5 Tips for Packing School Lunch

Tired of panicking in the kitchen every morning at 5:30 am? Here are 5 tips for packing school lunch that will make life easier.

1. Pack Food Your Kids Will Actually Eat

When it comes to school lunches, pack the food you know your kids will eat, not the food you would like them to eat. All it takes is one visit to a school cafeteria to realize how much perfectly good food gets thrown away. It can be very eye opening for parents.

With the goals of not wanting to waste food and wanting kids to get through the day without being hungry, the lunchbox is not where to fight food battles. While you might want your kids to eat kale, maybe a peach and some pretzels will stand a better chance in a kid’s lunch box.

2. Reduce the Packaging

In addition to how much food is wasted, it is shocking to notice how long kids take trying to get their food opened.

While the lunch aides do their best to get around and help kids open their lunch boxes, without question there are many kids who did not eat some of their food because they can’t get it open. This is one of the most important considerations while packing lunch, especially if you have younger children.

Use a Bento Box

The idea is to make it so kids only have to open an item or two. Once the lid is off of the box, they can start eating their lunch immediately.

A bento lunch box for kids can be as simple as a plastic storage container already in your cupboard. The clip lock style storage containers work well. The clip locks are easy to open and close, important for small hands.

Not only does a kid’s bento box make it easier for kids to eat their lunch, it also saves on waste and packaging. One added bonus: it makes it easy for uneaten food to return home.

3. Think Outside the (Cold Lunch) Box

Let’s face it, it is easy to run out of school lunch ideas. Many parents feel like they pack a turkey sandwich every other day. Mix it up by packing hot food.
Not only is it easy to do, it opens up almost unlimited easy lunch ideas! With a simple compact Thermos container, the lunch game changed forever.

Meatballs and sauce for lunch? Yes, please!  Leftovers? Absolutely!  Grilled cheese? You got it!

Sending a hot lunch is a game changer. It’s especially fantastic for kids who have sports or activities after school. A hot lunch makes it so easy to pack in the protein they need. And there is something comforting about a hot meal.

Use a Thermos to Pack Hot Food

Fill a Thermos with hot water for a few minutes while you prep or get ready in the morning. After sitting a few minutes, add hot food and close it up. Food stays hot– so hot that kids may need to let food cool off a bit before eating.

Note: The Thermos comes with instructions, which you want to make sure to read .

Easy Hot School Lunch Ideas

Keep a few bags of Farm Rich Homestyle Meatballs in the freezer to make packing hot lunch easy. The Meatballs are microwavable, have 11 grams of protein per serving, and are made with hearty ground beef and savory pork.

A quick pop in the microwave, and you have delicious, hot meatballs ready to pack. You can likely heat up these meatballs faster than you can make a sandwich.

Serve Farm Rich Meatballs plain or add marinara sauce or enchilada sauce and cheese. Warm the sauces in the microwave before adding them to the Thermos. A quick tip: only add hot items to the Thermos to keep the heat up and control the temperature. If you want to get more sophisticated, take a look at our meatball recipes.

Farm Rich Mozzarella Sticks are always a hot lunch hit as well! Need more ideas? Check out our product locator to find easy school lunch food in your area.

4. Prep Your Lunch Box Staples Ahead of Time

Prepping foods for lunch boxes in advance is a huge help. Sure, this takes some extra time on the weekend or after grocery shopping, but it makes putting lunches together super convenient.

If your kids eat fruits or vegetables in their school lunches, wash and prep those items in advance. Prepping may not be a super fun way to spend half an hour on a Sunday night, but you will make your mornings much less hectic.

It is a great early morning time saver to grab fruits or veggies from a large tray and pop them into the lunch boxes.

It’s not just the produce you can prepare ahead of time. Prep items like cheese sticks or yogurts in advance as well. While it doesn’t take much time to do these, the ease of having them already done is fantastic.

Preparing food ahead of time actually has two big added benefits:

  1. Having items prepped and readily available makes it easy for kids (or spouses, babysitters, whoever) to pack lunches themselves.
  2. Having healthy items such as fruits, veggies, cheeses and yogurts prepped to eat also makes that after school snack time much easier.

5. Have Your Kids Bring Home the Food They Don’t Eat

By having kids bring home their uneaten food, parents will see exactly what they ate (and how much of their food they actually finished).

This makes it possible to adjust what is being packed in their school lunch.

If a lot of food comes home, you are probably packing too much. If your kids eat every crumb, they might need a bit more to eat.  If a certain food always comes home, that might be worth rotating out.

When using a container or bento lunch box, this is so easy for kids. Kids close the container when they are done eating and put it back in their lunchbox.

If you have a child who stays after school for programs or activities, the can also snack on leftovers later in the day.

Additional Easy School Lunch Tips

Buy the Right Lunch Box

Make sure to buy a lunch box that can hold a bento or container and a Thermos. Having a lunchbox that functions well is important. If you are trying to shove things into an ill fitting lunch box, it will be frustrating every day.

Use Leftovers for School Lunch

If your kids love what you make for dinner, double the recipe and use it for lunch the next day. Here are a few that travel well: Savory Cheesy Meatball Mac & CheeseApple Butter Crockpot Meatballs, and Cheesy Pizza Casserole.