What To Pack? 8 Parent-Approved Lunchbox & Afterschool Snack Picks

Kid-tested, parent-approved picks to fuel your kids all day long

By Macaroni KID July 8, 2024

Ready to make school lunches and afterschool snacks a breeze this year? Macaroni KID has got you covered with our eight top finds for the lunchbox and beyond for the 2024 school year! We've gathered a fantastic selection of lunchbox and snack essentials, handpicked by moms and dads just like you. From nutritious shakes and guilt-free treats to comforting sides, crunchy snacks, and ooey-gooey treats, these products are sure to make lunchtime and afterschool snack time a highlight for your kids.

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Check out our team's lunchbox and afterschool snack faves, and get inspired by these parenting pros' creative tips to keep your little ones excited about their midday meal and afternoon treats. Now let's get packin'!

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Check out the delicious details and see why these picks are perfect for your child’s lunchbox:

Kayt's Pick: The Healthy Kids Nutrition Shake 

Else Plant-Powered Complete Nutrition ShakesKayt, a South Carolina mom, chose Else Plant-Powered Complete Nutrition Shakes because they're packed with real, whole food ingredients and none of those nasty ultra-processed ones. It's so good that it snagged the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award® for being the best in class for families. Plus, they come in super handy, ready-to-drink boxes that are perfect for lunchboxes.

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Kayt's Lunchbox Tip: Freeze the shake the night before. By lunchtime, it’ll be perfectly chilled and ready to refresh your little one!

Olga's Pick: The Perfect Healthy Crunchy Snack 

Crispy Green's Crispy Fruit snacks: Olga, a mom of two from the DC area, chooses Crispy Green's Crispy Fruit snacks for her kids' lunchboxes. These 100% freeze-dried fruit snacks are nutritious and incredibly convenient for busy families like Olga's. Packed with real fruit and no added sugar or preservatives, they offer a healthy alternative to traditional snacks. With a variety of flavors to choose from, she says they make a perfect addition to any lunchbox, providing a delicious crunch that kids love. Plus, they've been a trusted choice for two decades, promoting healthy snacking for families on the go.

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Olga's Lunchbox Tip: Mix Crispy Green's Crispy Fruit snacks with a handful of nuts and seeds for a homemade trail mix. It's a fun, healthy, and crunchy treat that adds a burst of energy to your child's day!

Noelle's Pick: The Versatile Flatbread

Joseph’s Lavash Flatbreads: Noelle, a mom of two from Worcester, shares a lunchbox fave: Joseph’s Lavash Flatbreads, a versatile flatbread that can be used for a variety of recipes, including pizzas, wraps, and rollups — all perfect for a lunchbox. With flavors like Honey Wheat, Multigrain, Flax, Oat Bran, and Whole Wheat, there's a perfect option for everyone. Noelle also loves supporting Joseph's Bakery, which like her, is Massachusetts-based! This family-owned bakery has been making fresh, authentic, and healthy breads for over 50 years. 

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Noelle's Lunchbox Tip: Create fun and healthy "banana sushi" by spreading peanut butter on Honey Wheat Lavash, placing a banana on top, and rolling it up. Slice the roll into bite-sized pieces for a delicious and nutritious snack that's perfect for school, home, or on-the-go.

Jen's Pick: The Comfort Food Side Dish

Bob Evans Single-Serve Macaroni & CheeseJen, a mom of two baseball-loving boys in West Chester, Pa., loves easy when it comes to lunch, and what's easier than Bob Evans Macaroni & Cheese? It comes in single-serve sizes, so all you have to do is just heat and eat. Made with 100% real cheese, this creamy delight is the perfect, savory lunch side dish. And, as Jen knows, life’s always better when it’s a little cheesy!

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Jen's Lunchbox Tip: Toss in a small side of chopped-up broccoli florets to mix in while heating. Instant nutrition boost and a great way to get those greens in!

Essy’s Pick: Farm Fresh Produce

Essy, a mom of two from California, makes it a priority to incorporate fruits and veggies into every meal for her daughters. She trusts Seneca Apple Chips and Libby's Vegetable Cups to provide wholesome options that her kids love. 

Seneca Apple Chips: She chooses Seneca Apple Chips because they are crafted from fresh apples grown in U.S. orchards and sliced and crisped to perfection in small batches, offering a sweet and crunchy snack bursting with real fruit goodness. 

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Libby's Vegetable Cups: These easy vegetable cups are her other favorite because they offer a convenient way to add easy nutrition to lunchboxes with options like whole-kernel corn, mixed vegetables, and sweet peas. This makes it simple for Essy to ensure her kids get their veggies, even on the go.

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Essy's Lunchbox Tips:

  • Seneca Apple Chips: Essy suggests pairing apple chips with peanut butter or almond butter for a delicious and protein-packed snack.
  • Libby's Vegetable Cups: Simply include a fork for easy snacking on the go.

Bien's Pick: The Guilt-Free Chocolate Treat

UNREAL Chocolate Snacks: Bien, a dad of three who lives in State College, Pa., picks Unreal Snacks Milk Chocolate Gems for a guilt-free treat the whole family loves. At Unreal, they make their chocolate snacks with 100% real ingredients, no artificial stuff, and way less sugar, making them a better choice for people and the planet. Even cooler? These milk chocolate gems are naturally colored with beets, radishes, turmeric, and spirulina, so you can feel good about what your kids are eating. Got picky eaters? No problem — the taste is totally kid (and kid-at-heart!) approved. 

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Bien's Lunchbox Tip: Sprinkle Unreal Snacks Milk Chocolate Gems on top of yogurt or oatmeal for a fun and delicious lunchbox surprise. It's a great way to add a touch of sweetness and a lot of smiles to your child's day!

Julie's Pick: The Nutritious and Fun Snack

Bamba Peanut Butter Puffs: Julie, an active and outdoorsy mom from Evergreen, Colo., loves including Bamba Peanut Butter Puffs for lunch. She likes that these oven-baked puffs are delicious, gluten-free, vegan, and made with only four ingredients. Each serving packs in 5g of protein, making them a nutritious choice for on-the-go days. Julie also noted she appreciates the convenience of the Family Pack available at Walmart or Target, which includes 10 individual bags, perfect for on-the-go snacking. For extra fun, the Suns-shaped Puffs are a big hit with kids!

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Julie's Lunchbox Tip: Pair Bamba Peanut Butter Puffs with apple slices for a sweet and savory snack combo that adds a boost of energy and nutrition to your child's lunch.

The Afterschool Appetite Fix

Looking for the perfect after-school snack? No matter how yummy their lunch is, our kids always seem to come home from school hungry. How to fill that bottomless pit? Here's our pick:

Anu's Pick: The Yummiest Afterschool Snack

Lily’s Toaster Grills: Grilled cheese sandwiches don't get more delicious or more easy than Lily's Toaster Grills. Anu, a mom from Manhattan, loves that these are made with simple ingredients and taste homemade, without the muss and fuss. Simply pop a Lily's Toaster Grill into a toaster for a hot, ooey-gooey cheese sandwich. It's so easy that older kids can prepare it by themselves, making it a perfect after-school snack or on those days when you're running from one activity to the next. Lily’s Toaster Grills lineup includes five delicious options: American Cheese, Cheeseburger, Cheesy Garlic Bread, Grilled Pepperoni, and Ham & Cheese. Which ones will your kids like best?

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Anu's Snack Tip: Pair Lily’s Toaster Grills with a small container of tomato soup for a classic and comforting snack that your kids will love. It's an easy way to pack a bit of extra warmth and nutrition into their day.

Elevate your lunchbox and afterschool snack game this year by trying some of our team's top picks and tips to fuel your kids all day long! Happy eating!