My Favorite School Lunch Supplies

A lot of these items have been shared at one time or another on the blog, but I thought it would be helpful to have everything together in one post. So below are the supplies I love to use when it comes to packing school lunches. Please feel free to share your favorites in the comments below.

  • Ziploc Divided Lunch Containers. These are my favorite lunch containers because they are inexpensive, leak-proof, and easy-to-use with only one lid to open. For other lunch container options check out our recent lunchbox review post.
  • Thermos Bottles. We love these bottles because they are insulated, leak-proof, durable, and they don’t sweat on the outside.
  • Thermos Containers. These containers are great for sending warm lunches when you need a break from sandwiches …think oatmeal, soups or leftovers.
  • Mini Round Containers. These happen to be the absolute perfect size for a single muffin and it also keeps them from getting smushed. When I send soup in a thermos I oftentimes send a muffin in one of these as well.
  • Ice Packs. I don’t like to hold back when it comes to keeping my daughters’ lunches cold…so I usually add 2 – 3 ice packs. I like these flexible blue ones because they can be cut to any size (and they are light-weight), and I also like to throw in a fun animal ice pack as well.

  • Lands End Soft Sided Lunch Bags. To ensure all these goodies will fit in one lunch bag you don’t want to mess around…not all lunch bags are created equal! We use the Lands’ End soft sided bags and love them. They will hold a lunch container and Thermos bottle along with several ice packs. Alternatively you can fit a Thermos bottle, Thermos container, and one other container (that will hold something like a side of fruit or a muffin) in these bags as well.
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  • Smoothie Pop Molds (a.k.a. Ice Pop Makers). We freeze smoothies, yogurt and applesauce in these molds and then wedge them into the Ziplock divided containers where they partially defrost by lunchtime. To learn more about how these molds work check out my recent post all about them.
  • Reusable Napkins. When I first started packing lunches for my daughter I would look in her lunchbox at the end of the day and not even be able to tell if she used her napkin or not…and then it would go in the garbage. That seemed like such a waste so we started using cotton napkins that I wash with the rest of our laundry on the weekends. We bought some plain white, small cocktail napkins and tie dyed them ourselves, which by the way is a great way to hide stains, but you can also get napkins that are already colorful and ready to use like these solid colored ones from Laptop Lunches.
  • Reusable Silverware. If I am no longer going to throw away lunchbox napkins at the end of the day then why still use plastic, disposable silverware? For things like soups, cut up fruit, pasta, and oatmeal we’ve been using an inexpensive small set of silverware and it works great because I don’t fret if a utensil gets misplaced.
    lunchbox silverware on 100 Days of #RealFood
  • Fun Toothpicks. It’s hard to resist a sandwich if there is a bumble bee toothpick sticking out of it. I always keep my eyes open for cute toothpicks, and I usually have good luck finding them around the different holidays at Target or anytime at Party City. Here are some fun and colorful Martha Stewart picks.
  • Cute Cookie Cutters. Whoever said “cookie cutters” only had to be for cookies! Now just imagine that sandwich with the bumble bee toothpick in the shape of a flower. You might just get the “Mother of the Year” award. :) If you are worried about wasting the bread ends after you cut out a shape simply throw them in the freezer for things like croutons or breadcrumbs. You can also use the cutters on other lunchbox items like fruit and cheese.
  • Biodegradable or Reusable Baggies. Yes plastic throwaway bags are quick and easy, but I am going to try to be better about not using them this year. Some great alternatives are “monster” Wexy bags, which are biodegradable or these reusable bags from neat-os, which I think most resemble the ziplocs we are all know and love!Neatos Storage Bags
  • Silicone Cups/Muffin Liners. These liners are great for both baking muffins (because they are non-stick, colorful and reusable!) and also for adding some cuteness to your child’s lunchbox by holding side items like fruit or trail mix. Note we use both standard and jumbo sizes depending on our needs.
  • Freezer-Safe Glass Jars. These jars are perfect for freezing individual portions of soups and other meals that can then be defrosted, reheated, and added to a Thermos container for your child’s lunch bag. I defrost my soups in the fridge overnight and then reheat them on the stove the next morning before school. Just be sure to leave some room at the top of the jar so the food has room to expand.
  • Ice Cube Trays. These trays are the perfect way to freeze small portions of things like applesauce or tomato sauce so you can add a few cubes to your child’s lunchbox the night before school. Now you no longer have to worry about jars of sauces spoiling before you can use them all up.
  • [New item added in 2013] Lunchbox Love Cards. We quickly fell in love with these adorable little cards last school year and have been sending them in our daughters’ lunch boxes ever since. Sure I could write my own note daily, but the thing is I could never be as creative or funny or thoughtful as these. Also, I love the fun facts and jokes for kids on the back of each card. I flip through the pack and pick one that’s appropriate for the day…and my daughters look forward to getting them and sharing the jokes and trivia with their friends at the lunch table. Be sure to use our coupon code “100Days” for 20% off your order. (Note: The cards are sturdy enough to be reused a few times if they don’t get wet.)
    lunchbox love cards

For ideas on what “real food” to pack using these school lunch supplies the check out my recent School Lunch Roundup post!

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374 thoughts on “My Favorite School Lunch Supplies”

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  1. WHEN YOU USE THE LANDS END LUNCHBOX AND YOU’RE USING A THERMOS, CAN YOU ALSO FIT THE ZIPLOCK DIVIDED CONTAINER? OR, IS THERE NOT ENOUGH ROOM FOR BOTH OF THOSE ITEMS?

    THANKS!

  2. Looking for the food warmer/rice pouch type thing you were advertising on the side bar for school lunches? Thank you!

  3. My local superstore (Loblaw’s) had divided plastic containers in princess and cars designs. I can’t recall if they were Zip lock brand but they seem to be holding up very well.

    1. I have been searching high & low for these, as well . I called ziplock today and the item had been discontinued!!! There are plans for a replacement product. They have the regular rectangular one without divider. I expressed my disappointment. : (

  4. After looking into several lunch container options I decided on the Ziploc divided container, only I’ve looked at almost every local retailer that I thought would carry them and I’ve had no luck finding them. After coming up short online as well I contacted the Ziploc company and was informed they are no longer producing or selling the product :( Guess I will start my search over and look into some other options.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Brooke. Outside of scaling up the size of the many different lunches Lisa puts together, and mixing and matching contents, think leftovers. I get the most mileage out of meals for my big eaters when I “plan” lunch as I am making dinner, not always but probably 3-4 days a week. Tomorrow, they get Cuban black beans with garlic-onion quinoa along with a small salad and strawberries which that just happens to be very similar to what they ate for dinner tonight. :)

  5. Lisa mentioned she can fit a ziplock divided container and a thermos in her soft sided Lands End Lunch Bag. HOW?? The Thermos must be on the outside?

  6. My son is starting preschool in a few weeks and am trying to get lunch ideas for him. I see many helpful things here, so thanks! I am wondering about sending hot/warm foods. How do you send both hot foods and foods needing a ice pack? Does a thermos of hot food not affect cold stuff in a different container, even if they are both in the same lunch box? Does it matter? Thanks for any tips–I am adept at packing my own lunch but I can use a microwave, and he won’t be able to do that.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Laura. You can pack hot and cold together for sure. I do it all the time. The thermos will have little effect on the cold stuff and visa versa. Don’t stress. :) ~Amy

  7. Why not reheat the soup or food in the mason jar instead of pouring it into a pot in the morning? Are they not microwave safe? I am looking for anything to save more dishes/pots to clean.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Suzanne. You can certainly use the microwave. Just be sure to remove the lid and cover with something microwave safe. :)

  8. Kimberly Farragher

    I don’t know if there’s a Container Store near you but they have a lot of awesome lunch solutions.

  9. OK, I got my answer from a different post that actually did show the dimensions. I think it will fit. I’ll give it a try.

  10. Looking for a lunch box. Do you know if the Wildkins brand lunch boxes fit the Ziploc containers inside? I’d like to buy the lunch box on Amazon if I can and they don’t have any Lands End ones on Amazon (that I can find). Or do you know of any lunch boxes on Amazon that fit the containers? There are no dimensions listed anywhere. If not, that’s OK. I can always return it. Just wondered if anyone knows.

    1. In case anyone wants to know, the Wildkin brand lunch box (at Amazon) DOES fit the Ziploc divided container. They both came in the mail today. However, a thermos won’t fit alongside. No big deal. I’ll just have my son carry the thermos on the side of his backpack. I love these products, though! I’m actually excited to pack lunches.

      1. Hi Shelli,

        I bought “EasyLunchboxes Insulated Lunch Box Cooler Bags” on Amazon and they are awesome! They have a bunch of colors and I simply glued on inexpensive cute patches for my four kids to personalize the bags. The bags fit their own brand (Easylunchboxes) three part containers, which look a lot like the Ziploc brand. I can fit the container, a small drink thermos, snacks, and utensils in the bag, no problem. I just put an ice pack or two inside to keep things cold since it gets hot where we are. This morning I put a kid size thermos full of Lisa’s yummy macaroni and cheese in the lunch box, along with a drink, a reusable snack bag, a homemade green smoothie pop (using the molds Lisa recommends), and one other snack and had room to spare! :)

  11. I wash my girls lands end boxes in the washing machine with a load of towels every couple months, seems to keep them fresh. (I hang them dry)

  12. We have had the lands end soft sides for about a year and they smell awful. Any tips for cleaning? Milk has leaked and we have washed and washed but no luck getting the smell out.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Holly. This has happened to us, too. I soaked the bag in dish soap and white vinegar. Once it dries, it should not smell like milk or vinegar. :)

  13. I follow this blog all the time. I am dying to find and use the Ziplock divided containers from the top of your list. But we live in Canada; Alberta to be more specific. I can’t find these containers at Walmart, Target or local grocery stores here. Do any of your Canadian fans know where I can find them? Thanks so much.

  14. We’ve already bought the Ziploc containers, the water thermos, the ice pack blanket, next are the lunch bags from Lands End.. slowly acquiring more of your list to be fully ready for lunch making! :)

  15. Are the ziplock divided lunch containers really leak proof? Judging from your lunch bags, it looks like they’re being carried sideways. Does the food ever leak or get mixed up from one divider to the other?

    1. Hey there.. She has some lunch posts that explain what all she’s packed in the ziplock containers such as yogurt, and that they’re the best for leak-proof lunches..

      Here’s the link to one of her posts (with pictures included) that shows before/after of the life cycle of a packed lunch: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/04/12/school-lunch-life-cycle/

      Hope this helps, friend!
      I’m just starting out on the packed lunch bandwagon myself.. my son starts kindergarten in about a month so I was so glad I found this blog! :)

  16. Do the neat-os bags keep things from getting stale? I’ve used other reusasable bags and found it is not a tight enough seal since I like to pack parts of lunches and snacks the night before. For example, would pretzels still taste fresh if packed the day before?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hello Deirdre. Compared to some of the other non-disposable bags we’ve tried, Neatos does a good job keeping things fresh. ~Amy

  17. Hi Lisa, the coupon code for neat os says it’s expired. Do you know if they’ll be offering one again soon?

  18. Land’s End advised me today that they’re discontinuing their current soft sided lunch box. For anyone seeking a different color other than what they have left in stock, I’d suggest checking on ebay. I just bought one for my daughter on there and there’s still some sellers with a few more in stock. They’re new and for a much lower price (considering shipping)!

    1. There are several new soft-sided lunchboxes on the Lands End website! I love them – my son is going on using his same LE lunchbox for the 8th year. Amazing!

  19. One of my favorite lunch containers that I use every day in my kids lunches is from Sistema. These are easy to open and BPA free. They have really made my mornings packing lunches stress free. I no longer have to search for lids! I found mine at my local grocery store. Here is a link to see what they look like on Amazon. Thanks for all your inspiration Lisa!!
    http://www.amazon.com/Sistema-Klip-Lunch-Container-48-Ounce/dp/B002B4S75I/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1397007190&sr=8-13&keywords=sistema

  20. Hello :)
    I’m finding myself shaken in the wake of the newest findings re: BPA free plastics.
    My son and daughter will be 2 and 4 this September. Do you
    have any suggestions for drink ware that isn’t plastic and budget friendly?
    They are both capable of drinking from glasses but in an effort to encourage them
    to drink more water, I let them wander around the house with their cups. (We are currently
    using tommy Tippee sippy cups).
    Also, will you be changing your lunch containers? They’re so convenient but again, this new
    plastic scare is a bit overwhelming.
    Thank you!
    Sarah

  21. My kids have LOVED the lunches. We don’t stick to the plan exactly because of dislikes, but they are getting a much better variety and don’t even want to buy lunch anymore.
    My one question is with the popsicle molds. I have used them twice (the ones you recommended) and both times they have spilled all over the lunch box. Granted my 9 year old didn’t finish the popsicle and may not have put the lid on tightly, but the 2nd time he insisted he did and it still spilled an icky gross smoothie all over the place. Also, my daughter had an issue with it and it spilled all over herself while opening it. I don’t know if I should give it a 3rd try? Do you have any advice on how to make these great ideas work better?

  22. Hi!! I cannot seem to find any links to purchase the metal looking divided containers. We already have the plastic ones. Could you please point me in the right direction? Thank you!! You have inspired me!

  23. I love sugarbooger divided lunch boxes. Cute designs, perfect for lunches, EASY TO OPEN. Perfect size for 100 Days Real Food lunches! And, at affordable price:

    •polypropylene
    •Divided 3 compartment lunch container keeps food separated
    •Kid friendly, easy open lid
    •Made of food safe, non toxic, lead free, pic free and phthalate free polypropylene
    •Dishwasher safe, do not microwave
    •Measures 8″ by 55″ by 25″

  24. Hi Amy! I just purchased the kids lunch guide and am starting to order my supplies, but I had a question about the silicone ice pop molds you recommend. Some of the Amazon reviews say they have a chemical smell either when they arrive or after using them for a while. Have you had any experience with this or any recommendations to remove the smell if it occurs? I was going to order 12 of them but don’t want to have a smell issue. Thanks for your help! :)

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Danna. The ones that we have and have used do not have a chemical smell. We are not sure why some people have had that experience. We all really love ours. ~Amy

  25. I have a question about the lunchboxes. I would prefer to use the planetbox lunch box, but am wondering if anyone knows whether the Rover would fit in the LandsEnd lunch bag that you have? The dimensions for the lunch bag are 1/2″ larger than the lunch box, but that can be deceiving… Thanks for any tips!!

  26. Do you re-use your wexy bags? I’m curious because I ordered some and think they are too cute to throw away after one use..lol so I was wondering what you do, thanks!!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Christy. I always reuse the ones that are easy to rinse out..not so much the ones that get covered in peanut butter. :) ~Amy

  27. How do you clean the Land’s End lunchbox? We had an applesauce spill and I can’t seem to get it not to smell! I have never had this issue before with other lunchboxes…not sure if it is because of how long it sat like that (all day at school) or what…help!!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Pam. Usually soap, water, and air drying does the trick. I’ve added a little lemon juice, too, to get rid of unwanted aromas. :) ~Amy

  28. My son has problems opening up his thermos, the seal becomes too tight. So most times the lunch comes home. Do you know of any thermos that has and easy open lid?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hello Pauline. We had a problem with that a couple times, too, though my kids asked for help…they know I am unhappy if they bring back a lunch that has not been eaten. :) The Aladdin 12 oz Hybrid Kiddo Stainless Steel Vacuum Food Jar has a lid designed for small hands and works well. My kids have these as well as Thermos brand jars but the Thermos ones have flat lids. ~Amy

  29. As I was cleaning my sons thermos drink container tonight, I found black mold in the straw. Yikes! He has never had anything other than water in the container. I do clean it daily but do not always remove the straw. Any experience with this problem? Solutions other than removing the straw each time?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Jennifer. Bacteria can build up in any moist area. I rinse with soap and water everyday. You can also buy a straw brush cleaner. It is just like a tiny bottle brush and works perfectly. You can find them in the sippy cup area of most larger stores or on Amazon. ~Amy

  30. Thanks for the tip about cloth napkins. That is all we use at home but it had never occurred to me to use them in my kids’ lunches. The re-useable bags I use are from Re-Pac http://www.re-pacbags.com/Default.asp. The company is local (to me) and the bags are quite sturdy and are super easy to clean (throw them in the washer with your napkins). They also come in several sizes and a variety of cute colors and patterns.

  31. Hi,
    do you know if the Bento lunch boxes you use are sold in Australia? I tried to order off Amazon, but they don’t ship to Australia, and I tried to search for them here, but didn’t have any luck, I got the Silicone Ice Pop makers – they are brilliant. I have a son who has an intolerance to colours, and I haven’t been able to find a water icy pole that doesn’t contain nasty colours – even the “fruit” icy poles, all have nasty colours added. So this way I can at least make my own. But I love the lunch boxes you use, it would save my boys have to open lots of little containers… – and easier for me to clean! :) Thank you, and thanks for the great food ideas :)

  32. Just found your website and I love it! Thanks for all the great ideas. I was wondering if you’ve ever tried lunchbots? They’re stainless steel containers with different size compartments. A little pricey, but worth it and my kids like the too!

  33. I have a question about the silicone cups. How do you clean them? I had a silicone muffin pan years ago and it always seemed to get a white residue on it when I put it in the dishwasher.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi there. Silicone is dishwasher safe. It was likely whatever soap you used that left the residue. It should go away if you rinse the cups in warm water. I prefer washing my silicone by hand. ~Amy

  34. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

    Hi Bill. Do you mean other than in a thermos? Let me know how I can help. Just not sure what you are asking. ~Amy

  35. Found your website via a presentation on nutrition recently. Was wondering if there is a easy way to send juice. Any idea? Thanks.

  36. Can you recommend divided kid plates that are dishwasher and microwave safe? My little ones love the cute themes and seem to eat more food when meals are served on these but i find it to be such a pain that i can’t heat leftovers up on the plates.

  37. I can’t imagine kids keeping the divided container flat and with multiple items in the large section, how do the foods not get all mixed together?

  38. These ideas are great! I pick up silverware at Goodwill for my daughter’s and husband’s lunches. That way we’re not tossing (and constantly buying) plastic ware, and I don’t care if it doesn’t come back home.

  39. Do you have problems with the thermos containers leaking or having a hard time cleaning the lid and inner seal? The reviews online mention the latter and I want to make sure that’s not an issue before I order 3 of them. Thanks. I love your sight it has encouraged me to make many, many changes with respect to what my kiddos take in their lunches and what I feed my family every day. Keep up the great work!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Jennifer. No leaking issues at all. You do have to clean the lid and seal but I don’t think it is particularly challenging. :) ~Amy

  40. I’m on the hunt to find a Thermos-like container that isn’t shaped for soup. Something that holds flat things (oh, such as a slice of pizza or a quesadilla) and keeps it warm. Suggestions?

      1. my mom use to make )crest rolls sauce cheese veggie) pizza rolls and send them in the “soup” looking one, or would send a hot dog in bun cut in half in the “soup” one or a whole uncut hotdog in the “drink” one. she would used a juice box as an ice pack since w were older the older kids ate at a later time. good luck

    1. Any luck finding this yet? I too am on the hunt to keep solids (chicken fingers, pot pies, etc) warm without putting them in a vertical thermos (designed for stews, etc). Please post if you are successful in finding something out there!

      1. Heather Wainwright

        I’ve found that there are all sorts of hot/cold gel packs that you can get online or even at your local grocery store/pharmacy.

        Would that be a solution for hot lunches? Using hot packs instead of cold packs in the insulated lunch bag? I’m wondering if anyone has tried it.

        Also, I just found these cute kid-friendly ones that are inexpensive.

        http://www.cryopakretail.com/KOOLKIDZ.html

  41. I LOVE all these great ideas!! I just wanted to clarify before I hit the order button over at Land’s End…the divided ziplock containers AND the thermos drink bottle fit together in the Land’s End Soft Sided lunch box? We are currently using a Pottery Barn lunchbox and we can’t fit his water in it with the ziplock container, and he keeps forgetting it in his backpack when he takes his lunch down to the cafeteria. I would love to have it all in one place! Thanks!! (And, sorry, if this was already asked and answered in the comments – I scrolled through as many as I could before writing this:)!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Danielle. If you are concerned, there is a secure pouch on the side for the water bottle, too. That is where I put ours when the lunch bags are packed full. I’ve used the Land’s End lunch bags for 5 years. :) ~Amy

  42. I love all these adorable lunch items! My question is: Since most of these items are not throw-aways, how do you get the kids to make sure everything is returned home and not thrown out? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sent lunch in non-disposable containers that found their way into the school’s garbage can…

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Elisa. That happened once or twice to us but I made it really clear to my boys that everything that goes to school in the bag (minus the food) needs to come back in the bag. It almost always does now. It helps to label everything, too. The Ziplock containers are great because they are just one divided piece that holds everything. :) Best of luck. ~Amy

  43. Hi. I’m new here. I’m so excited about your message and what you’re doing, but, honestly, I’m extremely disappointed to see you advocating plastics (even BPA free ones). Leaching still happens. Why not replace Ziplock with Lunchskins (or something similar, like the small Planet Box containers)? And it’s not just about the plastic. Do these products include flame retardants or other hidden toxins? I’m not sure but I would hope that y’all would know and do full disclosure. I’d love to be able to count on your recommendations! Thank you for all your hard work. I know it’s daunting.

  44. Hi, I am interested in buying the Land’s End soft sided lunch box you recommended. We already have the Thermos bottles. Do they fit in the mesh pocket on the side of the lunch box? Or could you tell me in your experience if the thermos bottle and a ziploc divided container fit in the main compartment at the same time?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Megan. I somehow mixed up my replies! :) Are you asking about the drink thermos? You can use the mesh pocket for the small drink thermos and it stays in securely. The soup/wider thermos will not fit in the mesh pocket or in the bag with the Ziplock container. You have to use smaller accompanying containers the days you send the wide thermos. :) ~Amy

  45. I’ve also been shopping thrift/junk stores for silverware, just pennies and don’t have to worry if they lose one too. :) Loved these things, added a few to my wish list! :)

  46. How easy are those Thermos bottles to clean? I’ve had my share of these straw cups/bottles and always find ‘something’ collecting in those straws or lining that is hard to clean/get rid off. How do you clean them?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Agnes. They do have parts that need attention each day. I find that if wash and soak each in hot soapy water and then rinse and dry them so no moisture collects, keeping them clean is not a problem. ~Amy

  47. THANK YOU! I am a full time working mommy who does my very best to provide preservative free, real food for my family but I need some slack sometimes. You are real. I don’t feel guilty and bad about myself when I’m done reading your posts. Thank you!

  48. I have used a thermos type bowl (from Starbucks) a lot but it does not really keep foods warm. If I put the hot water in it, fill it with HOT soup, and surround it with a heated rice bag and towels… the food is lukewarm by the time dh gets to it. Granted, he leaves very early so it’s in there for 5 hours or so before he uses it.

    I’m doubting these thermos bowls are any better. ????

  49. The silicone is safe because it is a non-porous solid, but the chemical they use instead of BPA is just as bad and there is 15 other ones they don’t talk about that are just as bad in plastic. Plus plastic is a semi-porous solid so it soaks up and leeches things which makes it unsanitary and dangerous. Way more so than the processed foods you’re avoiding.

  50. Will the Land’s End soft-sided lunch box hold a Planet Box? I love the concept of the Planet Box, but am not wild about their bags.

  51. First, the 3 compartment Ziplock containers, I have a difficult time fitting those into the kids lunch boxes :( If it was only a half inch shorter both width and length it would be perfect. I also found them cheapest at our local grocery store, Woodman’s.

    Second and last, Cozi.com is AWESOME. I’ve been using them for years and I love their lists and calendar apps. I have pepperplate.com (and app) for my menu planning that I’m used to so I haven’t use Cozi’s. Probably won’t since I’m so moved into pepperplate at this point.

  52. I love the idea of the cloth napkins, but found that the cute ones you recommend (which I love) are way out of our price range, especially since we are a family of 6. As an alternative, I found really fun fabric pieces for making quilts (let me preface by saying I am very far from being crafty or a seamstress!) @ Walmart for $9 and when cut in half, they made 16 napkins. All I had to do was sew a seam and iron. 16 napkins for $9! That’s a deal! Thanks for inspiring me to do something I never would have thought of doing.

  53. I loved these tips and use these products as well. I am now struggling with my older kids lunches. They love to take dinner leftovers but many don’t do well in a thermos. On top of that they leave so early but eat so late that it’s hard to get the food to stay tasty warm. The school does provide microwaves which is great but with all the controversy over microwaving plastics I’m not sure what containers to send. Glass doesn’t seem like the best idea with the rough & tumble rides their lunch boxes often endure. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. I’ve Used The Thermos Bowl For My Daughter Many Times And It Always Stays Hot Until Lunch.I Just Put Really HoT Water In It, Close It Up For A Few Minutes And Then When I’m Ready To Put The Food In It’s Good And Warm. The Same Goes For Cold Items Too. Even In The Thermos Cup. I Put Cold Water And Ice In For A Few Minutes Then Dump It Out And Milk Stays Cold All Say.

  54. I just wanted to share that Costco sells an Artic Zone Ultra lunch bag that has two handles, one at the top like most lunch boxes, but one also on the side, perfect for lunches like bento containers. It also has an expandable zipper to make the bag bigger for thermos etc. but when its fully zipped, is no bigger then a typical lunch bag. This will be our first year really utilizing these things to make healthier lunches. Thank you for all of the great tips!

  55. Do you have the dimensions of the Ziploc bento containers? Want to make sure it will fit in our lunchboxes!! THX!!

    1. I LOVE all these ideas as well but am concerned about the containers, specifically the silicone cups. They seem awesome to cook & serve in but are we sure nothing leeches out into the food?

    2. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi there. Lisa uses Ziplock containers which do not contain BPA nor do the silicone cups. ~Amy

  56. If I want to pack hot lunch for my kid, do you think the PlanetBox can be used as a replacement for the thermos container? Are each individual compartment sealed when closed so no food from other compartments can get to each other? Thank you for your time to answer my questions.

  57. I am totally in love with Planet Box too. My son has used it daily in Kindergarten and first grade now and it still looks new! My son has been really hard on the bag and it looks awefully tired but still functions perfectly. We also use the Ziplock divided containers if I need to make several lunches ahead for the week because I know we will be really busy. I can freeze a sandwich/applesauce/veg sticks type combo and they thaw beautifully. I also like to dress it up with a plastic cupcake ring sometimes and my kids love it. There are only two kids in my son’s class last year that had cold lunch so I try to make my lunches more fun or interesting so he doesn’t feel left out.

  58. You need to check out these on Amazon: Bento Lunch Box Containers. They are BPA free, PVC free and phthalate free. Many containers say BPA free but they can still contain other harmful chemicals. Also, anyone know where to find lunch boxes like these from Lands End but that are free of all these chemicals also?

  59. Do the silicone muffin liners work well for the Breakfast Casserole Bites recipe? I love the recipe but wondered if I would always have to have a supply of foil muffin liners on hand.

    1. Yes, I use them for baking (including the breakfast bites) and they are great! I turn them inside out and sometimes give them a little scrub when it comes time to clean them.

  60. I have to add our favorite way to send drinks. My kids drink water everyday for lunch. I hated the thought of them drinking water out of plastic everyday. I found the VOSS water that comes in nice glass bottles. We reuse those In a built NY bottle holder to protect them. Three kids, one year of lunches…only 2 broken bottles and plastic free water.

  61. Last year I started using a Mr. Bento. It is a large thermos that holds four small containers. It has been incredible for my 12yr old that has a bigger appetite than younger kids. It keeps food hot or cold.

  62. I am so glad you posted this! We start school August 1 :-(, so I have thinking a lot about what to pack for lunch and what to put it in!

  63. I bought each of my kids a Planetbox two years ago and I will never use anything else. Even after two years of being used every day, they are still in near-perfect condition. The only thing is that the carrying cases looked a bit sad so I purchased new ones, but I could have easily gotten one more year out of the cases. I absolutely love them.

  64. I couldn’t make a filled smootie pop mold fit in the zip lock container, perhaps it’s just me. Also I love the muffin cup idea, it works great for us BUT, those things make terrible muffins! The muffins lack the nice crisp outside texture that you get from the metal molds FYI.

  65. I found the Ziplock containers cracked within 1 month of usage, even assuring they only went on the top rack of the dishwasher. Perhaps if I find them again I will ONLY hand wash them and see if they last longer. For now, I’ve found another lunch box on Amazon that runs about $10 and lasted for months. One finally got a small crack on the outside edge.

  66. Sharon Zeveneyy

    My favorite is the Ziploc divided containers used in the Planet Box case — Planet Box is the lunchbox from pottery barn with the metal divider container…. but I ditched the metal container for the platic ziploc divider container because it is so much more lightweight and I just purchase the Planet Box case for it from their website under accessories. It fits the ziploc container perfectly and you still have an outer snack pocket and a drink pocket on the outside.

  67. I have to mention LAPTOP LUNCHES!! These are lunch boxes that combine pretty much everything you mentioned in your post, in one lunch “system”. Buy it once and stop throwing away all those ziplock plastic containers from above. I have used laptop lunches for 3 years now and love them. My kids never have one item of trash to throw away at school. laptoplunches.com Please check it out.

    1. so, your kiddos don’t have problems opening them? One review on amazon said her kindergartner couldn’t open them, and even she had a hard time getting the containers open?

      1. I have used them for both of my older kids when they were kindergartners. We did practice a couple times before school started, and neither one of them had a problem. I think they are a million times easier to open than those mixed fruit/jello/pudding cups that I always have to help the other kids with at lunch duty! :) Can’t recommend the system highly enough. I really do love them! (Shouldn’t I be paid for advertising, or something?) :)

  68. Hello! Thank you for all of your helpful tips on cleaning up our diets. While I hate to be a Debbie Downer, I can’t help but wonder why you wouldn’t take the extra step and eliminate plastic and its potentionally harmful effects on these little bodies? Is there a reason or is it simply a convenience factor? Thanks again for your guidance!
    Best,
    Amy

    1. Thank you, Jill!

      My apologies to 100daysofrealfood., I’m just seeing the previous comments regarding the elimination of plastics from last year’s original post. Obviously a popular topic!

    2. I hate to use plastic in connection with food too, but you can’t send glass containers to school, they don’t travel well and are heavy. Sometimes, but rarely, I have to compromise. I never expose the containers to heat, either by putting hot food in them or reheating food in them. I always remove the food to a pot or eat it cold. Many plastics these days are BPA free. The plastic containers I am most concerned about are plastic wrap around foods in the meat department (on foam trays), and the commercially packaged clear plastic bottled waters, and other beverages.

  69. I found the divided Ziploc containers at Target. I did order some similar to them from amazon that are Easy Lunch Boxes.com.

  70. I’ve seen the ziplock containers at both Walmart and target recently. You might want to check there before ordering them online.