Easy School Lunches Need Two Things: the Right Container and a Plan

Making school lunches is a chore no more with a plan and the right container.

If you are like me, the first day of school hits and I repeat over and over in my head “YAY! School is back in session! The kids are not driving me nuts anymore” That lasts all of 2 minutes. Because it hits me now: I have to make lunch for those munchkins because for one reason or another – school lunch is not an option in our family. Making school lunch is the bane of my morning. It is SUCH a chore! I have one school-aged child who will eat sandwiches – great! Easy school lunches. I have another who won’t touch sandwiches.

It’s important for me to make sure these little ones receive the right nutrition. I am not getting into a nutrition debate here, but let’s just say it is important to me that they receive a variety of foods in different colors. But ugh I have to think of things to pack for them. That was the big issue for me. Then I need to remember to keep a variety of the things they like stocked up in my pantry. I’m pretty sure they like a variety of choices instead of eating the same thing day after day.

A few years ago when my oldest was starting Kindergarten, I tried to have him just each lunch provided by the school. That lasted all of a week. His teacher called me and begged me to send his lunch from home because he hated the school lunch menus so bad. So I started sending him lunch in baggies. But my goodness, those are expensive! I saw an idea where a mom would use a hard plastic sandwich container and separate the food with cupcake liners. Great idea, but whoa those sandwich containers though: $3-4 each and not readily available. I couldn’t justify spending that much on each container with the high risk that it would not return home. So I thought of a cheaper alternative – just small, rectangular, shallow plastic containers with lids then I add cupcake liners to separate the food. I am not going through hundreds of baggies each school year. YES!

This helps with portion control – so I don’t overpack. The kids have a short amount of time to eat lunch and before I developed this method of packing lunches, there was always a lot of wasted food each day. I feel like I am pretty darn innovative for adapting these “bento lunch boxes” for my kiddos.

School Lunch Mind Map Page Layout in My Bullet Journal

Now if it would only get up before the sun rises and pack the containers for me…I guess that is where weekly meal prep comes in. *Sigh* another time, another place.

The other problem was planning the lunches. I now have two kiddos in school taking their lunches – with my middle starting kindergarten this year. Keeping ideas in check and supplies stocked would be an issue. I got even smarter this year and included a Mind Map page in my Bullet Journal so I always had a comprehensive list of lunch ideas while I am shopping.

To make a Mind Map: Start with a central idea expanding out and becomes more detailed as you go.

In this case, I started with the sketch of the school lunch and expanded outwards as in the picture below. Mind mapping has always been a favorite exercise of mine since I am so visually inclined. You can expand even further if you wanted (for instance under protein, I could have listed nuts and had another branch that listed all the types from there).

I use this technique for the family when we need dinner on the go. Usually when I am taxiing the kids to karate. Bonus: maybe now I can enjoy the structured nature of the school year because packing their lunches just got easier and my kids can focus on packing their brains full of information.

What tips and tricks do you have for packing school lunches for your kids? Leave me a comment below and let me know.

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What did I use for this post? I’ll tell you.

  • Leuchtturm1917 A5 Dotgrid
  • Papermate Flair for the color
  • Micron pens for the lines
  • Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen for the lettering – buy a bigger pack – I LOVE these pens and have made all the difference in my hand-lettering journey
  • Water brush pens for blending
  • Energel in purple (because I love it) – these are my go-to pen for general writing.
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