Demystifying the Packed Lunch with Joyce Wilson

Packing a Lunch? How to Hack the Lunch-Packing Challenge for Back-to-School

It’s time to start thinking about back-to-school, and among the many things you’re worried about getting ready and organized, your kids have decided that they want to pack their lunch this year. While you know that packing a lunch means you’ll have more control over the nutrients your children will get during lunchtime, you dread the prepping and packing process, which will add more demands to your already-crunched mornings. These lunch-packing hacks will help you eliminate the stress and streamline the process of making sure your kids walk in the door with a healthy meal for lunch time.

Offer Healthy Choices with Bins

Image via Pixabay by jelly

Image via Pixabay by jelly

If you have picky eaters, packing a lunch with foods your child will actually eat but are also appropriate for school, rather than the pixie sticks and candy bars your kids would prefer, is an ongoing battle. You’re probably exhausted just thinking about it. But a little extra prep work now can save you hours of time this school year when you use the bin strategy for packing lunches.

The great thing about the bin tactic is that your kids are making their own choices, so they’re more likely to eat their lunch. Here’s how to do it: Create bins for fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses, breads and carbs (whole wheat crackers, granola bars, etc.), snacks and desserts (cookies, chips, etc.), and drinks. Package up options for each category using Ziploc bags, small containers, or other supplies. With the prep work done, your kids can quickly pack their own lunch each day by selecting one item from each bin. Restock the bins weekly or as-needed, and your work is done.

Pack a Toothbrush and Floss Pick

Dental hygiene is an important habit to cultivate when kids are young, but it’s nearly impossible to make sure your kids brush their teeth after lunch at school. One thing that might help is having your kids pick out their own toothbrush for school. Choosing a fun, favorite color or a favorite character will, hopefully, make your kids more excited to take care of their teeth. Floss picks come in kid-friendly sizes and colors and are easy to toss in a lunch box. Plus, they’re disposable, so there’s no need to carry them back and forth. If brushing their teeth after lunch isn’t feasible, you can also encourage them to make a pit stop at the water fountain and swish some water around in their mouths to rinse debris away that may be stuck between their teeth.

Use Creative Containers to Organize Lunches Efficiently

There are all kinds of cute and unique containers for packing lunches and just about anything else you can imagine these days. Take advantage of these innovative options to pack a healthy lunch for your children in a way that won’t lead to a mess before lunch time. Thanks to squeezable apple sauce and yogurt packs, some healthier options now don’t even require a spoon and can be eaten on the go.

With divided containers, you can pack fruits, vegetables, sandwiches, and more in a single container that’s easy to carry and won’t leave you with dozens of dishes to wash each evening. Plus, if your child is one that hates to have their foods touching one another, these containers are a dream come true.

Packing a lunch is often preferred by parents today simply because they have more control over what their kids are putting into their mouths (and thus feeding their bodies). Food allergies often mandate that parents pack lunches for their kids to avoid any potential for cross-contamination or other dangers. Fortunately, packing your child’s lunch doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence this school year. Take advantage of tried-and-true lunch-packing hacks to make the job less stressful.


Joyce Wilson is a retired teacher with decades of experience. Today, she is a proud grandmom and mentor to teachers in her local public school system. She and a fellow retired teacher created TeacherSpark.org to share creative ideas and practical resources for the classroom.