I've been packing school lunches for my boy for two years now. It's something that stressed me out immensely, so I did my research beforehand. After searching and searching online (Google and Pinterest are my friends) and perusing my local Wally World, I came up with the following basic how-to. It's stood the test of time (or a bajillion school lunches, anyway), and we're quite happy with our system.
Each year, I let him pick out a new lunchbox. He hasn't needed to, as they've lasted and been so great, but it's fun for him to have something fresh and new, I think. Both years he's had a Thermos brand box, and they've been fantastic. Standard size, insulated, zip-up lunchbox (or lunch bag). Like-a dis.
I chose to do kind of a bento-style method. The dishes I use are these: Great Value Large Entree Storage Containers from Walmart. They're $2 for a 4-pack, so pretty cheap, and they've worked great for us! They're easy for little hands to open without help, are the perfect size for a standard lunchbox, and have held up well to numerous (nuuuuumerous) dishwasher cycles (put on the top rack). I chose these over other kinds because I needed several; there's no way I was going to wash the same bento box over and over every blasted day. I'm far too lazy for that!
Inside these containers (to create the bento kind of idea), I use these. Silicone Cupcake Molds/Liners. They're colorful, durable, easily washable, and just $2 for the set of six. Find them in the Wilton cake area of Walmart. Look for the $2 ones; there are some nearby for twice as much.
If I need to pack something liquid or leaky (like yogurt, applesauce, ranch dressing, humus, syrup, what-have-you), I put it in an old applesauce or mandarin oranges container and top it with Cling Wrap (Press N Seal?). That stuff is magical. It. Works. Wonderfully.
I put the bento box full of goodies inside his lunchbox, stick a juice box (or Gossner's milk or Capri Sun etc) next to it and an ice pack on top. Don't forget a napkin and (if needed) a spoon! Then zip it up and send it to school!
What system do YOU use for school lunch? Any tips?? Please share! :)