It’s here. Back to school. I feel like I blinked and summer was over. I don’t know about you, but I never felt like it really ever got all that “relaxing” for us. In fact, it seemed busier than ever. It is almost a relief to settle back into a stable routine with back to school upon us. It is also a great time to get reorganized by meal planning (see my post about that here and to get your free meal planning template) and also getting in the swing of lunch packing for school and work. Getting healthy meals in your people’s bodies is half the battle, right?

Lunches have always kind of irked me on a personal level. I tend to get in a sandwich rut, and it takes some effort to get creative. My clients often ask me about lunches too. Lunch tends to so often be an after thought, but it is a real opportunity to re-energize yourself, beat that afternoon slump, keeps that metabolism running efficiently, and avoid that ravenous snack-devouring later before you can make it to dinner (I’m talking to all you lunch skippers out there…). And as a parent, I can totally relate to getting in a rut with what to pack my kiddos. I also want them to learn how to pack their own nutritious lunches now so they will 1) more likely eat it and 2) know how to feed themselves well when they leave the nest (not anytime soon for mine at 1 and 4…but it’s never too early to start).

Bento Boxes:
So what is the biggest recommendation I have about packing amazing lunches? Bento boxes! Last year, I discovered the awesomeness of the Bento box-styled lunch. If you haven’t heard of Bento boxes before, they are basically divided food containers that keep items separated and portions in check. Saves on zip-lock bags, makes an appetizing display, fit well in lunch boxes, and are super easy to clean. My son likes them, and it helps me to clearly see what food group he’s eaten and what he hasn’t so maybe I can try different things. I found a stainless steel box on Amazon for this year, but they also have plastic that are less expensive.

Another great thing about Bento Boxes is the ease of packing them, and how it might actually be…dare I say it….FUN to put together, for both adults and kids. This is why I made a lunch packing key to try out on your Bento Box. That way your lunch packers have a clear guide to make sure they are getting balance, as well as some examples to go off of. The only rule? There is no wrong way to pack your lunch. As long as you have something in every group, it doesn’t matter if the foods don’t even really seem to go together. Whole grain mini waffles with hummus? Why not!? As long as it’s balanced, no reason to stifle creativity and learning experiences :).

lunch packing

Click to download your free PDF for the fridge.

How to Use:
Print out this colorful template and put it on your fridge for your family to follow when packing their lunches for school or work. By getting them into a routine, it will be far less work for you and really make a difference in their ability to choose balanced meals. If you are having trouble getting started, sit down and meal plan some options from each group before the week gets started. Designate a “lunch drawer” in your fridge, then store chopped veggies, fruit, and different protein choices there. They can grab and go, then collect the rest from the pantry. Maybe you can sneak a little love note of encouragement or stickers in that lunch box once in a while to keep things exciting. Easy-peasy, and leaves your kids (even adults too) with a sense of accomplishment and empowerment to make good, satisfying choices. You might even find them saying things at other meals, like “Hey Mom, I’m missing my fruit/vegetable serving.” Wouldn’t that be magical??

Do you have some amazing lunch packing tips that have helped you and your family? Please share!

Until next time! I’m really into getting ourselves situated for back to school this year, so stay tuned for my upcoming post on giving your pantry an organization makeover.

~Elissa