Noah and Will are refusing to acknowledge that the start of school is just around the corner. They groan and get horrified looks on their faces whenever that "s" word is mentioned near them. If I'm honest, I'll tell you that my own reaction is much the same! The boys are dreading the end of their long days of summer freedom; I'm dreading the task of packing school lunches every night once again! I'm sure many other parents share my feelings about that particular task.
Every year as the boys grow older, I have them become more and more involved in the packing of their own lunches for school. Having a good set of sturdy containers to pack lunches and snacks in, each with its own lid colour and purpose, makes it easy for Noah and Will to remember to include a balanced variety of good-for-them foods in their lunches each day.
I first discovered LunchBots stainless steel food containers three years ago, when I went searching for an environmentally-friendly and durable alternative to plastic containers for all of our lunches. We have been using the same set of LunchBots daily since then, and we love how well they work for our family. The containers are strong, easy to pack and clean, have lids that are easy for kids to open and yet still stay on snugly, and they stack nicely in our lunch bags. The boys have three containers each -- a single compartment one for a sandwich or other main lunch dish, a divided one for fruits and veggies, and another divided one for snacks -- and these hold the perfect amount of food for them for a school day. I love that they don't contain any worrisome chemicals, and that the boys are able to use the same containers year after year without me needing to replace them (even though as busy boys, they're quite hard on their belongings!)
LunchBots has continued to add to their product line over the years, and they now make leak-proof lunch containers, small condiment containers that are perfect for dips and such, insulated containers for transporting hot foods, and even lunch bags. We have added some of these products to our family's collection and have found all of them to be very useful and of excellent quality.
I am so pleased with these products that I have decided to become a LunchBots affiliate and promote them here. You will notice a new badge in my sidebar; if you're interested in purchasing some of these containers for yourself, you can easily check out the full line of LunchBots products and place an order by clicking on the badge. (I will receive a commission for each sale I refer.) Shipping is free in the U.S. (there is a flat shipping rate of $9.99 to Canada), and any time I've ordered from LunchBots I've received my order very quickly. I think you'll find these containers to be as wonderful as we have!
The question of what to pack in kids' school lunch containers is one that seems to come up in discussion among parents every fall -- everyone is always looking for new ideas! At our house we like to avoid heavily processed foods, and so we most often use leftovers from dinner as the basis for the next day's lunch. Grilling, baking, or roasting extra chicken breasts or thighs or drumsticks, turkey, steak, homemade lean beef burgers, etc. one night makes it easy to put together a healthy noon meal for tomorrow. The boys like thinly sliced steak or chicken or turkey sandwiches, chicken drumsticks with a small whole grain roll, quesadillas made with a whole grain tortilla, salsa, finely chopped cooked chicken breast, and a sprinkling of cheese (or Daiya for Will) and then baked in the oven, cooled, and cut into triangles, or cold burgers on a bun (all packed with an assortment of raw veggies and some fruit, and a bottle of water). They also eat tuna or salmon sandwiches, and Noah eats hard boiled eggs, while Will likes natural Sunbutter and fruit juice sweetened jam sandwiches. If my boys were more adventurous with food, I could also send them soups like this one or this one, or stew, or chili, packed in a thermal container, or a serving of lentil, quinoa, or bean salad. Some day, I hope they'll learn to love these foods, too!
For the boys' snacks, I like them to pack various homemade healthy baked goods like granola bars, muffins, or nutritious cookies, along with fresh fruit and veggies. If you're looking for some ideas for wholesome snacks for your family, you may find something you like in this school snack round-up, which I've recently updated with more recipe links.
The boys and I are going to enjoy these last school-free, lunch-packing-free days of summer while we can. But when the time soon comes for us all to return to routine, at least we're well-prepared with the containers and recipes we need to eat well all year long. I hope some of the information here will be useful to your family as you get ready for a new school year, too. :)