With the right recipes for make ahead cold lunches, you’ll save a ton of cash without using up too much of your time. These recipes are perfect!
The kids are on their way out the door when you remember, again, that you didn’t get their lunches packed.
You make a mental note to check their school accounts to make sure they have enough money to buy instead.
(That’s more money down the drain.)
As you hustle through your day, you suddenly realize that it’s 1:30 and you haven’t had one break to eat anything.
So, yet again, you find yourself hitting the drive thru or cafeteria.
(It’s a little embarrassing that the guy at the counter knows you as the one who always gets a number 2 with a sweet tea, hold the tomato. But…uh, at least you’re making friends??)
The problem is that getting lunch together every day is hard!
You have to find the time to pack something.
Then you have to remember to have food on hand.
And frankly, you’re all tired of the sandwich routine.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you had lunch ready to go?
Well, maybe the right list of make ahead cold lunches would do the trick.
Here’s the key: Spend just a little time one evening or over the weekend, and you’ll have lunches for the entire week.
Let me share some ideas that don’t take forever to put together but the family will love having them on hand.
Delicious Make Ahead Cold Lunches
Finding Time For The Shopping
All of these make ahead lunches are simple enough to throw together at home…assuming you have the right ingredients!
We’re all too busy to do everything. So keep it simple!
(Or…if you’ve been looking for some extra cash, you might want to become a Shipt Shopper! Click here to learn how!)
Hard Boiled Eggs
When I know we have a busy week coming up, I put on a pot of hard boiled eggs.
It’s easy protein on the go, and the kids love this lunch option.
Have a little more time? Turn those boiled eggs into egg salad!
Use a favorite old recipe or try something new.
(How about this one that uses avocado in place of mayo?)
Muffins are easy and versatile, which makes them my go to option when I’m low on groceries.
Use whatever fruit you have fresh or in the freezer. The best part is that you can use the fruit that’s starting to get a little mushy (and you know the kids aren’t going to eat it!).
Muffins also freeze well, which makes them easy to keep on hand.
You can go for a traditional recipe with affordable ingredients, or find recipes that fit your healthier lifestyle.
There are plenty of recipe options out there!
For something interesting, make corn dog muffins. I like to use this amazing cornbread recipe. Then I just cut hot dogs into thirds and drop one piece of hot dog on top of each muffin before I bake it.
Ah, the perfect option when you’re tired of sandwiches!
Just take sandwich ingredients and roll them up in a tortilla. You can even cut them into pinwheels by slicing the roll into circles!
And suddenly everyone is a fan of sandwiches again! (Uh, I mean roll ups! haha)
Look for recipes using your favorite ingredients on Pinterest. Or try my Pickle Dip Roll Ups for something a little different!
Homemade Chicken Nuggets
If you can find it in a Lunchable, you can make it work using homemade ingredients, right?
Whip up a batch of baked homemade chicken nuggets.
And no worries if you don’t have a way to microwave them. These nuggets are delicious even cold!
By the way, don’t forget about all of those sauce packets you’ve been saving from the drive thru. Drop one of those into the lunch bag and for an extra treat!
Chicken Pasta Salad
Take some leftover chicken and cut it into cubes.
Add it to pasta salad (use a box if you like or make your own with a recipe like this).
Then divvy lunch portions into individual bowls to make them easy for grab and go.
Need another way to use up your leftover chicken?
Try these easy Cream Cheese and Chicken Taquitos! They whip up quickly, taste yummy, and give you something a little different with your lunch.
Who doesn’t love pizza? There are so many ways to use pizza in lunches.
Make a whole homemade pizza and put slices in containers for lunch all week.
Or you could take English muffins, top them with sauce, cheese, and even some toppings, and put them in the toaster oven (or regular oven) until the cheese melts.
Heck, order a cheap pizza from your favorite place (with a coupon). I’ll never tell. 😉
You’re still going to save money over buying lunch every day of the work (or school) week!
Take a cue from your favorite lunch places and put together a bowl using your favorite ingredients.
Create a salad based bowl and add toppings that range from a traditional “rabbit food” bowl (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and more), to spicy southwestern flavors (with beans and corn), to your own favorite seasonal toppings.
You can make a taco salad bowl or find your favorite combo of protein and veggies to create the best flavors.
Make a big pot of soup, stew, or chili and put it into individual bowls. Take them with you to warm up at work.
Or you can warm it in the morning and pour it into a thermos. Done!
These simple ideas for making packed lunch the night before (or even the weekend before!) will make saving money easier than ever!
Be sure to pin this post for later!
Want more tips that make packing lunches easier than ever? Check out this post!
What’s your favorite thing to pack in a lunch?