Simple School Lunch Ideas

posted by Andrea | 02/24/2011

Packing lunches day after day can get old — especially now that the school year is half over.

We always try to pack our lunches the night before, but even so, I often find myself dreading this task because I don’t know what to pack… and somehow the 47th PB & J sandwich just doesn’t sound good to me!

Can you relate?

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I knew I needed to do something to make lunch packing simpler, so for the past few weeks I’ve been pre-portioning a bunch of snacks at the beginning of the week to save us time and energy every night when it’s time to pack our lunches.

So far, it’s working great!

Fruits and Veggies

I’ve been using snack-size bags to divvy up different fruits and veggies so we can just grab a bag for each lunch.

I try to make the bags whenever I get home from the grocery store, and then I keep them in the produce drawer so they’re ready to go when it’s time to pack lunches.

Yogurt, Pudding, Jello, and Applesauce Cups

I’ve been making big batches of yogurt, pudding, Jello, and applesauce and then separating them out into several smaller containers that stack nicely in our fridge. {I really like these Rubbermaid containers with screw-on lids. Nothing spills!}

I also make up little bags of granola to eat with the yogurt.

Other Snacks

I try to keep lots of healthy snacks {and some unhealthy snacks!} ready to go in individual containers as well.

  • Bags of chips, crackers, and cookies
  • Bags of sliced cheese to go with the crackers
  • Bags of nuts, dried fruit, or trail mix

I know Dave’s parents would even make all their sandwiches at the beginning of the week and put them in the freezer. I haven’t tried this yet, but it would be a good time-saver.

How is it working?

I couldn’t be happier!

Now that everything is pre-portioned and ready to go, it only takes me a minute or two to quickly throw these items in our lunch bags!

I do spend about 30 minutes cutting, washing, and pre-portioning the snacks at the beginning of the week, but I feel it is time well spent since lunch packing is much less overwhelming now!

Do you have any secrets for quick and simple lunch packing?

Share them with me…please!

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20 comments

  1. mandi@itscome2this

    02/24/2011

    I have ZERO good ideas, but I love yours!! I started pre-bagging things this year (not sure what took me so long) and that could not make me happier each day to have that part done for the week!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Mandi — you make me laugh!
    Isn’t it crazy how pre-bagging a few snacks gives you a whole new outlook on lunches? I guess the simple things really do make a difference!

    [Reply]

  2. Jen

    02/24/2011

    I don’t have any good ideas but I’m stealing yours!! I’ve been making an intentional effort to pack my lunches more in an effort to save money for a down payment on a house. I buy stuff at the grocery store and then two weeks later there is a bag of soggy grapes in the fridge that I completely forgot about. I am going to do this!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay for saving money Jen!!
    Every little bit helps and I’m sure all the money you save by packing your own lunches will really add up after a few months.

    [Reply]

  3. Kim

    02/24/2011

    I’m like everyone else – I have no ideas. Lunch is the hardest meal. My poor girls eat a PB&J sandwich all the time. Plus, I have to pack them two additional snacks everyday. Thanks for your ideas.

    [Reply]

  4. anna

    02/25/2011

    Whenever I mak epizza I alwas make an additional one that I cut up in portion sizes and stick in the freezer – great for a quick lunch, SO easy and the kids love them
    …and BTW I LOVE your blog – only wish we had the coupon system here in Denmark – get all envious when I hear about all your savings and feebies ;)
    Anna

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Anna, I never thought about freezing pizza before — which is odd since I buy frozen pizza from the store!!

    This is a great idea for quick lunches…thanks!

    [Reply]

  5. Kate @ the wooden spoon

    02/25/2011

    Lots of great ideas!

    Usually when I make muffins, I bag them up and stick them in the freezer. They’re thawed by the time lunch rolls around, and we’re not forced to eat the same type of muffin day after day just to polish them off.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Good tip Kate,

    I usually freeze muffins and quick breads too — we like lots of variety around here! It’s good to know the muffins defrost by lunch. I may have to give this a try!

    [Reply]

  6. Suzanne

    02/26/2011

    This comes just in time for me, as I’ve been thinking of doing that for snacks, for at least my son, who now needs to bring snacks/lunch every day. It would help key in on healthier things too. I may just take some time Sunday to do that! Now, onto the need for ever changing sandwich ideas. That’s a tough one!

    [Reply]

  7. KmH

    02/26/2011

    I take my breakfast & lunch to work every day.. and have lots of variations.. but the one most important thing for me is to reduce the amount of baggies I use. Those baggies fill our landfills up and dont decompose which is a shame since they’re so convenient.
    I use the Rubbermaid & Ziplock hard containers to transport mine most of the time.

    I have a microwave at work too so Im able to take anything thats able to be reheated.. but some snacks or lunch ideas could be ham slices with cream cheese rolled around pickle spears or green onions.. dehydrated veggies & fruit, fruit roll-ups, home made beef jerky
    frozen yogurt will be still cold but not frozen after a couple hours in a lunch box.
    celery boats and a small container of peanut butter, cream cheese, or cheese spread mix, pinwheels (cheese or cream cheese on flour tortillas rolled & sliced).. almost any appetizer you can think of are great snacks to take along.

    [Reply]

    KimH Reply:

    I also often take an avocado and lemon to work for a mid day snack. Slice it in half, remove the seed, squirt some lemon juice on it, add salt & pepper (I keep a set at work) and just eat it out of the shell with a spoon.. Thats been a lifelong snack I learned growing up in the subtropics where they grow.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for all these great lunch and snack ideas! I will definitely have to try your avocado idea — I love avocados!

    [Reply]

  8. lauren

    02/26/2011

    Do you really ‘make’ your yogurt? If so, how does that work?

    I love all of your ideas – especially the baggies full of veggies, fruit and snacks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Lauren,
    I don’t always make yogurt…sometimes I buy it from the store {especially if it’s on sale and I have coupons}. However I have made yogurt times and it turns out just fine. It’s plain yogurt, so you’ll definitely want to add fruit, granola, honey or other flavorings to it…but it’s a great way to make yogurt without all the process chemicals like the yogurt from the store.
    If you’ve never tried it before, I would highly recommend my crock-pot recipe. It’s almost fool-proof!

    [Reply]

  9. Lauri

    03/02/2011

    I love the cute containers you used for the homemade yogurt Where did you get them.. Love your site.. It is my favorite one!! Thanks

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Lauri,
    The yogurt containers are just rubbermaid containers. They come in 4-packs and can be found at Target, Walmart, Meijer, etc.

    [Reply]

  10. Richelle VanderWal

    03/26/2011

    For the yogurt recipe, do you think you could add vanilla for vanilla yogurt?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes — for sure. That’s what we do.

    But you’ll still want to add honey or another sweetener too b/c it won’t be sweet like the vanilla yogurt from the store.

    [Reply]

  11. Alexa

    02/15/2014

    Love this idea! Does your fruit and veggies still hold up for the week? I have to pay lunches for a 2yo and myself! Anyone tried freezing the pita style bread? I just don’t like a soggy sandwich!

    [Reply]