7 Make-Ahead School Lunches That Will Save Your Mornings

Adriana Velez | Aug 7, 2013 Big Kid

bento lunch box

The new school year is almost here, and guess what I'm most nervous about? Lunch. Every morning I'm slapping together those sandwiches, smearing cream cheese on a bagel, or maybe throwing some string cheese sticks and the rest of the graham crackers into a paper sack and hoping that passes for lunch. Or maybe that's just me?

Let's get some fresh ideas in there. Better yet, let's get some lunch ideas you can make the night before so your kids can just grab and go in the morning. But what to make that won't be soggy by morning? I pestered my more experienced lunch-making friends for some inspiration.

Be sure and throw in some fruit or chopped veggies with these! Try chopping large batches of carrot sticks, cucumbers, pineapple, or whatever else your kids like over the weekend. Wrap and store well so you can grab a small bunch at a time for each lunch.

make ahead lunch box ideas

  • Ham and Cheese Roll-ups


    A friend of mine uses spreadable cheese (like Boursain) to cover a slice of ham, and then rolls it all up. You could add other ingredients, like sliced, seeded cucumbers. 

  • Spinach and Tuna Wraps


    This is the same idea as the roll-ups. Spread tuna salad over a large piece of lettuce and roll it up. No soggy bread, although you could pack a bagel with this or the ham roll-up.

  • Hummus Platter


    Pack hummus in a container and then separately wrap pita bread, baby carrots, and cherry tomatoes. Your kids can then dip the bread and veggies into the hummus.

  • Cheese Plate


    Cut up some cheese slices and some apple slices and pack with whole-grain crackers. If you're worried about the apple slices browning, you can either add a little lemon juice or slice almost all the way through to the core so your kids can pull off slices from the apple.

  • Crock-Pot Soup or Chili


    For this trick, you will need a thermos -- but it's amazing how long a thermos can keep food warm. Start the soup or chili before you go to bed, and by morning it'll be ready to spoon into those thermoses.

  • Banana Muffins


    Right? Why not breakfast for lunch? If you want some protein, add some nut butter or (if you have allergies) cream cheese. Maybe use whole wheat and a little less sugar so your kids don't crash two hours later.

  • Onigiri with Canned Salmon


    Okay, this one is a bit advanced. Pick up some onigiri seaweed wrappers and wrap up some rice balls with canned salmon inside, or anything else that sounds good. Here's a recipe and directions for making onigiri. Who is now the coolest kid at school? Your kid, that's who.

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