How to plan & prep for school lunches

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Plan and prep for school (or work) lunches ahead of time and make eating healthy meals easier for you and your family.

Bananas, lunch box, water on a black surface with caption - how to plan and prep for school lunches
How to plan and prep for school lunches

Getting the kids up and ready for school by 7:30 a.m. is hard enough as it is. When you add the task of packing a healthy lunch to that list, you’re probably thinking relying on cafeteria food is a better bet. 

Don’t give up yet, because with a little planning, packing your lunch doesn’t have to be such a chore! Here’s how you can do it:

Planning a week ahead

It is always a good idea to have a running list of your family’s favorite lunches jotted down. This makes planning for the week’s lunch so much easier.

Here’s what you can do to make weekday mornings less stressful –

  • Plan what you are going to pack each day over the weekend.
  • Plan to make extras for dinner so that you have leftovers that you can pack for school or work lunch.
  • Don’t forget to shop over the weekend.
A clickable image with caption the essential school shopping list, click here for a free copy.

Prep & cook ahead of time

Things to do over the weekend

  • Make hard boiled eggs – they stay good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • Bake muffins. Make large batches of soups, chicken nuggets over the weekend – they can be frozen for up to a month.
  • Prep the ingredients as much as possible – For example, you could marinate chicken, make nut butters, chop veggies and freeze them.
  • Blend and freeze smoothies – Pull it out in the morning and pack it in an insulated lunch bag. They’ll thaw by lunch.
  • Grill your favorite veggies and refrigerate it.
  • Make a few rice dishes and curries over the weekend. They store well in the refrigerator for 3 days.

For more tips on planning & prepping for your meals ahead of time, check out this meal planning guide.

Things to do the night before

Here are a few things you can do the night before to save time in the morning. If you are not a morning person, you’ll love the extra time in the morning to catch up on your sleep.

  • Pack the leftovers from dinner into lunch boxes.
  • Fill your water bottle and keep it in the refrigerator.
  • Wipe down your lunch bag and keep it ready for the next day.
  • Pack silverware in your lunch bag.
  • Decide what lunch box containers you’ll use.
  • Pack salad in your lunch box. Put the dressing in a separate container.
  • Chop veggies, cook rice, boil eggs, etc. In short, do as much prep work you can the previous night.
  • Portion out snacks, yogurt, fruits, veggies, trail mix, nuts etc.
  • Pack any snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated in your lunch box.

Helpful resources

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