Back to School: Packing Lunches With Stonyfield, Justin’s, and PackIt

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It’s back-to-school time! Which means it’s time to pack lunches again. Unless, like us, you’ve needed to pack lunches for camp or outings for most of the summer. I’m kind of a professional lunch packer at this point.

It still seems daunting, though. I don’t know why. And last year the second grader was packing his own lunches. Why did this stop when he started camp this summer? I don’t know. I think both kids will be packing their own lunches this year, with my support.

And it’s not just knowing what to pack — how many snacks, who’s eating what this week (turkey? salami? hummus and cucumber? leftovers?) but who can eat what. Like when a particular upcoming first grader has a wiggly tooth, so you have to slice up his apple before you pack it because otherwise he can’t bite it.

But if you have the supplies and a formula, lunch-packing doesn’t have to be a drag.

Here are some key tips for packing a lunch:

Food Containers
We use reusable containers for snacks and lunches. For the main lunch, we use EasyLunchboxes three-compartment lunch boxes, with snacks in other small reusable containers. Yes, I wash a lot of containers, but I’m OK with that.

Lunch Bag
A sturdy, reusable lunch bag can last for the whole school year and sometimes for a few years! PackIt makes a great freezable lunch bag which contains a freezable gel. Just put it in the freezer overnight, then in the morning pack your child’s lunch in it. The lunch bag will keep the food cold for hours.img_9328.jpg

Lunch Food
Sandwiches are popular with my kids:

  • salami
  • PBJ
  • hummus and cucumber

Sandwich alternatives:

  • mac&cheese in an insulated food jar
  • leftover pasta with pesto
  • hummus, veggies, and crackers
  • cheese and crackers

I also pack veggies and fruit in the other compartments of the bento box.

Snacks
Besides the “main course,” I include:

  • fruit — berries, a sliced or whole apple, cut-up oranges, grapes
  • veggies — baby or big carrots, grape tomatoes, sliced cucumber
  • something crunchy/salty, such as pretzels
  • Stonyfield YoKids Squeezers (these are great to keep in the freezer)
  • a granola bar (in case an extra snack is needed)img_9329.jpg
  • Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter and Pretzels snack packsimg_9334-1.jpg
  • maybe a packet of Justin’s Honey Almond Butter (who am I kidding, these are for me! Great pre-run fuel and a handy afternoon snack at my desk)img_9338.jpg

Drinks
A reusable water bottle. That’s all I send my kids with. But you could also include a juice box or milk.

By the way, could you sense a theme here? Reusable containers, few processed foods, and products from companies like Justin’s and Stonyfield that make sustainable practices their mission? I like supporting companies that have values similar to mine.

Oh — not that I’m telling you what to do, but because these tips can help you save time packing lunches — if you have some extra time, check out the recipes on the Justin’s site! I want to try the spicy peanut soba noodles and the granola bars, for starters.

Happy school year, and enjoy packing healthy lunches!

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