Packed lunches have come a long way from the PB&J in a Rainbow Brite lunchbox that was all the rage when I was a kid. The bar is a bit higher these days—lunchboxes and the food inside them have gotten a bit fancier. My kids, Lily (age 10) and Hazel (age 4), pack their own school lunches, and I have Trader Joe’s to thank for making a bunch of convenient, mini, and crave-worthy lunchbox goodies that my kiddos actually want to pack and eat. Here are five of our favorites.
Mediterranean Hummus Snack Pack with Pita Chips
This is our go-to for healthy protein, which also happens to be vegetarian. It's comes in a 2-pack and we either toss a pack right into a lunchbox, or we scoop out the hummus and crispy pita chips into a Yumbox, our favorite bento box. Either way, these always get eaten.
Mini Beef Tacos
These beef tacos are a great source of protein in a fun-to-eat mini size. While the taco shell doesn’t get super crispy, I think it's fine because they’re destined for dipping in salsa, sour cream, or guacamole—like the one we recommend right below! The packaging suggests a portion size of four tacos, but two are enough for each of my kiddos, so a box of 24—for under $6—lasts for a while.
Avocado’s Number Guacamole to Go
Both of my kids love these perfectly portioned cups of guacamole because they’re delicious, and I appreciate them because they’re so darn easy to pack. I also like that they are made with only a few ingredients—Avocados! Jalapeños! Onions and garlic!—and none of them are chemical preservatives. All you need is your chips of choice, like Trader Joe’s Organic Corn Chip Dippers, and feel free to call it a complete meal.
Teeny Tiny Cukes and Tomatoes
What is it about mini vegetables that makes them so much more appealing to kids? I guess it’s a matter of scale and I’m grateful for them. TJ’s sells Teeny Tiny Cukes (cucumbers) and Sprinkles (tomatoes), both of which are great for snacking and ideal for lunchboxes.
Sea Salt Brownie Bites
According to my kids, lunch without a sweet treat is unacceptable. So I make sure to have Trader Joe’s Sea Salt Brownie Bites on hand. They are cut into eight bite-sized pieces, so we can get four days of lunchbox sweet treats for two kids out of a $2.99-pack.