For many moms packing school lunches is their least favorite part of the day. I know, Pinterest can make you feel like a failure for not sending off the cutest, most well balanced meals ever seen by man. But, lunches don’t have to be super cute to make them taste delicious. You can make packing lunches easy and even have a bit of fun with it with these practical lunch box tips.
In our house, we homeschool. I used to pack school lunches everyday when the kids were younger so that the transition from school to lunch back to school was easier and we didn’t have to switch gears. It really worked well. These days, we still homeschool, but there are days every week when we are on the road and school goes with us. So, I pack healthy lunch boxes for us to eat at the ice rink or on the way to gymnastics.
7 Tips for Packing School Lunch Boxes
1. Plan ahead for lunches. When cooking dinner you can make extra and separate into lunch size portions for the freezer. This will save you hassle on days you are running late. This is also a great way to save money as well. Or, print my free weekly lunch box menu planner and schedule plan all of your lunch boxes ahead of time so you don’t have to think about it at the last minute!
2. Buy reusable containers. Separated containers are a great option but you can also use silicone cupcake molds in various sizes to make your own compartments for lunches. Reusable containers are great for keeping lunches fresh and preventing messes from spills. My two favorite style boxes are:
3. Save condiment packets when your family eats out to place into lunches for easy lunch packing. If you don’t collect packages while out you can fill small containers with condiments of school lunches. Or, alternatively, you can purchase condiment packets and make your life easier. For sandwiches you can put mustard between slices of deli slices and cheese to keep bread from getting soggy.
4. Use cookie cutters to give foods fun shapes without a lot of extra work. You can find bulk packs of cookie cutter for cheap and plenty of variety. Amazon has a large selection to choose from. You can make it really fun with new themes each day. Sandwiches, tortillas, baked goods, and fruits can all be shaped for a fun lunch in no time.
5. Create a basket filled with prepacked snacks and sides for lunches. These could be zip topped bags that you pre-fill with bulk purchases of chips or crackers. Or, you can save yourself time and buy an assortment of snacks ready to toss in the lunch box. Then you can just toss them into the lunch bag and be done. You can pre-make the refrigerated parts of lunches on Sunday afternoon, as well, so they are ready to go.
6. Freeze foods that freeze and thaw well so your child’s lunch can act as it’s own ice pack. Sandwiches, yogurts, and most main dishes can be frozen fully cooked and ready to go for school lunches. Freezing drinks is another easy idea to keep lunches cold. Or use the cold packs that come with the Rubbermaid Lunch Bloxes – they work really well.
7. Plan balanced meals by ensuring your lunches each have a protein, grain, fruit or veggie, and dairy. Most schools have requirements on what must be in a packed lunch so if this is your first year call and check. Better to ask then find out when you get a bill for a meal they gave your child because they did not approve of yours. Be sure to check out my free printable list of 125+ Healthy Lunch Box Ideas! And next time you go to pack school lunches you’ll have lots of ideas.
Let me know if you have any other tips to share in the comments below!
P.S. While you’re here, check out my Easy Lunch Box Ideas for the Whole Family.
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I'm excited to share these ideas and more with you!