These lunch meal prep ideas are great for school days or if you’re on the go with your littles. Start using these hacks and you’ll never look back!
Packing lunches for your kiddos can be really hard! There never seems to be enough time in the mornings before school to pack lunches. Add on the fact that the kids have no clue what they want to eat and nothing sounds good to them and you have a stressful situation.
*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
If just thinking about that has you wanting to breathe into a brown paper bag, then hold the phone! We have got some GREAT ideas for you that will save you time, stress and money. We’re talking about…
LUNCH MEAL PREP IDEAS
When you start focusing on prepping your lunches ahead of time, you will make your busy school mornings so. much. easier. Woot woot! So, how do we propose that you go about doing this? Follow these great ideas and you’ll make packing lunches easier on everybody!
DO LUNCH MEAL PREP ON THE WEEKENDS
Pick a day that isn’t super busy for you, like a Sunday afternoon. Take that time to work on meal prepping whatever it is that you have for the week. If you have carrots and celery sticks for the kids to eat on, then take the time to chop and prepackage the veggies into lunch-sized portions. Grab some reusable bags and have them ready to go in your fridge when it comes time to pack lunches.
FRUIT MEAL PREP HACKS
You can also do the same for fruit! However, you have to be careful with how you go about prepping some types of fruit since it can go bad quickly once you cut into it. We all know that apples go brown fast once they’ve been cut. If your kids will eat a whole apple, try cutting one and then putting it back together it its apple shape. Wrap it in plastic wrap to keep it from oxidizing before lunch. If your kids won’t eat a whole apple, slice one up and then apply a little bit of fresh fruit preserver powder on it. It’s the best at keeping fruit from oxidizing without adding any extra taste!
PREP SNACKS AND SANDWICHES
A great way to save money is to buy foods like Goldfish or crackers in bulk and then package them yourself. It’s so much cheaper than buying the individually packaged bags and it doesn’t take very much time to prep them for the week! Store them in a special lunch spot in your pantry (like in this post) and you’ll be set!
Did you know that you can also go ahead and prep your sandwiches for the week and freeze them until you’re ready? No, we’re not joking! It’s what saves the most time for us, whether we’re trying to get kids out the door for school or we all have a busy day out of the house. We’ve made both PB&J freezer sandwiches and ham and cheese freezer sandwiches and they’ve turned out GREAT!
HAVE KIDS PACK LUNCHES AT NIGHT
This is another hack that has saved us some major time in the mornings! The night before, our kids get their lunch boxes out and they go through all of our lunch foods and pick what they want to eat the next day. We have a system in our pantry that tells them how many of each type of food to take (that you can read all about here) and they know that they also have to take veggies, fruit, and a main course from the fridge or freezer. They’ll go through and pack their non-perishables in their lunchbox at night, while making a mental note of what cold items they need to grab in the morning.
Now that you know all about how we do our lunch meal prep, you’re ready for some of our favorite lunchbox hacks. These tips have saved us so many times, so it’s time that you know about them as well!
USE THERMOS FOR WARM FOODS
Sometimes our kids like to take warm food, such as leftovers or chicken nuggets, in their lunch. The best way to do this is to put them in a thermos! We preheat the thermos by putting boiling water in it for a few minutes, then pouring it out and adding the heated food in the mornings. It does take a little bit more time than just grabbing a sandwich out of the freezer, but it’s a great tip for those mornings when your kids just really aren’t feeling a sandwich and would rather have something warm.
MAKE YOUR OWN LUNCHABLES
Do your kids love lunchables but you DON’T love paying for them? Make your own! We already talked about prepacking crackers ahead of time. It’s also really easy to cut up cheese and lunch meat ahead of time. Portion them into baggies and have them ready to go when it comes time for your kids to pack their lunches.
You can also do this for the pizza lunchables! Start by making your own pizza dough and baking a lot of tiny pizza crusts. (Freeze what you don’t need until you’re ready for it.) Using a bento-style box (or make your own using silicone muffin liners!) add the pizza crust, pizza sauce, cheese, and any other toppings, like pepperoni or ham.
DIY ICE PACKS
If your kids are like ours and they like their cold stuff to be cold, then you should try out these lunchbox DIY ice packs! Take a kitchen sponge, wet it, stick it in a baggie, and stick it in the freezer. It’s much lighter than a regular ice pack and you don’t have to worry about if they accidentally forget it at school!
On the days that your kids take a juice pouch, yogurt, or apple sauce pouch to school, you can use those as freezer packs! Keep them in the freezer until they’re ready to pack them in their lunch. They’ll keep their lunchbox cold but will thaw by the time lunch rolls around.
Okay, well there you have it. Our best lunch meal prep ideas and hacks to help you get through the school year! Do you have any tips that you swear by? Let us know in the comments!
Make sure that you check out these posts!