Back to School Lunch Essentials List

Packing epic school lunches starts with easy and fun recipes AND the right lunch box containers! In today’s post, I share with you the essentials for packing a healthy lunch.

Lunchbox Essentials

With so many lunch containers, lunch bags, and other supplies out there, it’ hard to know which ones will suit your lunch packing needs for the rest of the year. Will the container leak? Will it last the entire school year? Is it bulky? Will my child be able to open it? All real questions to ask.

In this post, I hope to show you which lunch containers have worked best for my family and thousands of families in the MOMables community for the last 8 years. This list is updated so these are our new favorites from this year as well.

First day of school

Packing school lunches is a smart way to make sure your child gets the right balance of healthy, nutritional, and yummy foods. Having the right supplies will not only keep the lunches fresher but allow more room for creativity, so you don’t get into a lunch packing rut!

Here are a few of my all-time favorite lunch supplies that my family and our members love:

Lunch Bag

One of the most important assets of packed lunches, at least for kids. While the pretty printed lunch bags may look nice, you’ll want to make sure they are durable and keep the food properly insulated!

An affordable option is the Easy Lunchbags since they carry everything flat and the food won’t’ get shaken. It’s big enough to pack a lunch container, a snack box, an ice pack, and a drink.

If you live in the southern areas and heat is a concern, hands down the best, insulated lunch bag I’ve tried is the Arctic Zone expandable bag. I’ve bought 3 this year for my kids and I’ll probably never look back. It’s extremely insulated and it comes with built-in ice pack compartments.

Lunch Containers

Easylunchboxes are one of my favorite containers to use for packing everything from sandwiches to pasta salads and bentos!

They are BPA, lead, vinyl, and PVC free and their compartmentalized design is great for packing several ingredients like crackers and fruit into separate areas of one container without the crackers getting soggy.

For a leak-proof option check out Yumbox. The trays are removable and the compartments are sealed with the single lid.

If stainless steel is what you’re looking for check out Lunchbots. They offer a variety of divided stainless containers and are very durable.

If you want an all-in-one option for hot and cold foods, check out the Omie Box. it’s the only lunch container with a built-in thermos that you can quickly remove on days you don’t need it.

Thermos Containers

If you want to send hot lunches like soup, last night’s pasta, and stir-frys, then a thermos is the way to go. Plus, they play double duty because a thermos is not just for hot foods! They also keep cold items cold for longer, so it’s the perfect vessel to send a yogurt or a smoothie for lunch!

First Thermos:
For younger kids, the THERMOS FOOGO is great because of their rubberized lids make it super easy to open.

The Thermos Funtainer and UKonserve containers are both terrific options for kids. Both the Thermos brand and UKonserve are vacuum sealed and keep your food hot for up to 5 hours or cold for up to 7 hours.

Check out this video for the complete guide to our all-time favorite thermos containers.

Reusable Snack Bags

With these bags, you can pack sandwiches and snacks while cutting down on plastic bags! All you have to do is wash them with warm water and soap when done, and they are ready!

Reusable Utensils

Once again, these utensils will cut down on waste from plastic and much more school-proof than regular silverware.

Water Bottles

Refillable water bottles are great for making sure your child drinks enough water throughout the day without wasting plastic bottles. These THERMOS bottles will keep the water fresh, and they comfortably fit in a lunch bag or backpack pouch.

Ice packs

These are a little obvious, but I have to make sure and add them in since they come in handy for keeping packed lunches fresh for hours.

Killer-licious Lunch Ideas

Of course, we couldn’t leave out the MOMables lunch plans! What good are any of these items if you don’t have an excellent lunch to pack? Plus, we do all the hard work for you with five yummy lunch recipes, prep tips, and a complete shopping list! Talk about #winning!

Okay, the next item isn’t technically essentials, but I’ve found them all to be extremely helpful when packing lunches and they do allow more room for creativity!

Sauce Containers

Easy Lunchboxes makes a mini dipper container, and they are so helpful for when you want to keep sauces and salad dressing separate from the rest of the lunch.

If it seems like too much, start with purchasing the items you find to be necessary and build your stash as you go.

What are your must-haves when packing lunches for your kids? 

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About MOMables - Laura

Mom to 3 kids, obsessed with coffee, meal planning, and helping you cook fresh meals for your family fast!