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How to Make Lunch Packing Easy: 5 Tips for Back to School

These five simple steps can help make lunch packing easy, especially as we head back to school. Involving kids, planning meals, and sourcing durable lunch supplies are the most effective tools for eating healthy, saving time and saving money—with ease!

1. Let kids choose their favorite foods

It always helps encourage kids to eat healthy foods if they’re involved in the meal. Have your kids choose one fruit and one vegetable for each day, prep them together ahead of time, and package them with dips like hummus, nut butters or guacamole to add nutrients and make lunchtime more fun.

Don’t forget to let them choose a treat to include as well. Treats don’t have to be unhealthy—homemade muffins, trail mix,  energy bites and even cookies can be made with whole, healthy ingredients and taste great too.

2. Cook (and clean up) with your kids

It’s helpful to have a few go-to recipes on hand like hearty muffins and pasta salads that you can make ahead with your kids. Younger kids can help measure and mix ingredients, and older kids can help with more complex tasks like planning meals and making shopping lists. They all can help with grocery shopping and cleaning up. Kids are much more likely to enjoy lunches and snacks at school if they’ve been involved in the prepping and cooking process.

3. Prep and store snacks and lunches ahead of time

Even if you don’t meal prep every week, how you store leftovers from the previous night’s dinner can help make the morning lunch-packing routine less stressful. Divide leftovers into individual containers so they’re ready to take right from the fridge to the lunch bag. Also, when you get home from the store, instead of loading up the refrigerator right away, wash and cut produce so it’s easy to pack up.

Choose lunch containers that stack easily in the fridge, and use colorful lids which can be helpful to identify individual lunches when heading out the door. Prepping your own snacks and lunches also saves money otherwise spent on more expensive prepackaged options. Homemade meals also reduce waste, and kids are often very proud of this added benefit.

4. Get ideas from lunch-packing experts

We often get our inspiration and delicious recipes from food bloggers. See these Easy, Healthy Back-to-School Lunchbox Ideas from Erin Parekh, including some of her favorite lunchbox combinations. Check out the creative bentobox-style snack ideas, including charcuterie boxes and dip recipes, in Grab and Go Snack Box Ideas from Melissa’s Healthy Kitchen.

Drawing on inspiration from Korea and Mexican cuisines, White Blank Space has creative recipes perfect for kids in her Lunch Boxes section. And we love Half Baked Harvest’s easily packable snacks like Crispy Baked Parmesan Tater Tots and Whole Wheat Caramelized Blueberry Loaded Muffins.

5. Upgrade your lunchbox

Durable and functional reusable lunch containers that are simple to use and easy to clean make all the difference. Opt for containers with flexible lids for little hands to open and close. Leak-proof options are a must to keep food fresh and keep spills at bay. Clear or transparent lids are important so kids can see what’s inside. And choosing brands that offer replacement lids mean your lunchbox holds its investment, even if a lid gets lost.

Look for plastic-free options that don’t degrade with repeated use and washing. And, don’t forget about useful add-ons like removable dividers that turn a square or rectangle container into a bento box for separating foods—especially helpful for picky eaters. Also consider space-saving nesting options so that lunch supplies are easy to store and find. An organized drawer with interchangeable lids will help make lunch packing a breeze.


Photo credit: Melissa’s Healthy Kitchen.