To some parents, lunch means happily cutting sandwiches into shapes and joyfully zipping up lunchboxes before tossing them in three separate backpacks. The need for time-saving lunchbox ideas isn’t always there.
For other families, lunch can be something more resembling a chore than a labor of love. When you have to make lunches each day (and oftentimes for more than one kid), creativity is stifled. It’s difficult to come up with new ideas day in and day out.
However, just a few creative hacks can battle the mundane and make prepping your kids’ lunches fun, fast, and easy.
Shop Time Saving Basics
In order to make school lunchbox prep simple, start with the right organization. There are a few essentials that make this prep easier.
Try Bento Lunch Boxes for the perfect solution to plastic storage bags and save money in the long run. With two smaller compartments alongside one large enough to fit a sandwich and more, you’ll be able to easily fit everything your child eats into one container.
Extra bonus? They fit perfectly into most lunchboxes!
Another favorite of our lunchbox ideas are silicone baking cups which fit nicely into your bento box. Use these as an extra divider for cheese cubes, small crackers, cut fruit, or trail mix.
Let your child make their lunch more personal by allowing them to pick out the fun colors of both the cups and the bento box.
Make a Kids’ Lunch Menu
If you’re stuck every day trying to figure out what to pack in your kids’ lunchboxes, it’s a lunchtime menu to the rescue!
Making a handy checklist of lunch choices is the most effective way to save on prep time for lunch (or any meal, for that matter). And the best part? You only have to put in the effort once and it pays off all school year long.
Your menu should contain four simple categories: fruits and vegetables, starch, dairy, and snack. Write down each category in column form. Then list a handful of food items below each category.
No need to list all of the fruits and veggies you can think of—keep it as simple as you can.
Display the menu where your kids can see it, and ask them choose what they’d like in their lunch.
For a healthier version, encourage them to pick three fruits or veggies and only one dairy or snack. This gives kids a chance to not only learn how to pack their own lunches responsibly, but it makes them more likely to eat it since the power to choose is theirs.
The best part of this method is that you can switch it up as you see fit. Make the menu your own and even create it with the kids’ help and input.
‘Twas the night before school…
Morning time is mayhem in a house full of children getting ready for school. No one wants to have to throw a lunch together last minute.
Another helpful lunchbox idea to save time on lunch prep is to make the lunches the night before.
If you want to adopt the night-prep, there’s a few things to keep in mind.
- For sandwiches, consider what you’re putting in them. If a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is on the menu, spread the peanut butter on each slice first and then the jam in the middle so the bread doesn’t get soggy.
- For sandwiches that contain lettuce, be sure to keep the lettuce in the middle of the sandwich, not touching the bread.
- Add chips in a separate container from the sandwich to avoid them getting soft.
One benefit this nighttime lunchbox idea is that the utensils that you use to prepare it can be thrown in with your dirty dinner dishes before an overnight dishwasher cycle.
Nighttime prep is one of the best ways to avoid stress in the morning and manage to give your kids fresh food the next day. And maybe, just maybe, it allows you to enjoy that hot cup of coffee for a few extra minutes.
Lunchbox Ideas That Add a Little Love
Lunchtime notes are by far the best way to add fun into your lunchbox routine. Write your child a small “thinking of you” note they can find in the middle of the day at their lunch table.
The sentiment is entirely sweet, and they can carry a little piece of you with them throughout their day.
No need to always write something fancy. A joke, an “xo”, or even a question can make them feel special. But hey, no one is stopping you if you want to write an entire letter! These small sentiments can be written on cute note cards, random scraps of paper, or even their napkin.
One mom reflected on her own mother writing her lunchtime love notes.
“My mom wrote on my napkin every day from kindergarten until I was a senior in high school. On my very last day of school senior year, the last napkin read, ‘It’s been a pleasure serving you for 13 years.’ I cried my eyes out right at the table.”
Need some help with your afternoon or evening routine?