4 Tips for Packing School Lunches + Free Printable

by | Aug 18, 2015 | Grocery Tips, Parenting & Household Tips | 17 comments

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Ask any mom what she dislikes about the school year.  I am willing to bet that packing lunches makes her top 5.  I’m not a fan, either.

Since I don’t enjoy packing lunches, I try to make it as easy on us as possible.

4 Tips for packing easier school lunches. Plus a free printable!

With that in mind, here are my tips for packing school lunches in a quick and simple way.

Get the kids involved.

We expect our kids to pack their own lunches starting in kindergarten.  That doesn’t mean the same thing for our 5-year-old as it does for the 11-year-old.

Now that the older kids have years of practice under their belts, they don’t need much help anymore. My job is to have the groceries around here to simplify their packing.

We’ll teach our five-year-old daughter to pack her own lunch this year.  By the end of the year, she’ll know how to make a sandwich.   She’ll also know how to choose options from the other food groups to complete her meal.

Remember, parents, that we’re trying to work ourselves out of a job.

Simplify the choices.

A lunch in our home consists of a main course such as a sandwich, salad, leftovers, or other items.  Then they choose a fruit, a dairy, a junk food (or treat), and a drink.

Do it the night before.

A common complaint about making sandwiches the night before is that they would get soggy.  But my kids have never complained.

If you know complaints or wasted food are inevitable, pack everything except for sandwiches.  It will be that much less to do.  Bag up snacky foods or put them into a container the night before.  Choose and wash up your fruits.  Select your dairy and bag it up as needed.

A place for everything.

When we pack the night before, I don’t mean stick everything in the lunchbox.  Sure, if you have items that won’t go bad (like a box of raisins), you can toss those in the lunchbox ahead of time.

Otherwise, I give each child their own basket (like this one) labeled with their name for less confusion.  They put cold lunch items into that basket and leave it in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, they just dump their basket into their lunchbox and grab a thermos of ice water.  (I put together thermoses while they eat breakfast and leave them on the counter for easy grab and go.)

Make a list.

I print off my list of lunchtime ideas along with a copy of the school lunch menu.  They’re hung next to our lunch making supplies.  When they’re tired of sandwiches, they can make a different choice.  (Although some of them would eat PB&J for every meal!)

Click here to download a free printable of bag lunch ideas!

These tips for packing school lunches should help your family dread this chore a bit less.

Always try to keep it simple!

Did I miss a great tip?  Let me know!