Happier Meals: Cool School Lunch Strategies

By , SparkPeople Blogger
As summer starts winding down and back-to-school shopping begins, lunch boxes and supplies might be on your list. What can you do to help ensure that your kids eat the healthy food you pack instead of trading it for chips and cookies--or even throwing it away? There are lots of cool accessories to make lunchtime more exciting. Looking for ideas to turn boring carrot sticks into a food they won’t want to turn down? Here are some of our picks to brighten up lunch and make healthy eating fun! 
Ice Pop Makers
My kids love when I freeze squeeze yogurts (yogurt in a tube) to eat as an afternoon snack.  These colorful ice pop makers from Norpro can be used for other things, too, like applesauce or smoothies.  Send them to school frozen and they will thaw by lunchtime.   

Cookie Cutters

Curious Chef’s cookie cutters are a good way to make lunchtime fun. Making turkey sandwiches shaped like butterflies or watermelon-shaped stars keeps the complaining to a minimum and gets kids excited about eating healthy food.      

Muffin Cups
Reusable muffin cups from Casabela are good for a variety of foods, add color to the lunchbox and are environmentally friendly, too! Pack homemade muffins as a healthy snack, or use them to hold nuts, crackers, grapes or other finger foods. 

Sandwich and Snack Bags
These reusable sandwich and snack bags from LunchSkins are dishwasher safe and a great way to cut down on the number of plastic baggies needed each day. They come in a variety of themed fabrics, including sea animals, fruit and sports. Have your kids join in the fun by choosing the fabric option they like best!

My daughter uses a Land’s End EZ Wipe Lunchbox, which comes in a variety of colors for girls and boys. I like that it has a hard shell so food doesn’t get squished in her backpack, and it’s also easy to wipe out if spills occur. She thinks it’s cool to have a lunchbox in her favorite colors and style.
This insulated lunchbox from Pottery Barn Kids offers a matching thermos as well as personalization so they always know which lunch is theirs. Whether they prefer Spiderman or butterflies, this lunchbox is available in a variety of styles and themes. 

Container Kit
This reusable lunch container kit from Fit & Fresh gives you brightly colored containers (with an ice pack in each) to pack a variety of healthy foods. Packaging can be a strong influence on kids--it’s hard to turn down broccoli when it’s in a cool container!     

Water Bottle
Looking for an easy way to get your kids to drink more water?  Try sending it to school in a Color Change Hydration Bottle from Thermos. Add ice water, and the bottle changes color! 


I’m pretty sure my kids would eat anything that had a fun ''pick'' in it. Check out these reusable food picks from Bento that come in a variety of themes.     

The more you get kids involved in preparing their lunches, the more likely they are to eat them. Why not let them decorate their lunchbox, baggies, thermos, etc.? These dishwasher-safe stickers from Goodbyn allow your kids to use their creativity in the preparation process.

What fun products have you found to make school lunches more appealing?  Share your ideas in the comments!

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GEORGE815 1/8/2021
Thanks Report
SNUZYQ2 10/10/2020
Seriously cute ideas in this article. Thank you for sharing! Report
Great suggestions. Report
Thanks Report
LISAMARIE2015 5/11/2020
I have used all these 😁 Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
love these things thanks Report
Absolutely great Report
great article Report
Gee wish I had a child to pack for. These things are fun Report
good to know Report
The reusable snack bags and ice pop makers are well loved in my house. And I agree, TIFFIT, my kids eat and love broccoli too! We swear by the LaLa Lunchbox app (free to download!) as the best way for kids and parents to pack a cool school lunch. When kids get to choose their foods, they are more excited by what they bring, and therefore more apt to eat it (and less likely to waste food). Kids' choices become a handy grocery list for parents, so if your kids choose only cookies, you'll know and have the opportunity to chat about why a balanced lunch is better. Happy lunching! Report
Great tips for elementary school kids, but I can't see my teenager being too thrilled with any of these suggestions. There is no microwave to heat up left overs, nor will he take a thermos, so I face many challenges. At least he'll eat fruit and yogurt and salads! Report
I thought the same thing LOLAINSC, while shopping yesterday. I almost bought some of the cute toothpicks for my girls lunchboxes but thought "there's no way the school is going to let this happen" so I put them back. Too bad though, cute concept. I agree, TIFFFIT, broccoli is my kids favorite veg. Report
Why do authors always assume kids won't eat broccoli??? Actual biobehavioral surveys have shown broccoli to be one of kids' favorite vegetables; by suggesting otherwise we are perpetuating a stereotype, even subconsciously, that is counterproductive. Frustrating! Report
I'd be afraid to send those toothpicks in a lunchbox with the kind of crazies that are now running the schools; they might be viewed as a weapon. Don't forget the little girl who was expelled because she had a Tweety Bird keychain, that school authorities claimed could be used as a garotte. Report