pack. I also find cute napkins at the $1 store. It’s a nice little surprise for my boys and to be honest with you, I think the party napkins hold up way better than traditional napkins and my boys can sometimes be messy eaters.
– Condiments: Yes, that is a Chick-fil-A sauce pack. We love Chick-fil-A and especially their Chick-fil-A sauce. When we eat there, they always give us way more sauce than we need for our meal. Instead of throwing them out, which to me is a total waste, I bring them home with me and place them in my lunch-packing supply drawer. I do the same for ketchups, mustards and jelly. Now, you can even purchase the Heinz dipping tubs, as pictured, at your local grocery store.
These little condiment packets are perfect for the times that I pack chicken nuggets, pretzels or crackers (the jelly) in my boys’ lunches. I don’t have to worry about them not eating their nuggets because they don’t have a dip (my kids love to dip!) because they have everything they need right there in their lunch courtesy of these condiment packs. I know I sound like an old lady hoarding sugar packets but if they give me way too many condiments when I order my meal, I am going to make sure they get used somehow. I hate waste.
By now you are probably thinking I am some type of nut who hoards containers and condiments in my kitchen.
Another item that I always have on hand for my kids’ lunches is stickers.
I use stickers for sandwich bags, if by chance I happen to not have “fun” baggies on hand. I also use stickers on brown bags (for my son’s kindergarten snack) and I also use them to decorate my kids’ juice boxes. Again, I pick them up whenever I see them on clearance or at the $1 store. I have character stickers, holiday stickers, learning stickers and positive reinforcement stickers. Plus, my kids really like stickers and use them to decorate their coloring pages so they are dual-purpose.
So, there you have it. This is my little list of lunch packing essentials and this also concludes my back-to-school posts for this year. I hope you enjoyed them. Have a fabulous school year and keep lunches FUN!
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