Are you ready for Back to School? I’ve put together a big list of all the best Lunchbox Hacks to help you prepare for Back to School! Also, don’t forget that we have a Big List of all the Best Back to School Deals happening this week, if your kids don’t go back to school for a few more weeks make sure you check back in frequently, that page is updated daily!
I’d also love for you to share your favorite Lunchbox Hacks! Just leave a comment or send me an email with your favorite tips & tricks!
I have been asked several times which Lunchboxes I recommend.Â My kids have these Lunchboxes that open and have a separate top area. I like to put the Drinks and Ice Pack in the top and then snacks in the bottom, this keeps the food separated plus they seem to be really well made lunchboxes and they have plenty of space in them.
1. Freeze Peanut Butter Sandwiches (Uncrustables)
Make and Freeze Peanut Butter Sandwiches ahead of time in a Freezer Bag. Take one out of the freezer each morning and itâ€™s thawed and ready at lunchtime. This will save you so much time each morning by having sandwiches ready to grab and go.
I found this Uncrstables Sandwich Maker a few years ago at my local grocery store. Amazon has several options here.Â
Note: I have received several comments about Peanut Butter, I know some schools do not allow this, my kids school still allows it in lunches, just not in the classroom so you may want to check with your kids school first. You can make and freeze uncrustables with other options like this WowButter from Amazon.
2. Use Saran Wrap to keep your Apples Slices Fresh
Wrap a SlicedÂ Apple back upÂ with the core using Saran Wrap. By keeping the apple core in tact you reduce the amount of air touching the surface of the apple to reduce browning. When your kids un-wrap the apple it will already be sliced and ready to eat!
3. Use Empty Bottles for Sauces
These Empty Mio Bottles make a FANTASTIC Way to store and send sauces and condiments. If your kids love things like Ranch Dressing, Italian Dressing or Ketchup then this Is a mess free option.
4. Use Drinks as Ice Packs
Freeze Capri Suns and other Juice Drinks to use as Ice Packs in Lunchboxes, this frees up space in your kids lunchboxes and also makes them lighter to carry. The drinks will thaw by lunchtime while still remaining cold and helping to keep food fresh.
5. Make a Snack Station
Create a Snack Station in your Fridge and Pantry, let your older kids make their own lunches by pulling one or 2 of each items and placing them in their lunchbox.
6. Write Secret Messages in Banana
Hereâ€™s a fun Lunchbox Treat you can use a toothpick to write a fun message in a Banana, as it starts to brown the message will be revealed.
7. Use Skewers for Meat & Cheese
An easy way to make Meat & Cheese easy for kids to eat is by placing it on a Skewer, You might check with your kids school to see if this is allowed before trying this one, some schools may have rules regarding things like skewers being included in lunches. You can also use Plastic Coffee Sticks for a less sharp option.
8. Make your own Ice Packs
You can make your own Ice Packs by using Sponges filled with water and frozen then placed in a Ziploc Bags.
9. Print out Lunch Notes at the beginning of the Month
Save yourself some time and Print & Cut Lunch Notes at the beginning of the month. There are so many different Free Printables Available, Make a bag of pre-cut notes and jokes and then you can quickly grab one each morning and add to your kids Lunchboxes. If you want to add a personal note you can turn the printable over and write something specific to each kid.
10. Pack Your Own Single Servings
Let kids help divide big bags into smaller servings to save money on lunchbox snacks. Use a Measuring Cup and Ziploc Bags to make the process quick and seamless.
11. Roll Up Anything
My kids love making their own Roll ups, Roll Up Cheese & Turkey, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Cheese, Chicken & Salsa and more! You can do this ahead of time or send the ingredients and let kids build their own.
12. Try Breakfast for Lunch
Use Whole Wheat Pancakes, Fruit & Boiled Eggs to create a fun Breakfast Themed Lunch thatâ€™s packed with protein and nutrients.
13. Find Alternate Sources of Protein
Use things like Hard Boiled Eggs, Nuts & Cheese to create a Balanced meal. Hard Boiled Eggs can be boiled and peeled at the beginning of the week then placed in individual bags to make them easy to grab and go.
14. Pack Chicken Nuggets in a Thermos
Keep Chicken Nuggets warm by cooking them in the oven then placing them in a Thermos Food Container with a paper towel at the bottom to absorb the extra moisture.
I have a detailed post on how I store Chicken Nuggets in a Thermos Here.
15. Make Cheese Stick Sushi
Wrap a Cheese stick with Meat and a Tortilla then slice it for a fun twist on a traditional sandwich.
16. Combine Peanut Butter & Snacks in one container
Save yourself a container and place veggies and pretzel sticks in a jar with the Peanut Butter or Hummus already at the bottom.
17. Send Hot Dogs in a Thermos
Cut a Hot Dog in Half and place in Hot Water inside a Thermos, You can send a Hot Dog Bun cut in half in a bag and then kids can make their own Hot Dogs at lunch time.
18. Freeze Ice inside Your Water Bottle
Some Water Bottles are hard to get ice inside, you can fill a Water Bottle ÂĽ of the way full and then lay on itâ€™s side and freeze. Then you can fill with water and the water stays cold as the ice melts.
19. Make Your Own Fruit Cups
Skip the sugary syrup and cut up your own Fruits ahead of time. Use Cookie Cutters to make fun shapes and find containers with lids to use to store these fruit cups in the fridge for the week.
20. Make your own Single Serve Macaroni Cups
You can divide a box of Macaroni & Cheese in Half and send in a Microwave Safe Container for kids to make their own lunches. My son begs for these but they are so expensive and this cuts the cost per serving in half!
I typically just measure a box and divide it in half. It’s about 1/2 Cup of Macaroni and 2 1/2 Tablespoons of the Cheese Powder and add 1 Tbsp. of Powdered Milk. You’ll want to put the Macaroni in one bag and the Powder in another bag. Then fill a Microwave Safe Container with about 1 1/2 Cups of Water. They can microwave the pasta for about 4 minutes, then stir in the cheese & milk!
21. Use Cookie Cutters to Celebrate
You can use Cookie Cutters to shape your sandwiches, fruit & cheese into fun Holiday Shapes and fun Characters. This is a great way to make lunches fun and encourage kids to eat them.
22. Make your own Lunchables
Bento Boxes and Divided Storage Containers are great for making your own Lunchables! You can even leave the space for crackers empty to keep them fresh and keep these stored in the fridge, then add a bag of Crackers in the morning before you pack it in your childâ€™s lunchbox.
You can get this set of 4 Easy Lunchboxes on Amazon! They are similar to the ones shown above.
23. Celebrate Birthdays with a â€śPresent Lunchâ€ť
Wrap Sandwiches, Cheese Sticks, Chips and more in Gift Wrap for a fun Birthday Surprise!
24. Make your Own Fruit Leather
You can make Fruit Leather from Pureed Fruit without all the added chemicals, this is a fantastic way to help keep lunches healthy and my kids eat these up.
Here’s my recipe for Strawberry Fruit Roll Ups
25. Create a Dip Tray
Things like Hummus and Peanut Butter are great additions to all kinds of Veggies and Pretzels, You can create a dip tray for a fun and easy to eat lunch.
26. Make a List of Lunches Ahead of Time
Start the year off by making a list of 12-15 different lunch ideas. Check out these ideas here, and then rotate through the list when you start feeling stuck during the year. You can also check out this list of Luncbox Snack Ideas.
I like to add my kids lunch ideas to my menu plan, Each week when Iâ€™m planning my menu I go through the School Lunch Menu and decide which days they will eat at school and what I will pack each morning. It helps me stay focused and I can make sure I grab anything I need at the store so Iâ€™m not panicking last minute.
27. Use Rolls or Hot Dog Buns to Create Sliders
You can make Mini Sandwiches that fit perfectly in Lunchboxes and are great for kids by using dinner rolls or hot dog buns cut in half.
28. Pack Ahead
Use Bento Boxes to pack lunches before the week begins, this makes it easy to grab and go each morning in 5 minutes or less!
29. Lunch Box Smoothies
Make Smoothies with Fruits & Vegetables and freeze them, they will have a great slushy feel by the time they thaw slightly at Lunchtime. This is a great way to sneak in Nutrients into your kids lunches. You can store these in Reusable Silicone Popsicle Molds so they can be eaten quickly and easily or store in a Thermos to keep cold until lunch.
30. Use Muffin Liners as Separators
Add some color to your kids lunches using Silicone Muffin Liners, these are inexpensive and easy to wash + they help keep foods separate and create additional dividers in your kids Bento Boxes.
31. Make Your Own Trail Mix
Combine your kids favorite snacks and healthy treats into a Trail Mix. Mix Nuts, Dried Fruits, Yogurt Bites and more for a fun and easy to pack lunch.
32. Use Bagel Thins to Build Pizzas
You can Bake and Freeze Mini Pizzas, then Wrap in Foil and place in your kids lunches. These are a great item to help you get out of your rut, and thereâ€™s so many options that you can include for toppings.
33. Make Dried Yogurt Bites
Create Your Own Dried Yogurt Bites using a Pastry Bag, Yogurt and a Dehydrator, these bites are a tasty treat and a great way to use Yogurt you find on sale.
34. Use Wooden Spoons for Pudding
Use Wooden Spoons for a smaller easily portable option that can be thrown away so that you donâ€™t have to worry about your kids bringing utensils back home. These also take up less space than plastic spoons and are less likely to get broken.
35. Wrap Sandwiches with a Lunch Mat
Skip the Plastic Bag and use Wax Paper Instead to create a Nice Lunch Space for your Kids to use at School, this will help keep food off the table and give them a larger germ free area to spread out their lunch.
36. Use a Cookie Cutter to make Mini Tacos
You can use Large Flour Tortillas cut with a Small Round Cookie Cutter to create Mini Tortillas, then use the Silicone Cupcake Liners to create a Build Your Own Taco Bar.