When I was a kid, my typical lunch was a paper sack containing a peanut butter sandwich and an apple — and I survived. And possibly, today’s parents are a little too consumed by gadgets and innovations that are supposed to make our lives easier, but actually just clutter up our kitchen drawers.
But some of the lunchbox innovations that have cropped up — or just grown in popularity and availability — over the last few decades now make my life easier every day, and I’m thankful for them. Here are 9 I’m loving – most of which I use regularly!
9 Innovations that Make Packing Lunches Easier and More Fun 1 of 10
Check out the 9 lunchtime helpers that I swear by:
Dishwasher-safe lunch boxes 2 of 10
Sure, I'm sometimes nostalgic about the metal lunch boxes of my youth, but I also appreciate the new Bento-style boxes (like the one pictured, from easylunchboxes.com) that can be easily tossed in the dishwasher. That way my kids' backpacks don't smell like last year's PBJ.
Lunch boxes with built-in ice packs 3 of 10
I love not having to find a separate ice pack and then make it somehow fit into the lunch box without smooshing sandwiches or grapes. Check out this 14-piece kit of dishwasher-safe containers with built-in cooling units that fit a variety of kinds of foods.
Fruit Cups 4 of 10
For some reason, when they're served up in a cup, kids will eat fruits they'd never otherwise touch. And fruit cups are ultra-convenient on those days I don't have time to slice and dice.
Apple corer and slicer 5 of 10
Sure, you could use a knife to cut that apple, but can an apple do all THIS in one quick motion? Apple corer/slicers are a bit clunky, but I'm willing to make room in the utensil drawer because they make this seemingly-endless task a breeze.
Squeezable Fruit 6 of 10
And we 80s kids thought we were lucky with our pouches of juice drink. Today's kids don't even have to chew their fruit! My kids love these slurp-able squeezy fruit packets - they're tasty and easy to eat, which gets them out on the playground faster.
"Baby" carrots 7 of 10
I'm no dummy — I know that those little rounded carrots you can buy bagged on store shelves aren't really baby carrots, but adult carrots that have been cut down and shaped into finger food. But I also can't deny the convenience factor of ready-to-go carrots that my kids love to eat. Reusable zipper bag by Neatos.com.
Stainless Steel Everything 8 of 10
When I was a kid, re-useable water bottles weren't really a "thing" — you either drank out of the water fountain or used a cup at the faucet. But portable drinks are just a fact of life for this generation, so I'm glad to have the option of stainless steel for those water bottles, like this one from Kleen Kanteen. And when it comes to containers for hot liquids like soup, stainless is much less stinky.
FunBites Shaped Food Cutter Set 9 of 10
Cheese sliced with a knife: OK. Cheese cut up into heart-shaped pieces: a hit. The FunBites food cutter set creates a variety of shapes, is easy to use, and can be quickly tossed in the dishwasher.
Strawberry Huller 10 of 10
My kids love strawberries, but aren't so fond of the leaves and stem when they accidentally get a bite. This strawberry huller from Williams-Sonoma quickly and easily takes care of the hull. It's great for lunches, but also for making preserves and pies.