A Dietitian's Top 10 Back to School Lunch Box Must-Haves

Summers are always a fun time, but as soon as September hits, the reality of going back to school sets in. And among the many things to plan for, it's time to start thinking about what your child will need for lunch! Don't worry though, because I've got your back! Here are my top 10 must-haves for packing simple and nutritious back to school lunch boxes. These products are all mom and kid approved in my family, and I know yours will love them, too! Happy packing!

1. OmieBox Bento Box for Kids - Insulated Bento Lunchbox with Hot/Cold Leak Proof Thermos Food Jar

Why I love it: My daughter loves soup. So last winter, I was on the hunt for a Bento-style kids lunch box that had a built-in thermos to keep her soup warm. That's when I stumbled upon the OmieBox. After some research and reading reviews, I decided to invest in it. And let me tell you - the investment was worth it! The OmieBox was clearly carefully crafted to be leakproof with an easy to place and remove (to clean) gasket that covers the whole lunchbox giving it a very tight seal, and also a leak proof thermos food jar that is removable. This lunch box has three compartments and two temperature zones - making it's functionality very versatility and rather unique on the market.

Bottom line: If you're looking for a Bento-style kids lunch box that can keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold, give the OmieBox a try.

2. Bentgo® Kids Prints Leak-Proof Bento-Style Kids Lunch Box

Why I love it: The Bentgo® Kids Prints lunch box is another favorite in our house. We use this lunch box when we aren't in need of a thermos. If you're like me, you want your kids to have healthy, fun lunches that they will actually eat. This bento-style kids lunch box is the perfect way to make sure their meals are both exciting and convenient. This lunch box is leak-proof, so there's no need to worry about a mess, and it comes with a variety of colorful print designs that your child is sure to love. Plus, it's easy to clean so you can quickly get it ready for the next meal.

Bottom line: This is a great lunch box for parents who want a classic bento-style kids lunch box without having to worry about leaks and spills.

3. Bentgo® Buddies Reusable Ice Packs

Why I love it: I love the Bentgo® Buddies Reusable Ice Packs for school lunch boxes! They're the perfect way to keep my kids' lunches cold and fresh all day long. Plus, they're really easy to use - just pop them in the freezer overnight and they're ready to go. I highly recommend these ice packs for anyone looking for an eco-friendly and affordable way to keep their lunch cold. Kids love picking out which Bentgo® Buddies Reusable Ice Pack they will use that day!

Bottom line: Reusable ice packs are a must-have for keeping packed school lunches safe (in terms of food safety, we want to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold). Might as well get ice packs that are cute and fun for the kiddos!

4. Bentgo® Kids Prints Lunch Bag

Why I love it: The Bentgo® Kids Prints Lunch Bag has a lot of great features that make it perfect for packing school lunches covered. It's perfect for kids of all ages and it comes in a variety of fun and adorable prints. Plus, it's really easy to use and it helps keep your child's food cold or hot throughout the day. Key features include double insulated, interior and exterior zippered pockets, external bottle holder (a bottle holder is a MUST for me), and water-resistant fabric (easy-to-clean and sanitize is also a must!). There's no right or wrong way to pack a school lunch. Some days my kids want their Bento-style lunchboxes, and others, they want their regular lunch bag. Having options is good for preventing lunch packing ruts, and keeping things fun and interesting.

Bottom line: If you are in search for a classic style lunchbox that comes in cute prints with all the functionalities you need at a more affordable price, look no further! The Bentgo® Kids Prints Lunch Bag has got you covered.

5. Thermos Funtainer (keeps hot/cold + so many cute prints!)

Why I love it: We have been using the Thermos Funtainer for almost 7 years. The Thermos Funtainer is a great lunch box tool for keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. It also has fun prints that kids love and grow with age (for example, my son went from Mickey Mouse print to Pokemon). This is a must-have for packing in a regular lunch box to help increase the variety of foods your child can bring to school.

Bottom line: This is a reliable product that keeps hot foods hot and cold foods cold, plus it comes in fun prints that your kids will love.

6. Simple Modern Kids Straw Water Bottle

Why I love it: When I tell you that I have gone through every water bottle in existence, I mean it. I hit a point where assembling and disassembling water bottles and figuring out which straws went to what drove me bonkers. That's when I landed on Simple Modern Kids Straw Water Bottle. It's well-designed, sturdy (made of insulated stainless steel), easy to fit the straw in (a mega win!), and has a lot of different print options. My kids love them. So, I slowly replaced other brands with this - and now we are pretty much a Simple Modern Water Bottle family. I even use their adult line of water bottles for myself! They have a really useful water bottle carrier sling accessory, too!

Bottom line: Stop driving yourself crazy with kids water bottles and give the Simple Modern Kids Straw Water Bottle a try!

7. Snack/Sandwich Bags - Stasher Silicone Reusable Storage Bags

Why I love it: I try to be eco-friendly. It's not always easy, but when it IS easy and just makes sense, that's a no brainer for me. Like these Stasher Silicone Reusable Storage Bags. They are reusable silicone bags that I like to use to replace single-use plastic baggies. They are fully functional, self-sealing, and contain no BPA, PVC, or latex. I use them a lot for fruits, veggies, and snack foods like pretzels. My kids love them - plus they are a fun way to add a pop of color to your lunch box.

Bottom line: If you are big on lunch prepping for the week, try out these Stasher Silicone Reusable Storage Bags, an eco-friendlier alternative to single-use plastic baggies.

8. Forks/Spoons - Biodegradable Compostable Cutlery

Why I love it: Bio-based cutlery is biodegradable and compostable, making it a win-win for the environment. These utensils are made from plant-based materials and are fully biodegradable and compostable. Not to mention, they're just as sturdy as regular plastic cutlery—my kids can't tell the difference! I'm making the switch to bio-based cutlery, give it a try, too!

Bottom line: If you're looking for a small change that can make a big difference for the environment, give bio-based cutlery a try!

9. Cute School Lunch Box NOTES

Why I love it: With these Cute School Lunch Box Notes, your kiddo will be excited to open their lunch every day. Not only are they adorable, but they're also a great way to show your child how much you care. Here are some of our favorites:

"You are my STAR!"

"You are one SMART COOKIE!"

"Be AWESOME today!"

Bottom line: These Cute School Lunch Box Notes are the perfect way to show your kid some love during the school day. Not only will they make your child's lunch more fun, but they'll also remind them of how much you care.

10. Cute School Lunch Box JOKES

Why I love it: We like to mix up motivational lunch box notes with lunch box jokes! What could be more fun than opening up your lunchbox to find a cute little joke waiting for you? My kids love finding these cute school lunch box jokes in their lunchboxes. They are always excited to see what new joke I've come up with that day. Plus, it's a great way to give them a reminder of me during the day.

Bottom line: These cute lunch box jokes are sure to put a smile on your child's face. They'll love finding these little treasures in their lunchboxes. Give them a try!

Hopefully these tips give you some ideas of useful tools to help you pack healthy and fun lunch boxes this school year! For more great tips, view my blog post: 5 Tips for Packing Simple, Healthy School Lunches that Your Child Will Love

If you have any questions about nutrition or want more ideas, feel free to reach out to me at www.fromthestartnutrition.com!

Note: This blog post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through these links, your cost will be the same, but I will receive a tiny commission. The products that I share are ones that I personally use and believe in.

Get your complete blueprint for packing easy,

healthy lunches every single school day!

Be sure to download my FREE Ultimate School Lunch Planner. This simple 5-step guide will help you confidently build nutritious, balanced, school friendly lunches that your kids will love!

I created this simple 5-step guide to streamline the ins-and-outs of what makes a healthy school lunch, and how to put that knowledge into action. I keep this guide in my kitchen and pull it out whenever I need reminders and inspiration! Adapt the ideas in this guide based on your child's unique nutritional needs and food preferences, as well as your school's food requirements. Enjoy!


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Hi! I’m Beth Conlon, PhD, MS, RDN

I'm so glad you stopped by my blog! I'm on a mission to help children, adolescents, and adults overcome feeding and/or eating issues so that they can achieve good nutrition, reclaim mealtimes, and develop a positive relationship with food and body.

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