Packing school lunches is a “love it or hate it” chore — some parents like to get creative, while others need quick and easy options (and sometimes it’s one or the other depending on the day). We’ve rounded up some of our favorite school lunch ideas for every lunch-packing style. Happy packing!
Pack a snack lunch: Lunch doesn’t have to include a sandwich or other main course. A selection of snacks and finger foods can be just as nourishing (and easy to prepare). Get started with this guide from Milk & Honey Nutrition. She breaks down her formula for winning snack meals for kids (and adults, too!).
Have fun with bento box lunches: A perennial Pinterest favorite, creative bento box lunches can be as elaborate or simple as you want to get. You can have fun creating mealtime art, but even if you’re short on time, a few simple tools can help you add a kawaii twist to everyday foods.
If you don’t have the time or creative energy to assemble an Insta-worthy bento box, don’t worry — even simple lunches can be fun and kid-friendly! This collection of bento box lunch ideas from Eat This, Not That! is packed (pun intended) with easy-to-make, easy-to-love meals, no cookie cutters required.
School lunch meal prep: Meal prepping isn’t just for Crock Pot dinners and CrossFitters! A little bit of time once a week can help you pack lunches in a snap. Pre-slice fruits and veggies, cut cheese cubes, and organize lunch items so they’re easy to grab and go. (Tip: To keep apple slices from turning brown, soak them in salt water for about 10 minutes. Rinse and store in the fridge for days!)
Taking time to prep weekly can also help you minimize waste; rather than using single-serve packages of things like cheese and snack items, you can pre-portion them into reusable bags. Check out these ideas for kid-friendly make-ahead lunch entrees!
If you’re into planning ahead and teaching independence (while making your mornings a little easier, too), teach your kids how to pack their own healthy lunch! Even younger kids can do this for themselves when items are pre-prepped, labeled and organized the way Rachael from Easy Peazy Mealz recommends — just grab an item from each bin and voila! One school lunch, ready to go.