5 Creative Ways to Make Packing Lunches Easier

Packing school lunches can be pretty tedious for any mom. Not only do you have to think about what to put in your child’s lunchbox…something that is healthy for them and that they will ACTUALLY eat….but it’s sometimes a scramble to get the lunch box packed before it’s time to rush off for the bus stop or drop-off.

Feeding your family healthy meals is always at the top of your priority list, but does packing school lunch always have to be such a tiresome chore? No, it doesn’t!

With a few changes in your routine, and some organizing tips, you’ll be able to get a healthy, delicious school lunch packed everyday with little fuss…and be able to enjoy a leisurely start to the school day.

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young child sitting in front of an open lunch box at school.

>>Check out the FREE printable download at the bottom of this post!

Get your school lunch supplies

The first step in being able to quickly pack a school lunch is to make sure that you have all the necessities at hand.

That means that you have a sturdy school lunch box, containers for packing food inside the box, and a reliable ice pack that will keep everything cold until lunchtime.

While those three items are just the basics, you’d be surprised at all the great gadgets that are available for packing lunches…things that can make your life a whole lot easier.

One of my lunch-packing musts is a Thermos Funtainer. This allows you to pack warm lunches for your child without the need of a microwave to heat anything…and gives you so many more options to pack than just a sandwich!

I regularly use the Funtainer to pack my kids soup, leftover spaghetti, macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets.

>>Check out the FREE printable download at the bottom of this post!

Another great lunch-packing gadget that I love to use is a sandwich defroster and sealer. This is such a time saver for moms whose kids hate sandwiches with the crust on!

With two quick presses of this sealer, I can cut the crust off the sandwich and seal it closed. I love using this for nut butter and jelly sandwiches, which can be messy for little ones to eat.

It’s also a great money-saving tool because you can make your own sealed PB&Js at home rather than buying the pre-made ones in the freezer section at the grocery store. I don’t know about you, but my kids always wanted them after seeing other kids at school eating them, but I just couldn’t justify spending that much on simple sandwiches!

Lastly, invest in some reusable eating utensils to pack in your kids’ lunch boxes. These are great to have on hand because you can pack them in your kids’ lunch boxes to use with their soups or yogurt or other warm lunches.

And if your child accidentally throws it away, you don’t have to lose a fork or spoon from your cutlery set. It also allows you to save money on disposable silverware and saves it from going into the landfill.

Make a school lunch menu

Another time-saving tip for packing lunches is to make yourself a school lunch menu.

It’s a good idea to make a list of your child’s favorite lunch foods so that you have a collection of ideas ready to prep for lunches instead of trying to come up with something 15 minutes before the school bus arrives.

Each week, or however often you like to meal plan, jot down a few meal ideas for school lunches. Using that list, write down whatever ingredients or foods that you need from the grocery store, so that you can ensure that you have everything on hand when you are ready to pack lunches.

I try to factor in dinner leftovers into this lunch menu whenever I can, because there’s nothing better than having something already prepared in the fridge!

My kids don’t always like the exact same thing in their lunches every single week, I try to have many options that I can use. But there are always some foods that they do like to eat all the time, such as fruit, baby carrots, fruit cups, yogurt, applesauce packs, string cheese and crackers, so these things end up in my grocery cart on a weekly basis.

If you’re at a loss for packed lunch ideas, you’ll want to get a copy of my Healthy Lunch Box Ideas for Kids eBook! Not only does it contain more lunch-packing tips, but it also includes several kid-friendly lunch recipes that are packable.


Prep lunch items ahead of time

An obvious time-saving tip is preparing lunch items ahead of time.

I’ve never been a fan of packing lunches the night before, since I spend such a good amount of time preparing dinner and cleaning up the dishes at night. I’d rather pack lunches in the morning, so using some shortcuts are especially helpful.

Not only can you make most sandwiches in advance, but packing containers full of fruit or other sides is also a huge way to save precious minutes in the morning.

PB&J sandwiches made with the decruster and sealer gadget freeze well, so you could make up a big batch of them in advance and put them in the freezer. Muffins and burritos also freeze well.

Another thing to do is to wash and cut up any fresh produce items when you bring them home from the grocery store so that they are ready to be placed into lunch boxes.

Organize lunch items

Keeping your lunch foods organized in your pantry and refrigerator is one of the best ways to pack school lunches quickly.

I love to use those clear plastic organizing bins for snack foods in my refrigerator. They are great for keeping things like fruit or pudding cups, juice boxes and applesauce packs contained. It also makes it easy for my kids to see all their snacks in one place, so that they can grab them easily.

>>Check out the FREE printable download at the bottom of this post!

You can also use these same style organizing bins for your pantry. They can hold granola bars, boxes of crackers, and bags of chips.

If you keep several flavors of granola or protein bars on hand, it’s nice to take them out of their boxes and pile them into one of these bins; not only do you save space, but it’s easy to see all the flavors at once.

Clean out lunch boxes everyday

Last, but not least, one way to make packing school lunch easier is to make sure you have a clean lunch box to use each day!

When the kids get home from school, it’s easy to get distracted with homework, dinner prep and other after-school activities, but don’t forget to take the lunch boxes out of their backpacks!

Empty any containers or leftover food from the lunch box, wipe it out with a damp cloth, and put it away so that it will be ready to use the next morning.

I hope these 5 simple tips for making school lunch packing easier will be helpful for you as the new school year starts!



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