Make school lunches a breeze with these ten healthy lunch packing tips.
I often hear from moms that “packing lunch takes a long time” or “I don’t have time to pack lunches.” My mantra is that it only takes 10 minutes to pack one or five lunches. In fact, if you can learn to plan your lunches in advance and do most of the prep work ahead of time.
If you are just getting started and find lunch packing overwhelming, here are ten lunch packing tips:
Make a List
Sit down and write a food plan for the week. You can browse the Internet for new ideas or find a meal plan to do the work for you.
If you often find yourself overwhelmed by finding something to pack other than a sandwich or planning lunches ahead, my 101 Packed Lunches eBook can help you simplify the “what’s for lunch” with fresh and delicious recipes made fast with minimal prep-ahead.
Shop Over the Weekend
Before the week begins, make sure to shop for everything you’ll need, based off the meal plan’s shopping list or one you’ve created. This way you’ll have everything you need to start prepping and preparing lunches ahead of time.
Wash all your Produce at Once
As soon as you get home from the store, fill your sink with water, and a produce cleaning solution (such as water and vinegar). Let the produce soak for 10 minutes, scrub, and rinse. Begin cleaning your fruits and veggies so they are cleaned and ready for when you need to pack them.
After you wash all your produce at once, prep the produce in the way it’s meant to be used. This means to chop, cut, julienne, or dice your fresh produce and refrigerate in airtight containers.
Eggs are a versatile and inexpensive way to make protein-packed lunches! They are very portable in their hard-boiled form and they also offer an infinite amount of lunch options, like these 5 Lunch Ideas with Hard-Boiled Eggs.
You can make wraps, egg salad sandwiches, or top a green salad in a couple of minutes when they are already in your fridge. If you have older kids who have bigger bellies to fill, you can throw a hard-boiled egg inside a lunch container for an extra boost.
Do you know you can use your cupcake pan to make little meatloaves, mini quiches, spaghetti nests, carrot muffins or taco cups? These are all items that bake easily and freeze very well! Bake single-serving lunch box items over the weekend, freeze and pull them out when you need a quick lunch box fix.
Assembly Line Packing
Instead of packing each lunch container individually, consider placing all of your lunch items on the counter and filling your lunch boxes assembly-line style. Whether you are making a simple lunch with deli meats, cheese, and crackers or adding baked goods, filling your containers at once can save you a lot of time. I do this often with these 5 Turkey Lunch Ideas as well as chicken salad.
Blend and Freeze
If you have smoothie fans at home, make smoothies for the week at once! Make a blender full of your favorite smoothie recipe and pour in individual plastic cups you can seal with a lid. Store in the freezer and each morning, pull a smoothie out of the freezer and pack inside an insulated lunch bag.
It will thaw to a smoothie consistency by lunch. Bonus: no ice-pack needed.
Prevent soggy cheese and warm yogurt simply by freezing them the night before. They will be thawed out by lunch, and your child won’t complain of the lunch being a soggy mess!
You’d be surprised at how many items in your fridge and pantry can be frozen!
Prep and Freeze Fruit
Fruits such as mango, pineapple, grapes, and orange slices freeze very well. I like to save prep time by sticking them in the freezer and having them ready to pack inside the lunch box. Berries also freeze well, so buy them on sale when in season and freeze for smoothies!
Getting your kids ready in the morning is stressful enough, let alone getting yourself ready! Follow these tips for less work in the mornings and take packing lunch off your morning to-do list.
Packed Lunch Ideas
Now that you know tips to keep lunch packing simple and easy, here are a few collections of my very best lunch ideas that work for both kids and adults.
School Lunch Ideas – Quick to make, easy to pack, and kid-approved!
Quick Lunch Ideas– When you only have 5 minutes to make lunch- literally.
Healthy Office Lunches– For the adults who want to pack healthy lunches they look forward to eating
No Heat Lunches– Ideal for packing to school, the office, or picnic-style, if your kids have a field trip planned.