Simple and Fun Ideas for Packing Lunch

Great tips and recipes for packing hassle-free, budget-friendly, tasty, and all-around fun meals your kids will want to eat.

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Pack Like a Pro

Photograph by Jeff Harris

Pack Like a Pro

A cool kid lunch starts with how it's packaged. Use the recipes and pointers below to bag a meal that's both tempting to the eye and pleasing to the palate.

Cherry Chia Bites (see green baking cup at center)

Chunks of chocolate and dried cherries give these energy bites a sweet flavor that's hard to resist, while chia seeds supply fiber and a pleasing crunch. Get the recipe below.

Cheesy Garlic Chickpeas (see purple snack tube at right)

Round out a balanced meal with a delicious munchie, such as these roasted chickpeas, inspired by Parmesan garlic bread. Get the recipe below.

So Long, Soggy Sandwiches

Nobody wants to eat a mushy meal. Here's how to keep sandwich bread from getting sodden:
1. Toast it.
2. Use a paper towel to pat dry moist ingredients like tomatoes and deli meat.
3. Pack sandwich ingredients separately.

Happy Face Wrapper (see bottom left)

For our easy-to-clean, reusable wrap, trim away the seams of a 12.8-ounce or larger clear cereal bag (from a cereal box) so that it lies flat. Wipe off residue with a damp dishcloth. Trace a 10-inch circle onto the bag (we used a dinner plate) and cut it out. Attach a clear, adhesive-backed Velcro coin, adhering one half to the top of the circle and the other to the underside. To use the wrap, center a sandwich in the circle, fold in the left and right edges, then fold over the top and bottom edges, securing them with the Velcro closure. Use round office labels (trim them into shapes as needed) to attach a face.

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Say Yes to Hot Lunches

Photograph by Jeff Harris

Say Yes to Hot Lunches

A thermos full of still-warm soup, mac-and-cheese, or roasted veggies is like a toasty blanket on a chilly autumn afternoon. With the right tools and (easy!) tricks, you can pack a hot lunch in no time.

Hot Idea
Prime your thermos by filling it with boiling water, twisting on the lid, and letting it sit for 5 to 10 minutes before emptying it and filling it with food.

Tomato Ravioli Soup (see top right)
Dress up a classic comfort food with mini cheese pasta for a make-ahead meal with kid appeal. Get the recipe below.

Ecofriendly Eating
Inexpensive silverware from tag sales offers a green alternative to disposable plastic.

Veggie Nuggets (see bottom right)
Offering the flavors of falafel, these dunkable mini fritters are delicious hot or at room temperature. Get the recipe below.

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Have Fun with Shapes

Photograph by Jeff Harris

Have Fun with Shapes

Want to entice your child to try new foods or keep her excited about familiar ones? Take her lunch to new dimensions with interesting forms and figures.

Stay Cool (see left side of container)
Tuck in a few frozen reusable ice cubes to keep cold items chilled and to help maintain their shape.

Food Cutter Cuteness (see top)
Use mini or sandwich food cutters to transform everything from cheese to cucumber slices into geometric shapes, puzzle pieces, animals, and more.

Fruit Sushi (see right)
Formed in an ice cube tray, these slightly sweet, molded treats combine fresh fruit, rice, and cream cheese. Get the recipe below.

Taco Pinwheels (see bottom)
Beans and guac take a spin inside a soft tortilla in this tempting south-of-the-border sandwich. Get the recipe below.

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Make Them Laugh

Photograph by Jeff Harris

Make Them Laugh

Bring some unexpected fun to the middle of your child's day with one of the best ingredients you can bag up: a bit of whimsy.

All Jokes Inside (see top)
Guarantee a happy meal by slipping a silly joke in your child's lunch box. Download our page of giggle-getters below.

One-Color Lunch
Pack a meal themed around your child's favorite hue. Bonus: it might get you thinking more creatively about what you can include.

Curried Chicken Salad Wraps (see left side of container)
Green up a lunch with a lettuce wrap. We love this chicken salad version that features golden raisins for a touch of sweetness and curry paste for a hint of spice. Get the recipe below.

Delicious Dipping (see right)
Keep a color theme going with a condiment container filled with a sauce or dressing in your chosen tint.