Anna is originally from Utah. She moved with her family to Indianapolis in 2007. Her 10 year-old son and 56year-old twin girls keep her very busy and her house a little bit more messy. Anna likes to take photographs (even though she can't use Photoshop), appreciates good music (although she cannot sing a note) and always likes to find new, fun things for her family to do (except skydiving or bungee jumping because that's never going to happen). Contact ohhbetsy at hotmail dot com. Instagram @ohhbetsy Twitter @ohhbetsy

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3 Tools for Awesome Packed Lunches

I fancy myself quite the lunch maker as of late. Now that my oldest is in 3rd grade, I feel I’ve perfected my methods. When I picked him up on his second day of school and asked him how his day was, he said his day was awful. The reason why? He accidentally dropped his open lunch box and his pasta salad dumped on the floor.  Of course, the school wouldn’t let my son starve so they kindly instructed him to get school lunch. He said, “It was the worst! I didn’t even know how to do it. My teacher had to show me!” He lamented the fact that after four years of going to school he had never once had to eat school lunch and now his streak broken. I asked him what he ate. He said it was uncooked broccoli, pears in some sort of liquid (sorry, pal, it wasn’t a fresh pear that I cut for you) and after some digging, I finally discovered that he was offered a Sloppy Joe which I’m pretty sure he didn’t touch.

I’m not here to complain about school lunch. I grew up with hot lunch from school. Actually, it was the disruption of his routine that made him so upset.  I personally pack his lunch because it’s what I like to do. I like knowing what and how much he’s eaten by what he brings back.  I also like giving him extra time to eat since those that have school lunch have to wait in line before they can start.

I try to mix up his lunches by not always packing sandwiches. He likes wraps, he likes crackers, cheese and sliced pieces of turkey breast or ham, and I often make pasta salad with chicken breast. I borrow from the idea of Bento box lunches where I try to give him small portions of a variety of food. I find that he eats his fruits and veggies with no problem this way. I do my best to avoid processed foods and keep it real.  Here are my three packed lunch tools I’ve become dependent upon:

1. Lunch Box containers. I use simple containers by which are by far my favorite. I started with a few different types of lunchbox containers but these have lasted the longest and are the easiest for my son to open and use.

2. Silicone baking cups. I have Wilton brand square baking cups. I find that the squares easily divide up my lunch box containers into even more small squares. I can have six small sections so I can put grapes, cheese, turkey breast, carrots, pickles, and crackers all in without them getting mixed up and soggy. I swear by these little guys.

My Tools for Awesome Packed Lunches #IndyMama #TodaysMama

3. Collapsable Water Bottle. When I first packed lunch I bought organic chocolate milk (expensive!) and juice boxes (oh, the sugar!). Soon enough, I realized my son was fine with water, in fact he preferred it and so did I.  I bought some Vapur water bottles.  They are light but durable and I love that I can freeze the water (it can double as an ice pack).  Having ice cold water absolutely puts me on the “A” list with my son. Like I said, they are tough. I’ve had ours for the third year running and we’ve only lost them due to forgetful son syndrome. I would recommend buying a pack of extra caps. My son tended to chew it up a bit so I just replaced the bottle tops and kept the bottle. Vapur sent us some of their new products to try out and for one reader to win! Both of the Vapur bottles that we tried out are perfect for packed lunches.

The Shades line is like the one we already had at home but it has an easy flip cap which I personally love. The bottle is a half liter size like the Quenchers so it’s the best size for kids’ packed lunch. It’s also great for sports or outdoor activities. It comes in a bunch of different styles and colors. I like to always have one in my bag when we are out and about.

The Quencher comes in four different styles but what’s fun about these bottles is that your child can personalize them the way they would like. The stickers are medical grade adhesive so don’t worry about them falling off after one or two uses. My son loved decorating and loves having having a personalized bottle.If you would like to win both a Quencher and a Shades Vapur bottle enter below!

Designing his own Vapur Quencher #IndyMama #TodaysMama

Packed Lunch Tools - Vapur Quencher #TodaysMama #IndyMama

3 Tools for Awesome Packed Lunches #IndyMama #TodaysMama

Giveaway closed

Thank you to Vapur for sending us samples to try. All opinions are my own.

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Comments (33)

  1. Tess 09/13/2014 at 3:10 pm

    I have tons of those silicon cups and never thought of using them for this. Thanks for the great tip.

  2. Patricia 09/13/2014 at 1:28 pm

    Little baggies help me out, but would love a better way of storage to conserve earth.

  3. Emlyn 09/13/2014 at 11:38 am

    My daughter doesn’t do the sandwich thing, but she loves mini bagels with cream cheese. I know that’s not really a “tool,” but it’s a fun food item!

  4. sarah choi 09/12/2014 at 1:58 pm

    I love my laptop lunch box!

  5. Laura 09/12/2014 at 1:22 pm

    Great ideas

  6. Stacey 09/12/2014 at 11:53 am

    Nice! So much better than all those plastic bags and juicboxes that get sent to landfills!

  7. Lisa S 09/12/2014 at 11:14 am

    What great ideas for a mom trying to think of something for a “peanut free” school environment.

  8. Kristy H. 09/12/2014 at 9:33 am

    These are some great ideas for lunches! Can’t wait to try it out!

  9. Kayla H 09/12/2014 at 8:57 am

    Oh, I want the square liners!!!! I’ve been using the round ones and it just doesn’t work super well!

  10. Erin p 09/12/2014 at 6:33 am

    I’ve never seen these before, but I like the double duty idea about them. I’d be curious to learn if they only recommend using water in them, and how you would clean them after repeated use. Thanks!

    • Anna Shirley 09/12/2014 at 9:11 am

      I have only used them for water but I’m sure any liquid would be fine. I do clean them out regularly. I just have a thin bottle brush that works great. And when I’m lazy, I just shake soapy water around in it and rinse it out. The tops I just wash by hand or in the dishwasher.

  11. Erin P 09/12/2014 at 6:31 am

    I’ve never heard of these before, but they sound like a great double duty product. I am curious to learn if they only recommend water being stored in them or how to clean them after continued usage. Thanks!

  12. Jill 09/11/2014 at 10:19 pm

    These look like fun waterbottles. I like that you can roll them up when you are finished.

  13. Melissa 09/11/2014 at 8:44 pm

    These will be great for my grandchildren!

  14. Stephanie L. 09/11/2014 at 8:30 pm

    We love the smallest 1/2 cup gladware containers, as well as the silicon baking cups 🙂

  15. Laura 09/11/2014 at 8:09 pm

    We love Gladware mini round containers for easy half-cup portioning. Love those water bottles – such a clever way to include a usable ice pack!

  16. Julie L 09/11/2014 at 7:44 pm

    I can’t live without our stainless steel bento box!

  17. Jessica 09/11/2014 at 7:44 pm

    I would love one of this for my girls to use.

  18. Samantha Janec 09/11/2014 at 7:14 pm

    I LOVE my Planetbox for my daughter… it was pricey, but I think it will last a long time, so worth it! I also love the silicone baking cups! My preschooler loves getting her servings of fruits and veggies in them (because they are little and colorful!)

  19. Mara 09/11/2014 at 6:58 pm

    Oh I would love to try these bottles for my littles!

  20. Denise K 09/11/2014 at 6:56 pm

    I LIKE IT:)

  21. Cassie 09/11/2014 at 6:52 pm

    I love the little containers for different things in his lunch (salad dressings, dips, sauces).

  22. Barbara 09/11/2014 at 6:50 pm

    Great suggestion about the baking cups!

  23. Alyssa 09/11/2014 at 6:44 pm

    I really dont have a tool yet for lunches. We have had goodluck with camelback water bottles.

  24. Hoosier Party Girl 09/11/2014 at 8:23 am

    For us it is the same thing every day. Amazon Subscribe and Save is really my best tool to save on squeezable applesauce and other organic snacks in addition to his sandwhich.

  25. Becky 09/07/2014 at 9:19 pm

    What do you use for dips and such? I use small square ziplock brand takeaways.

  26. Alli Louthain 09/07/2014 at 7:52 pm

    I have had a lot of success with the sistema lunch box. Love that I don’t ever use a lunch baggie…only downside is the custom little water bottle…lose that and you are sunk! I would love to see if a collapsible bottle would fit! Hope I win!

  27. ET Pruitt 09/07/2014 at 5:01 pm

    Small containers for salad dressing and other dips.

  28. Jennifer 09/05/2014 at 9:37 pm

    Great ideas!

  29. Katie 09/05/2014 at 2:52 pm

    My boys make their own lunches, but I would like to change them up to be healthier and not always the same. I will have to try these ideas!!

  30. Annalisa 09/05/2014 at 1:44 pm

    These look great. And I love the lunch box/liner idea. I was just thinking this morning that I go through WAY too many ziplock bags!!

  31. Amanda Fleming 09/05/2014 at 1:19 pm

    I love our ziplock divided containers. I also have some Vapur bottles which I love!

  32. Jana 09/05/2014 at 12:42 pm

    Love my reusable snack bags!!