Packing lunches is perhaps one of the most dreaded parts of your week. From deciding what to pack, to making it, to ensuring that it is healthy, to keeping it fresh and secure, there is so much to think about for what should be such a simple meal!
In this article, we’re giving you ten tips to turn this most frustrating part of your week into one of the easiest. Follow these tips and making lunches will be a quick and easy routine. Eliminate the stress and pack something for your child that it is good for them and they enjoy.
Tip 1: Plan Ahead for The Week
The first tip is that planning is everything. No one likes having to scramble every single morning to have to make lunches. And it’s even more hectic when you don’t even know what you’re going to make!
Our first tip is to use a calendar to plan lunches for the whole week. This ensures that your lunches have variety, are healthy and balanced, and taste great! When it comes time to prepare, simply check your list and prep. No more confusion as to what to make each day.
Tip 2: Use Plan to Grocery Shop
Our next tip is to use your weekly calendar to grocery shop. Get all your ingredients at once, so you don’t have to run to the store every day. Take an inventory of what you have in your house already, and then check your plan to see what else you need. This way, when the time comes to make lunches, all you have to do is check your list and use the ingredients you bought!
As you can see, by doing all this work up front you are saving yourself tons of time down the road. One plan, and one grocery shop, and you are good to go!
Tip 3: Healthy Alternatives
With all the options out there all day, you can find a healthy alternative for almost anything! Lunch is a very important meal, so it’s imperative that you find a way to make it healthy. Search for a healthy alternative for each item you buy. For example, multigrain bread instead of white bread.
These little changes make a huge difference, and often it doesn’t involve sacrificing taste!
Tip 4: Buy in Bulk
When possible, buy your ingredients in bulk. Not only does this save you money, it saves you repeated trips to the store. If there’s an item that you use a lot, and doesn’t spoil easily, that’s a great candidate for buying in bulk. Look at your weekly plans, and look at your ingredients list to identify anything that you can simply buy in bulk. You’d be surprised how much time and money you actually save.
Tip 5: Include a Treat
A great idea for any kids’ lunch is to include a treat! A healthy lunch doesn’t mean they can’t have something sweet as well. Kids enjoy it, and it’s extra motivation for them to eat their meal. Just be sure it is a reasonable portion, and that they don’t overdo it. Pack something tasty but reasonably sized – like a cookie, a pudding, a granola bar, or something of this variety.
Tip 6: Don’t Forget the Fruit and Vegetables (But Make Sure It’s What They Like)
Talk to your kids and find out what they actually like in terms of fruits and vegetables. We all know they’re important to include, but if your kid isn’t going to eat it then it defeats the purpose! The easy solution is to talk to them. Include them in the process and find out what you can pack that they will eat.
This advice extends to the entire lunch-making process, but is particularly important in the tricky area of fruits and vegetables.
Tip 7: Use Dividers!
Next up is dividers. If food isn’t properly separated, you run the risk of it mixing in an undesirable way. Whether it becomes wet, moist, or crushed, you need to actually pack the lunch in an efficient way. One option is to buy containers with built in dividers so that everything stays in its proper place.
Tip 8: Insulated Box
Make sure the lunch box is insulated. Whether you want to keep your food cool, or even hot (such as in a Thermos), make sure the package you use has proper insulation. Food is always tastier at the proper temperature, and your child is sure to notice this difference as well. Many lunch boxes, containers, thermoses, and bags have proper insulation, so be sure to invest in one that gets the job done.
If it’s a particularly hot day, even consider throwing an ice pack in the box. This will keep everything cool and fresh.
Tip 9: Variety
Be sure to mix it up! Everyone likes variety, and your kid is surely no exception. One way to do this is to pack something different every day.
Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t repeat yourself, just try to rotate between at least 3 or 4 different lunches. Whether that means different types of sandwiches, different styles of food, or different cuisines altogether, try to find a few of your child’s favourites and rotate.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, just buy a few different ingredients and mix things up. Once again, your best course of action is simply to ask your child the things they like, and rotate based on that.
Tip 10: Make ‘Em The Night Before
Finally, our last tip is to make lunches the night before. Of course, it really comes down to your preference, but we find it much easier to pack our lunches the night before. There are so many things to do in the morning already that packing lunches will simply add stress.
Set aside a time each night to prepare lunches. It only takes a few minutes, and you can leave it in the fridge and pack it in the morning. If you make this into a simple routine, you’ll be surprised how much more easy-going your mornings become.
About the Author
Alissa is a resilience coach, cartoonist, and advocate for ‘connection, not perfection’. She’s dedicated to helping others find a sense of safety and belonging inside themselves so they can heal, connect, and build authentic, joyful lives.