January 31, 2020

Packing a lunch for a day out with the kids can be overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of options for a delicious lunch bag out there. In fact, we are going to share some simple options to add to your lunch bag that won’t add any stress to your day. These tips will work for children of multiple ages and remove some of the worries from lunch on the go.

What to Pack in Your Lunch Bag for a Day Out with Kids

Packing lunch for babies
Packing lunch for toddlers
Packing lunch for preschoolers
Packing lunch for elementary-aged kids
Packing lunch for food allergies
Packing lunch for parents
Packing perishables in an on the go lunch
5 Don’ts for packing a lunch for a day out with kids

Packing lunch for babies

While babies are pretty simple to take care of, they quickly reach a stage where they are able to eat more than a bottle. When that time comes it can be important to plan for their lunches on the go. There are a few different items you can pack as well as some items you don’t need to pack. Here are a few tips for packing lunch for babies.

5 Things to Pack for Lunch for Babies

  1. Water bottles - If your baby is still on formula, you will want to make sure to pack water bottles in your bag to make bottles. Whether you use a reusable water bottle filled with filtered water or a store-bought water bottle, it is important to have water on hand for bottles on the go.
  2. Baby Food - If your baby has moved into the baby food stage, you will want to pack their preferred baby food. Most baby food does not need to be refrigerated. If you have items that do, an insulated bag with an ice pack would be advised. Many baby food brands now have squeezable containers for baby food. These are an option to consider when eating on the go as you will have less to carry.
  3. Utensils - If your baby is eating baby food there is a good chance you will need to bring along infant spoons so that you can feed this to them. You can go with disposable utensils or bring something that you can take home with you and wash. Make sure you have utensils in your lunch bag though. Sometimes having a reusable bag or Ziploc bag to put the utensil in can help you to avoid messes in your bag.
  4. Baby Wipes - Feeding a baby can get messy under the best of circumstances. When you are out and about, make sure you have packed 2 extra baby wipes in your bag for lunch. This will help you to clean up your baby and the area they ate in with minimal stress. You can also bring a simple washrag and a bottle of water to do a quick wipe down.
  5. Baby snacks - Little items like puffs, fresh fruit, and baby cookies are great to have on hand for lunch on the go. Not every baby will eat an entire lunch while they are out but having small snacks on hand can give you the perfect option for your baby in that moment. Make sure to pack your baby’s favorite q the go snack in your lunch pack.

Packing lunch for toddlers

Toddlers can be the pickiest eaters ever. Add to it the fact they are constantly on the go and it can make packing lunch for them downright confusing. However, packing lunch for toddlers doesn’t have to be stressful. There are some fail-safe options that are sure to work for most toddlers. We have a few suggestions for your toddler’s lunch on the go.

5 Things to Pack for Lunch for Toddlers

  1. Fresh fruit - With toddlers it can be important to watch for choking hazards. Slicing up fruit in advance and putting it in a sealed container can save some headaches later on. Keep these items in an insulated lunch box to keep them cool and fresh. For fresh fruit, items like strawberries, bananas, blueberries, and sliced peaches can be great additions to any lunch.
  2. Sandwiches - Sometimes sandwiches are a fast hit with toddlers while other times they may not eat them at all. Try packing a sandwich sliced into smaller pieces or cut in fun shapes with cookie cutters. Sometimes an element of fun can make lunch on the go with toddlers easier. Using smaller cookie cutters can give you bite-sized pieces that are safe for toddlers.
  3. Drinks - Whether your toddler is allowed juice, milk, water or something else, you will want to make sure to bring along a drink in a simple container. Having a favorite sippy cup on hand can be a big help for avoiding messes and giving your toddler some independence. If you water down juice, bring along a water bottle to do so.
  4. Small snacks - Toddlers can be easily distracted and may not want to always stop for a full lunch. Having small snacks on hand can help them to eat something in a bit of a hurry without worrying about going without. Having items like goldfish, small crackers, or a granola bar on hand can be a great option for busy toddlers.
  5. Fun foods - With toddlers sometimes it can be helpful to pack fun foods. What do we mean by fun foods? These are foods that are packaged or prepared in a different way than they might be at home. Maybe they get a yogurt squeeze instead of a yogurt cup or jello jigglers instead of a jello cup. Having some fun twists on their favorites can motivate them to eat on the go and save you a mess.

Packing lunch for preschoolers

Preschool is a fun age to prepare an on the go lunch for. They aren’t babies or toddlers anymore so you have a bit more freedom. Preschoolers also have a better ability to eat a variety of foods and the ability to focus for a bit longer than a toddler might. Here are some options you can pack in a preschooler’s lunch bag for a day out.

5 Things to Pack for Lunch for Preschoolers

  1. Lunch kits - Whether you go with a Lunchable or build your own lunch kit, preschoolers can really enjoy the opportunity to build their own lunch. Some great options for a build your own lunch might include crackers, cheese, and lunch meat. You could also easily add in a favorite chip, salsa, and taco meat for a nacho lunch option. The goal with these is to give your preschooler some independence and a bit of choice.
  2. Fresh produce - Packing fresh fruit becomes a bit simpler with preschoolers as you don’t have to cut up as much. This means you can easily add grapes, plums, strawberries, or peaches to your lunch bag for a preschooler to enjoy. Depending on the abilities of your preschoolers, you will want to slice up some of your produce to make it safe for them to eat. 
  3. Drinks - With a preschooler, make sure to pack drinks that they enjoy. Some options could be juice boxes, drink pouches, or their favorite beverage in a reusable bottle or sealed cup. Make sure to pack more than you think they will drink as preschoolers always seem to want more to drink. 
  4. Portable Snack Options - Items like applesauce pouches and yogurt tubes make great additions to lunch that are simple to carry and don’t require much cleanup. These are also a big help because they are usually easy for a preschooler to eat on their own. 
  5. A Special treat - Whether your preschooler likes fruit snacks, a cookie, or has a favorite fruit, adding a special treat to their lunch can bring a smile to their face. Stick with a portion size of that treat and you are sure to make them smile.

Packing lunch for elementary-aged children

When children reach the elementary school age they have are a great deal more independent. This makes packing lunches a bit simpler. Packing lunch for an elementary-aged child on the go doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, there are some simple options that they are sure to enjoy. We share a few tips below to help you out.

5 Things to Pack for Lunch for Elementary-aged Children

  1. Build your own kits - With elementary-aged children, it can be fun to have a build your own kit that you make. Things like a build your own sandwich or build your own tacos can be a great lunch that kids are sure to enjoy. Make sure items like cheese are in an insulated container with an ice pack. Adding in simple items that can be assembled can be a fun lunch option.
  2. Fresh fruit - With older children, you don’t have to worry as much about choking hazards. This means packing an apple, orange, or grapes is not a big deal at all. Add in some fresh fruit to keep kids healthy and give them something they will enjoy. 
  3. Crackers, Chips, and Pretzels - A great side item to add to lunches are crackers, chips, and pretzels. These are relatively easy for an elementary child to eat and won’t cause a large mess. If you aren’t a fan of some of these options, sliced cucumbers or carrots make a nice substitute. 
  4. Drinks - Bring along a favorite drink for elementary-aged children. Whether you go with juice, water, or something else they enjoy, having drinks on hand saves you from stopping somewhere. Use a reusable water bottle or pick up water bottles to keep in your backpack
  5. Honey Sticks or Sweet treats - Another great addition to lunch bags for elementary-aged children are honey sticks or sweet treats. Many local honey vendors will sell honey sticks and it is a nice sweet treat to add to a lunch bag. You can also add in cookies or a favorite fruit snack to bring a sweet touch to your lunch bag.

Packing lunch for food allergies

When packing a lunch for a day out with kids food allergies can complicate matters. So many of the items that are food allergy-friendly need to be refrigerated. However, there are ways to pack a delicious lunch that is food allergy safe. Packing lunch for food allergies is not only possible, but it can also be easy with a few of the tips below. Check out our tips for packing a food allergy-friendly lunch.

5 Things to Pack for Lunch for food allergies

  1. Stick to safe foods - If there are foods you already know are safe please stick to these. A day out with the kids is not the time to try new foods. Bring along options you know have already been tried and been successful for your child’s food allergies. Keeping a list of safe foods can help you to pack up an allergy-friendly lunch.
  2. Bring produce - While many foods can trigger an allergen response, most allergens are not in the produce family. That does not mean that all children will allergies can handle produce but produce tends to be a safe option. Bring along produce you know your child can safely have. This will prevent the risk of issues from allergies.
  3. Pack meat and proteins that are allergy-friendly - Adding protein to lunch can be harder when you are dealing with food allergies. This is where packing meats and proteins you know your child can handle can make a world of difference. Use an insulated bag and an ice pack to keep these cold. This will help you to be able to make a lettuce wrap or give a child proteins they are able to have.
  4. Opt for allergy-friendly pre-packaged options - Brands like Enjoy Life make allergy-friendly food options that are pre-packaged. Bringing along items like these can help your food-allergy child to not feel left out if other people are eating cookies or a treat they wish they could have.
  5. Bring allergy safety materials along - When eating on the go it is so important to bring allergy safety materials along. Items like Benadryl, wet wipes, and epi-pens can be so important to either prevent exposure or resolve an issue of exposure to an allergen while you are out. 

Packing lunch for parents

Many times parents will plan for their kids when planning a day out with the kids and forget to pack for themselves. However, it is so important for parents to pack themselves a lunch as well. While it can be tempting to just pick at everything they have in their lunch, you deserve better. Instead, add in some items you know you can enjoy that will fuel you up for your day out. Here are some tips on packing lunch for parents on a day out with kids.

5 Things to Pack for Lunch for Parents

  1. Pack sandwiches or wraps - Sandwiches and wraps are an easy option for on the go eating. Because they can be eaten with one hand, you can still take care of the needs of your child while eating your lunch. Pack sandwiches or wraps that are packed with your favorite flavors in your lunch bag.
  2. Add fresh fruits and vegetables - Fresh fruits and vegetables are always a great addition to a lunch bag. These will offer healthy energy so that you give your best to your kids while out with them. Even better, items like bananas or blueberries are easy to eat on the go. Make sure to put them in an insulated lunch bag to keep them fresh. 
  3. Bring along favorite snack items - Do you have a favorite cracker or chip? Adding in a favorite snack item can be great for lunch on the go. By bagging up a portion size of your favorite snack you can enjoy something in your lunch that is sure to give you the energy you need for your day out.
  4. Pack a favorite drink - Don’t forget to pack drinks that you enjoy in your lunch bag. Staying hydrated is such an important part of any day out and having a drink you like can help with this. Whether you bring along something in a can or bottle or fill up a refillable bottle, having a drink you enjoy is so important.
  5. Bring a protein bar or snack - If you don’t plan to eat a full lunch with your children, make sure to pack a protein bar or snack that you know you will eat in a hurry. It is so important to take care of yourself when you are out and about with your kids. Having something small on hand can be so helpful.

Packing perishables in an on the go lunch

When packing lunches for a day out many people opt for non-perishable packaged options. While this can work for some, not everyone wants those options. For items like fresh fruit, baby food, and meat, you will need a plan in place. You can still bring these items along for a delicious lunch on the go. Even better, it’s not that difficult to add these items into your lunch. Here are a few tips for packing perishables in an on the go lunch.

5 Tips for packing perishables in an on the go lunch

  1. Use an insulated lunch bag - Using an insulated lunch bag will give you the ability to keep perishable items cold longer. It is very important to get a bag that will seal well and keep items cool longer. Not all bags are created equally. You want to make sure the bag you choose keeps cold air in as long as possible.
  2. Pack an ice pack - Ice packs can help to keep items cold. To make your own ice packs you can fill a plastic freezer bag with 1 cup of rubbing alcohol and 2 cups of water and freeze for at least an hour. Lay freezer bags flat when freezing them so that they take up less room in the bag when you add them in.
  3. Freeze items like yogurt and water - If you know you will be out for the day, you can easily freeze items like yogurt squeezes as they will thaw throughout the day. Frozen water bottles are another option that will keep perishable foods fresh while thawing to give you an additional drink option. Look at which options in your lunch bag can be frozen and thaw well for eating later.
  4. Get quality sealable containers - When packing perishable items, it can be tempting to throw things in a quick Ziploc bag. However, reusable containers that seal well will keep items fresh longer and hold the cold in better. Try using reusable containers that have a tight seal to avoid perishable items going bad while you are out.
  5. Don’t open containers frequently - Bag your cold items separately from snacks you plan to eat at other points in the day. This will help you to avoid letting out that cool air. Keeping cold containers sealed can help you to preserve those items. 


5 Don’ts for packing a lunch for a day out with kids

  1. Don’t pack messy foods - Messy foods can involve a great deal more cleanup and make a fun day out stressful. Skip messy foods for options that are easy to clean and won’t create a mess.
  2. Don’t pack perishable items without ice packs - Perishable items can make you sick you do not take proper protocols to keep them at an appropriate temperature. Make sure to bring a cold pack to keep these items fresh.
  3. Don’t forget the drinks - When packing lunches many people will forget to bring drinks along. Keeping the kids hydrated can be so important especially if you are outside for an extended period of time.
  4. Don’t bring items that need a great deal of prep - Prep time on the go can be frustrating. Either prep items before going out or bring items that are low prep so that you don’t get stuck with prep while you are out.
  5. Don’t pack garbage bags and cleanup items - If you are bringing disposable items in your lunch you will need to bring items that you can use to dispose of these items. It’s also important to bring items to clean up after lunch.

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