What you need to pack healthy lunches for yourself (and your kids)

Nutrition

Owning the right products makes it easier to pack healthy lunches. Once you have the right products, they should last for years and are far cheaper than buying lunch out every day.

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Products to help you pack healthier lunches

Most of us would like to eat more healthily and look after our bodies, but it can be tough to know where to start. Lunch can be a particular challenge because you’re usually out of the house, and it’s much easier to make a quick sandwich than to assemble a more elaborate healthy lunch. 

However, once you have what you need to pack healthy lunches, the process becomes much simpler. With the right gear and a bit of preparation, you can easily pack nutritious lunches for yourself and any kids or other household members you make lunch for.

Healthy lunch ideas

One of the first steps to packing healthy lunches is figuring out what constitutes a healthy lunch. You should aim to include some healthy whole grains like whole-wheat bread or brown rice, some fruits and vegetables and a decent source of protein like legumes. This leaves you with plenty of leeway to pack food that you love, whether that’s leftover dal and a whole-wheat chapati or carrot sticks and hummus. Remember that it’s all about balance — everything that you put in your body doesn’t have to be perfectly nutritious. For example, it’s fine to pack a couple of cookies alongside a roasted vegetable salad and a piece of fruit. 

Healthy lunch meal prep

Packing lunches at midnight or first thing in the morning when you’re trying to get yourself ready for work and your kids ready for school is a recipe for convenience foods. Unfortunately, when you’re pressed for time, you’re much more likely to throw a PB&J and a packet of chips in your lunch bag and call it a day than to prepare a healthy salad. For further information about quality lunch bags and boxes, check out BestReviews for their in-depth buying guide.

One key to packing healthier lunches is advance preparation. You might choose to spend an hour or two on Sunday chopping up carrot and cucumber sticks, roasting vegetables, cooking brown rice and quinoa and preparing a couple of types of protein that you can throw together in various combinations for lunches throughout the week. Or you might make sure you always make extra dinner that you can eat for lunch the next day.

What you need to pack healthy lunches

LunchBots Large Cinco Stainless Steel Lunch Container

LunchBots Large Cinco Stainless Steel Lunch Container

The right lunchbox can be life-changing when it comes to packing healthy lunches. This quality stainless steel model has five compartments so you can pack a range of healthy foods, including salads, fruit and veggies. It’s not good for anything wet or saucy, but you can fit smaller leak-proof containers in the compartments.

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WeeSprout Stainless Steel Food Storage Containers

WeeSprout Stainless Steel Food Storage Containers

These small stainless steel containers are great for packing in a larger lunchbox or lunch bag to hold salad dressings, sauces or dips. There’s no reason to cut back on flavor when making a packed lunch when you can easily pack dressings and other elements to jazz up your meal.

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Adidas Excel Insulated Lunch Bag

Adidas Excel Insulated Lunch Bag

An insulated lunch bag is a winner for foods that need to stay chilled until you eat them. This one is stylish enough for kids to take to school or adults to take to work without feeling at all self-conscious. It has a large main insulated compartment and smaller bottom and front zippered compartments.

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Fit + Fresh Cool Coolers Slim Ice Packs

Fit + Fresh Cool Coolers Slim Ice Packs

On hot days or when packing foods that could more easily go bad, it’s a good idea to pack a slim ice pack with your lunch. This allows you to pack a greater range of healthy leftovers and other foods that would be tricky to keep fresh until lunch without a cool pack.

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Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Containers

Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Containers

Although fancy lunchboxes with compartments have their place, sometimes you need a simple food storage container when packing last night’s leftover chili or curry. These Rubbermaid containers come from a trusted brand and have locking lids, so you don’t need to worry about leaks. They’re microwave-safe with splatter-proof vents, ideal for foods you want to heat up at work.

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Rubbermaid Easy Find Square Food Storage Container

Rubbermaid Easy Find Square Food Storage Container

With their compact half-cup capacity, these storage containers are perfect for packing healthy foods that you might only want to eat in small quantities, like dried fruit, nuts, carrot sticks or hummus. You get six in a pack, so you can easily pack lunches for your kids and yourself.

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Thermos Stainless King Vacuum-Insulated Food Jar

Thermos Stainless King Vacuum-Insulated Food Jar

When the colder months come round, you may feel less like eating salads, raw vegetables and other quick, healthy foods. This wide-mouthed Thermos food jar lets you pack soups, stews, curries and other hot foods, keeping them warm for up to 9 hours. There’s even a handy foldable spoon that packs into the lid.

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Langsprit Premium Reusable Lunch Bags

Langsprit Premium Reusable Lunch Bags

If you choose whole-wheat bread and healthy fillings, there’s still some space for a humble sandwich as part of a healthy lunch. These reusable lunch bags are just the right size to fit a sandwich and can also hold healthy snacks like fruit and nuts. The zip closure keeps everything inside.

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Amazon Basics Reusable Silicone Baking Cups

Amazon Basics Reusable Silicone Baking Cups

You can use these silicone cupcake cases as dividers in lunchboxes or food storage containers. Each one is a great size to hold a handful of chopped fruit or vegetable or a few crackers. They’re great for keeping foods separate, so lunches look more appetizing and manageable, especially for kids.

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Bamboo Essentials Bamboo Travel Utensil Set

Bamboo Essentials Bamboo Travel Utensil Set

Healthy lunches needn’t be constrained to foods that you can eat with your hands. This bamboo cutlery set contains a knife, fork, spoon, chopsticks and straw alongside a cleaning brush for the straw and a pouch to hold everything in.

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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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