Sometimes life gets in the way of making fancy lunches. In fact, having the time to make any lunch at all is an amazing task in itself! This list of back to school lunch hacks will help you plan your kids’ lunches, and put together fun and interesting meals, without eating up your entire morning, or spending loads of money!
Lunch happens every day. Yes, my friends. Every. Single. Day. (It’s a cruel world, I know…) And 5 out of 7 lunches each week need to be made at 7:30 in the morning, packed into small containers and shipped off to school with my 5 year old. Now, the real victory of the day is when she comes home, I check her lunch box and she actually ate everything. Does anyone else do a small victory dance when that happens? No? Just me?
My daughter went back to school this week. Now, in my delusional mind, I had imagined myself making all of those perfect, colourful and creative lunches you see on Pinterest. You know the ones – with the My Little Ponies made from cheese, turtles made from pretzels and pudding shaped like a hippopotamus – but in our early morning rush (and lack of planning) it didn’t happen. And clearly it’s not going to happen very often, because mornings are always busier than I expect.
When I pulled out her lunch box the other day, my mind went blank. What on earth was I going to pack in her lunch!? And the same thing happened again this morning! I had food in the cupboards, dreams of making her smile when she opened up her lunch, but in our busy morning rush, trying to throw together a healthy meal that she would actually enjoy was more difficult than I expected. What’s your best tip for keeping up with school lunches?
Use a List for Ideas
When in doubt, use a list. This is a great one! Print it out, and put it up on your fridge. Seriously.
via Lil’ Luna
Banana Hot Dog
Does sending a hot dog in your kid’s lunch make you cringe? No problem! Replace the hot dog with a banana and top it with jam and peanut butter (or soy butter) instead! Brilliant!
via The Domestic Mama & The Village Cook
Send Jokes and Brain Teasers
Make your kids smile by sending them with these printable jokes and brain teasers.
via Capturing Joy
Use Cookie Cutters
Okay, you don’t have time to create a gorgeous scene from your child’s favourite TV show with all the food, but you can still make the food fun by using cookie cutters to cut out shapes from cheese, melon slices, cucumber slices and even carrots.
via Lil’ Luna
DIY Lunch Box Ice Packs
Use wet sponges to make your own easy ice packs to keep the lunch cool all day.
Make a Sandwich Face
OK, this one falls dangerously close to the I-don’t-have-time-for-that category, but I assure you, it’s pretty easy! A few quick cuts and you can send a super fun monster sandwich!
via Land O’ Moms
Dress up Those Cheese Strings
Use a Sharpie to draw a face on your cheese strings. Make them into snow men, monsters, Easter bunnies, you name it! Quick and easy!
via A Burst of First
Wrap it up on their Birthday
You won’t be doing this every day, but how fun would it be to send all the food in the lunch all wrapped up on their birthday!? It would be like a bunch of little presents!
via Happy Home Fairy
Prepare in Advance
Organize as many of the lunches as you can at the beginning of the week so all you have to do is reach into the fridge and throw it in the lunch bag.
via Delightful Order
Keep those Apples from Turning Brown
Use an elastic band to keep all the apple pieces together. It will keep those pieces from turning brown.
Use Jars for Veggies and Dip
I LOVE this idea! Save small jars and put dip (or peanut butter) in the bottom, along with veggie sticks. This is also a great way to pack snacks for road trips!
Lemon Juice for Apple Slices
Soak your apples in water and lemon juice to help keep them from going brown.
via My Mommy Style
Cut Sandwiches into Shapes
I have an elephant sandwich cookie cutter (affiliate link) that my kids LOVE. But you don’t need anything fancy. A regular cookie cutter would work too! It just makes sandwiches more fun!
Prep and Freeze Sandwiches in Advance
Did you know you can make peanut butter and jam sandwiches in advance and just freeze them? They are great when you need an instant lunch idea and they’ll defrost by lunch!
via Money Saving Mom
Make Some Easy Bug Snacks
Make your kids smile with these backyard snacks. They are pretty quick to put together and are sure to be a hit with your kids! You can get the candy eyeballs from any baking supply store or from Amazon. (affiliate link)
via Crafting Chicks
Sandwich on a Stick
I love this idea, even for grown up lunches! If your kids get tired of sandwiches over and over again, switch things up by putting everything on a skewer instead! You can also check out our other lunch skewer ideas here.
via A Latte Food
Make Your Own Lunchables
I know it’s tempting to grab a few lunchables from the store (and by all means, go for it when you are in a pinch!), but you can easily make them yourself too! It’s a fun way to switch things up!
Use Partitioned Containers
And speaking of lunchables, I use these partitioned lunch containers (affiliate link) every single day and I LOVE THEM. They are amazing! Fill up each compartment and it’s an instant lunchable, and it usually ends up being a pretty balanced meal!
Refrigerator Snack Station
I don’t know about you, but we have to include a morning and afternoon snack in the lunch each day. I have to admit, I use a lot of prepacked food for it, but it would be so helpful to organize the snacks once a week in a bin in the fridge so all you have to do is pull them out each morning!
via Real Simple
OK, OK, I know you probably aren’t going to make this, but it’s cute isn’t it!? And it doesn’t look THAT hard…
Lunch in an Ice Cube Tray
How fun would this be? Pack a little bit of everything in an ice cube tray! Then they can nibble on all sorts of fun foods at lunch!
Are you sending anything in a zip lock bag? (Grapes, goldfish, trail mix?) Paint some clothes pins as a weekend craft with your kids, add some googly eyes and antennae and clip them onto the bags during the week to make instant butterflies!
via Baked Bree
Pack Smoothies in Pouches
I love this idea! Buy some reusable snack pouches (affliate link) and fill them with a healthy smoothie! My kids LOVE eating food from pouches. I’m not sure why, but it’s always a hit!
via Mama Love
Make Your Own Rainbow Pasta
Why send boring pasta when you can dye it wonderful rainbow colours?
via The Skinny Fork
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