How to make school lunch prep EASY! (+ free printable planning template)

Prepping school lunches for kids doesn’t have to be a daily struggle. You can take some time once a week and prepare for the week of kid lunches with these easy steps! 


Prepping kid lunches for school every single day gets old real fast! 

Never knowing what to put in the lunch box, rushing to pack in the morning, and leaving your kitchen a disaster zone before 8 am makes school lunches for kids a dreaded evil. 

Not anymore! 

Here are my tips for making school lunch prep easy for the week! 

Make a list of go to kid favorite foods

Just like I suggest with setting up a meal planning system, taking some time at the beginning of the school year to make a list of your kids’ go to lunch box foods will make it easier on those weeks where you just don’t know what to put in those lunch boxes. 

school lunch idea list sample sheet

Have your kids involved in this – after all it is them that need to like and eat it! 

You can print my blank template here, and you can print my personal completed list here.

Invest in good  (light weight) containers

lunch prepped in plastic lightweight container

For my own prep, I usually default to glass containers, but for kids, it is far too heavy and risky to send glass containers to school. 

I have spent so much money on cheap plastic containers in fear they won’t come home. But, the cheap ones leak, don’t wash well, retain smells, and stain. 

I am a huge fan of 3 cup Rubbermaid Brilliance containers (show above). I also use silicone muffin “wrappers” to create dividers, too! 

My kid is a grazer so the bento style boxes or divided containers work well for us. The type of containers you choose is really up to you and they type of lunches you pack. 

Cut wash, chop, and prep lunch components on Sunday

Just like I do for the adults, I wash, chip and prep the components for kid lunches on Sunday too. 

This way in the mornings, my daughter can pick from a selection of grab and go options to assemble her lunch. 

prepped components of school lunches in a flatlay arrangement

This also prevents your kitchen from being hit by mess tornado every morning – all before 8 am.

Think of it like a kid friendly salad bar! 

This also makes healthy options seem appealing because they are easy and no messing around with prepping is required. 

Bonus – these prepped components are perfect mom and dad snacks for the week too!

Organize your fridge – bins are your friend

organized fridge with bins of prepped foods for kid lunches

You don’t need a Pinterest or Instagram worthy fridge, but having bins with your prepped components will:

  • keep your fridge more organized because the family isn’t digging through it looking for things.
  • help you use up what you have and what you need to prep more of – before it is a frantic morning problem. 
  • make you feel more organized and less stress. Cluttered fridge (and house) = cluttered mind. 

As a first step, get one bin and pile in all of the school lunch items. If you want to get fancy, you can divide it by fruit, veggies, and proteins – but you don’t have to! 

apples and peanut butter in bin

ps. Set up a lunch snack bin in the pantry too. This makes it easy to assemble lunch AND gets rid of bulky boxes. Win – Win.

Have the kids assemble their own lunches!

If you have a good system set up – kids have their own containers, cut up components ready and in bins where everyone knows where they are, kids are now easily enabled to assemble their own lunches! 

This is a great informal food education moment for kids too. Naturally, my kid wants to load up on all the carbs, but starting this method has led to some great quick conversations about rounded out meals and healthy foods.

Plan for dinner leftovers for lunches

Just like I do for the adults, if I know the dinner recipe is a kid fav, I will make a double recipe so that there are left overs for at least one day so I am cooking once, but prepping for dinner and the next day lunches. 

ps. quesadillas are perfect for this! 

Did I miss any awesome school lunch prep tips that you use at your house? Let me know in the comments! 

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  1. You are the best, I actually find your school lunch list very useful for anyone who runs short on time during the day, this can be useful for my post workout to ease the urge of what to eat.

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