Fresh school lunches provide our kids with the fuel they need to get through the day. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time to prepare school lunches, but if you simplify your process with a plan in hand all you need is about an hour on the weekend. Prepping ahead of time makes your weekday mornings a little less crazy and gives you the chance to create easy school lunches your kids will look forward to.
Prep and pack those lunches with ease thanks to kitchen tools and lunch boxes from Amazon, Crate & Barrel, and The Container Store. Plus, don’t forget to check out this year’s back to school sales for some really great deals — even if school’s already started for your kiddos!
Step 1: Plan ahead
Set aside time on the weekend to prep for the week and create a weekly lunch plan. Be sure to make it before you grocery shop so you can purchase everything you need.
Are you too tired to even think about school lunches? We’ve done the work for you! Use our 30-day school lunch ideas printable that gives you everything you need including grocery lists for a month of school lunches. If you’re looking for healthy options, check out our ideas for healthy lunches printable. Print these out and put them your fridge for step-by-step guides for making lunch happen.
Step 2: Prep ahead
Take time on the weekend to prep and your mornings will be a breeze.
- Pack cookies, chips, veggies, and crackers in baggies for the week. Keep them in a box in the fridge and cupboard so anyone can easily grab and pack in the morning.
- Make freezer peanut butter and jelly sandwiches so you can freeze a week or two worth of lunches at once time.
Step 3: Involve your kids
Involve your kids in selecting their lunch boxes and talk about what foods they want to see included in their lunch. Have real food options along with their favorite snacks. This is a great opportunity to talk about balanced meals and teach them how to build a meal. Chances are their boxes will come home empty when they’ve packed their own lunch.
Think outside the box and get inspired with these ideas for building healthy school lunches.
Step 4: Use the right tools
The right tools will make school lunches easier to prepare. Think beyond the brown bag and find the best containers for what your child likes. Let the kids pick out their own lunches box for the school year but make sure you have these extras on-hand:
- A insulated container for days you want to pack something hot, like soup.
- Bento boxes make it easy to organize school lunches. Fill each space with colorful fruit, cheese, or veggies.
- Individual containers in various sizes to hold different types of snacks, dips, or spreads.
- Forks and spoons.
- Ice packs to keep things cool.
Step 5: Simple Creativity
Source: Alpha Mom
Worried about not being creative enough? No worries, just use cookie cutters to cut out shapes in cheese and bread to create a little piece of lunch of art. You can also make these ahead of time and store them in baggies. Little orange segments can be placed in a silicone cupcake holder with a strawberry to make a rose. Create yours the night before and place it in a container to hold its shape.
Check out even more ideas for school lunches that are, well, out of the box!
Step 6: Create a lunch station
Source: How Does She?
Make a school lunch creation station. This holds the all snack packs, containers, sandwiches, and more in one spot. It’s truly grab-and-go!
If you’re tight on space, fill up a box with individual snacks. This makes it easy for the kids to grab them and pack them into their lunch. Some ideas for healthy grab-and-go snacks:
- Baked chips
- Dried Fruit
- Snack bars — These easy no-bake cocoa bars are perfect. You can even stir in two scoops of protein if you want!
Check out even more ideas for simplifying your family’s morning routine!
Step 7: Add a little love note
Print out cute lunch notes or take a pad of sticky notes and write out five notes at once. Pop them into your child’s lunch to bring them a midday smile. You never know how that might encourage them on a tough day at school.
We’ve got lunch note printables you can easily tuck into your child’s lunch! Choose on of our fun pre-written messages or opt for a blank note and write your own.
Get more school lunch inspiration right here!