Are there any parents who really enjoy packing their kids’ school or daycare lunches? Most parents I talk to admit that the daily grind of packing their kid’s lunches is one of the things they dread most about school starting back up. When Solomon and Celia were in elementary school, I assumed that they would be packing their own lunches by middle or high school, and they are certainly capable of doing so. But now that Solomon is going into 10th grade and Celia into 8th, as much as I dislike this task, I still haven’t given it up.  Andrew and I make them clean their own rooms, set the table, clean up after dinner and help take care of the pets and the house. But why are we still packing their lunches?

The biggest reason I can come up with is the same one that gets us up each weekday morning to see them off to their respective school buses at 6:30. At ages 13 and 15, Solomon and Celia set their alarms, get themselves out of bed (most mornings) and make themselves breakfast. We certainly could sleep in for an extra half hour or so, but Andrew and I take turns getting up with them to make, heat or assemble their lunches (sometimes we’ve packed the main course the night before).

Getting up with them is a way to keep them company and feel connected to them in the morning (as painful as it is to wake up so early), especially since we sometimes don’t see them again until the evening.  Packing their lunches is a tangible way to show that we care that they are eating something healthy and delicious at lunchtime. (Plus, I’m not positive they would pack themselves any fruits or vegetables if we didn’t do it for them.)

Here are 5 tools I have found most helpful in packing lunches that have ample space for the kids’ food, don’t leak, and keep the hot stuff hot and the cold stuff cold:

You might also find these other posts with ideas for what to pack for lunches helpful:

In our kids’ lunches, we usually pack a main course such as a sandwich, soup or salad, along with a fruit and/or vegetable, cheese and/or yogurt or kefir, water, and a small dessert. We often pack healthy dinner leftovers in the kids’ main lunch compartments, such as this kid-friendly Mango and Black Bean Salad.

Do you have any tips or favorite tools or products to make packing lunches go smoother in your house? Please share a comment below.

Recipe: Mango and Black Bean Salad

  • Prep Time: 10 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 10 min(s)
  • Total Time: 20 min(s)
  • Servings: 6, about 1 cup each

A quick & easy rice and bean dish


  • 1 cup quick-cooking brown rice (about 2 cups prepared)
  • 15 oz. canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups fresh mango, cut into 1/2-inch chunks, or use frozen
  • 1/4 sweet yellow onion, such as Vidalia, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup scallions or chives, green parts only, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, juice only, about 2 Tbsp.
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt, or more to taste
  • 6 large Boston or butter lettuce leaves (optional)
  • 6 whole wheat tortillas (optional)


  1. Cook the rice according to the package directions. Remove the rice from the heat. (If you want to serve this salad immediately rather than allowing it to chill for a while, put the rice in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool it.)
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the beans, mango, onions, scallions, lime juice and cilantro (optional). Add the rice, season it with the salt, and toss gently. Chill it for at least 10 minutes (an hour or more is ideal) and up to 24 hours.
  3. Serve the salad on its own or wrapped in large lettuce leaves, warm tortillas, or both.
  4. Tip: If you don’t like raw onions, sauté the onions first until they are lightly browned. If you have picky eaters, put some of the beans and rice aside before combining all the ingredients and let them have simple black bean and rice burritos with mango on the side.

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2 Responses to “Best Tools for Packing School Lunches”

  1. David Polanski

    “Packing their lunches is a tangible way to show that we care that they are eating something healthy and delicious at lunchtime.” Even when most parents think that this task is annoying, still it’s very important because of gesture with you saying “I care”.” (Plus, I’m not positive they would pack themselves any fruits or vegetables if we didn’t do it for them.)” Haha I must agree on this:), most of kids won’t do it.