Our Homemade Healthy On-The-Go Lunches

posted by Andrea | 01/28/2020

healthy on-the-go lunches

Our simple, healthy on-the-go lunches have been a time, money, and sanity saver for me now that we are officially out of the napping stage of life and can more easily get out of the house during the day (as opposed to just a few hours in the morning). 

The kids and I are out and about for a better part of 2 days each week (at least the kids who aren’t in school). We run errands, visit area attractions, stop at thrift stores, attend local events, and head to friends’ houses to play or hang out. 

It’s very strange for me to be away from home so much, but surprisingly, I don’t hate it! 

shopping for tile

One thing I quickly realized though, is that we need to take A LOT more food with us when we’re gone all day versus just a quick snack for morning errands. 

We had a couple days of crabby kids (and mom) because I didn’t pack enough food along. But now that I’ve learned from my mistakes, I pack healthy on-the-go lunches (a.k.a. “fast food lunches”!) for whenever we’re away from home all day. 

I usually let the kids “help” pack their own lunches too (always a big hit). They get to choose what goes inside (from my preselected options) meaning they are far more likely to actually eat the lunch!

healthy on-the-go lunches

healthy on-the-go lunches

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eating lunch on-the-go

Our On-The-Go Lunch Containers: 

Anytime I share pictures of our healthy on-the-go lunches, I get hounded with questions asking what containers I use.

We use the Preserve brand of sandwich containers. However, we don’t use them for sandwiches, but rather for our on-the-go lunches! 

The rounded corners of the Preserve containers fit 4 silicone muffin cups PERFECTLY. Plus, they are just the right size for little hands to hold on to in the car.

NOTE: These are regular-size muffin cups, NOT the mini cups.

our favorite on-the-go lunch containers

our on-the-go lunch containers

healthy on-the-go lunches

The preserve containers have tight-fitting lids, they stack really nicely, and they are very light-weight. I keep them in a small fabric cooler with a couple of ice packs to assure they stay cold while we’re out and about.

The sandwich containers and the muffin cups are dishwasher, microwave, and freezer-safe. I do choose to wash the muffin cups by hand because they aren’t “sturdy” enough to stay in one spot during a dishwasher cycle. I hate opening the dishwasher to find muffin cups filled with dirty water!

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Quick Tip for Disposable On-The-Go Lunches:

I’m not proud of it, but I do (very occasionally) buy Lunchables for the kids. I often save the little plastic trays to reuse when they need to bring a disposable lunch container. 

I load up the trays with food from home and use Glad Press’n Seal Wrap to tightly cover the top. 

NOTE: here are a bunch more uses for the amazing Glad Press’n Seal Wrap

homemade lunchables

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Our School Lunches: 

I want to clarify that the ideas above are only used for on-the-go lunches.

The kids use their Planet Box lunch containers for school lunches (read more on those in this post). The reason we don’t use Planet Boxes for our on-the-go lunches is because they are too large to fit comfortably on the kids’ laps when eating in the car.

Our Planet Boxes are still in perfect condition — even after a couple of years of daily use (and I still highly recommend them!) 

bento box lunches for school

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Why I pack our lunches: 

I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate on the benefits of packing our own healthy on-the-go lunches for days when we are out and about.

Here are just a few of the many reasons we pack our lunches at home: 

  • We save time by not making an extra stop somewhere else.
  • We save money by not going out to eat.
  • We save calories by loading up on fresh fruits and veggies instead of a burger and fries.
  • We can eat whenever we’re hungry and don’t have to find a place to stop or try to rush home again.
  • The kids absolutely LOVE eating in the car!

More Lunch Inspiration: 

How We Simplify School Lunches

Our Favorite At-Home Lunch Ideas

Simple Weekday Lunch Ideas for Mom

The tools we use to pack “low-waste lunches”

What are your favorite on-the-go lunches?

Filed under: FamilyFoodTips and ToolsChildrenTravelDaily Life

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12 comments

  1. Rhonda

    02/09/2020

    It does take some work, but it definitely is a habit of mine to take snacks almost EVERYWHERE I go, with or without kids. It’s usually whatever we have around – sandwiches (PB&J are nice because I don’t feel like I have to keep them cold), fruit, cheese, chips, granola bars – anything not needing a utensil. I like KIND bars, we always have those around.
    I also have some easy to use car trays for my kids that were purchased a few years ago. They are good for eating, or even craft or coloring time on long rides – I think I ordered them through the One Step Ahead catalog. They easily sit over their booster or car seat, with an adjustable strap for around their waist.
    I had the type of parents who always brought their lunches with them to work – so their habits rubbed off on me.
    That said, once in a while we do plan ahead to eat at a local or favorite cafe for lunch – but again, it’s usually planned ahead. πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good for you! I’m the snack queen too!
    And yes, we SOMETIMES plan ahead to eat somewhere special (especially if we have gift cards and/or BOGO coupons!)

    [Reply]

  2. Gina

    01/28/2020

    Loved this post! How many of the Preserve containers can you fit in the small fabric lunch pack that you use and linked?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Gina!
    You can fit 4 containers into the fabric cooler!

    [Reply]

  3. Amanda

    01/28/2020

    Your containers make a packed lunch look fun! Too often when I’m in town for groceries it’s just easier to hit the drive through, although I know that greasy food is not good for you or your pocketbook! πŸ™ this inspires me! Good resolution for 2020, pack lunches for day trips! πŸ˜‰ Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    packed lunches ARE fun! LOL
    And yes, this would be a great goal for 2020!

    [Reply]

  4. JJ

    01/28/2020

    We eat a lot on the go! I love the containers and need so get some! Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes — they are perfect for on the go eating!

    [Reply]

  5. Christina M

    01/28/2020

    Perfect timing. I was just looking for a good container to use for lunches for our flight to California next week! Can’t wait to give these a try. We do car lunches too, but my kids always seem to make such a mess. πŸ™

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh good — these containers will be PERFECT for you!

    Safe travels to you and your family!

    [Reply]

  6. Julia

    01/28/2020

    My littles love eating in the car too! (Really, anywhere that isn’t the kitchen table) Would you mind sharing what’s hanging from the headrest next to James? Looks like a good organizer and I’m in the market πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    exactly — anywhere but the kitchen table is “extra fun” for them πŸ™‚

    The organizer is something like this one.

    [Reply]