Yay for the start of school! When my daughter began preschool two years ago, we would send lunch everyday due to the half-day program and no proper cafeteria for lunchtime for those that stayed after the program. After two years, I feel like I've got the routine down! So this year, my daughter has begun Kindergarten (big stuff!) and now has the choice between school lunches (I know what you're thinking, but her private school lunch choices are actually great!) and taking her lunch. I'm not really sure which one we'll do more than the other, but I still love sending her lunch with her. I like knowing how much she's eaten that day and let's face it, the control of what she eats. Ha! She's always had friends in her classroom with peanut allergies so her lunches are always nut-free. In conversation, other moms and I have discussed what we send and how to easily pack lunches. So I thought I share here in case it's helpful to any of you!

I don't know about you, but at one point, I was practically feeding the ziplock monster at the dump from packing a lunch for Elaina. I felt funny sending two pieces of cucumber and carrots in a whole snack bag. We went through 200 snack ziplocks like they were flying out of the box. It's not the money, because they're like $2 a box. It's the waste! Yuck! So I finally invested in a stainless steel bento lunchbox. When Elaina went to Grandma's house, we sent her with a plastic bento full of food for the refrigerator, but there weren't enough compartments and there was no way to cool the box because it didn't fit in a lunchbox. So we used ziplocks even then. 

I found this great box on Amazon (LunchBots brand) in the $30-40 range after passing on the similar Pottery Barn bento with lunchbox. We didn't need another lunchbox tote so I didn't feel the need to drop $50 on one.  I thought $30 was a little pricey but being that we went through $4 in snack baggies, I figured eventually it would pay for itself. And it did! Our stainless steel box is still going strong two years later. And we're not dumping ziplocks every day. (I realize that me as one person not using as many ziplocks may not make a difference. But I still felt wasteful using them.) 

Lunch packing routine changed slightly after the first few weeks, but it's so easy! And super fast when you plan ahead. I thought I'd share in case anyone needed ideas. We had been packing 2-3 weeks worth of food in ziplocks and storing them in bins in the refrigerator. That made it super easy to grab them, pack her lunch and go. The baggies are really the only downfall to that. And it didn't really make lunch time easier for Elaina - my little pokey eater. Now, I've got tried and true foods that I know will fill her up and I can buy her lunch groceries once every two weeks as most of them will last that long!

Elaina's typical lunch consists of:
Sliced lunch meat/chicken/or leftover meat from dinner - occasionally a sandwich
Grapes (always) and a second or third fruit (something in season)
Carrots and Cucumbers, sometimes Broccoli (which I cut up and store in containers once every two weeks)
Cheese - Usually mozzarella string cheese or cheese cubes
Cheddar Bunnies snack crackers or Veggie Straws
Dannon Simply Yogurt Smoothies (or we like the Simply Strawberry Yoplait Yogurts typically)
Mini box of raisins - Or other dried/freeze-dried fruit
And lastly, I throw in a boiled egg most days and something leftover that she enjoyed at dinner the previous night. 
Then she gets a pouch of water thrown in the lunch box. 

And here it is all cozy and ready to eat!
Oh, and her extra was the previous nights French Toast! :) She loved it! 

So here's what we buy:

And it's stored like this: