Lunch Box Hacks

Don’t blame the messenger, but it’s about that time when we have to think about going back to school. But instead of focusing on the stress of setting an alarm and getting out of the door before your coffee kicks in, let’s talk about some tips to navigate the chaos of the back to school transition. I’ve already shared advice based on my ten year teaching career, but today I want to talk about my biggest Achilles’ heel for school: School Lunches.

I hate packing school lunches. Seriously. I’ve designated the task to my husband for a few years, but with BOTH of my boys going to school full time this year (woo hoo!), I’m ready to take back the task. What has changed my tune? By talking with other moms, trial and error, and through my boys’ feedback I have figured out these Time and Sanity Saving School Lunch Hacks:

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Jump on the Bento Box Bandwagon 

I honestly don’t know what parents did before Bento Boxes. They make packing lunches SO EASY. With their separate compartments they guide you to pack a plethora of snacks (hello, food pyramid!) and keep packaging and other waste to a minimum. Which Bento Box reigns supreme? 

We love this Planetbox option for older kids, and Bentgo Boxes for Kindergarten and under.  Be sure to also invest in a less pricey Bento Box back up for those days when my boys forget to bring their lunch box home from school (It isn’t just my kids. Yours will do it, too. BE PREPARED).

Find a Lunch Box with TONS of Storage

While you might want to pack light so that there is less for your child to lose or carry, don’t overlook the power of lunch bag with many compartments. You want one that will fit your child’s lunch (and an ice pack) without having to smoosh everything together, as well as one that has space for a drink. I mean, no kid wants to eat a smooshed sammie or crushed up chips—am I right?!?


Now that you’ve invested in an awesome lunch and bento box, don’t forget to label EVERYTHING. Save yourself some steps (and stress) by stocking up on Mabel’s Labels. They are waterproof, stylish, and come in tons of different styles so that you can find the perfect match for your kiddo. You can check out all of the different Mabel’s Labels packages here.

Be as GREEN as Possible

As I mentioned earlier, Bento Boxes cut down on waste and so do these reusable, leak proof snack bags. Even better? These are all dishwasher friendly so all you have to do is rinse them out and put them in the top rack of the dishwasher. And don’t forget the reusable straw!

Create a Menu Together

Typically I am not one who will cater to my children’s requests when making dinner (I am not nor will ever be a short order cook), but when it comes to school lunches, I have found that including them in the menu planning is KEY. That way they don’t complain, actually eat their school lunch, and meal planning makes grocery shopping SO MUCH EASIER. We have narrowed down my kids’ favorite lunches to about seven options, so there is both variety and consistency at the same.

Prep the Night Before

School mornings are insanely chaotic. Even if you wake up before your kiddos, there’s bound to be something that messes up your schedule and leaves at least one person in tears. So pack school lunches the night before, preferably with a glass of wine and Adele playing in the background.

Use This Hot Food Hack

Have a child who prefers hot food but stumped on how to keep food warm from morning ‘til noon? Then check out this hack: Find a great, stainless steel thermos, fill it with boiling water for at least 60 seconds. Drain the thermos and then transfer the piping hot food into it. This is a perfect option for pasta, soups, and crowd favorite mac ‘n cheese.

Make it Personal

Finally, sometimes kids have a hard time at lunch. As a former school administrator and teacher I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen kids struggle with finding someone to sit with or simply just having a rough lunch hour on a bad day. So stick a little note in your child’s lunch box or use these cute little shape cutters to add some pizzazz to lunch. Sometimes just a little something extra can make all the difference to our kiddos. 

Be sure to check out these lunch box recipes to inspire you this school year and don’t forget about the power of leftovers.

Happy New School Year!


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  1. Clair Cook says

    Loving all these lunch box ideas! I have to prepare 3 lunch boxes during the school year, and I need all the help I can get haha! Loving those reusable snack bags!

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