School Lunch: 3 Simple Lunches + Tips for Prepping Ahead!

school lunch packing tips

The start of a new school year comes with many added items on the to-do list including…. school lunches. When it comes to school lunches, it can be hard to know if it is best to buy lunch at school or if you should pack it.

In my opinion, packing lunches is a great way to be sure our kids are eating healthy meals throughout the day and can also be a great way to save money! Don’t get me wrong, school lunches aren’t terribly expensive but that $2 – $3 a day can add up over time. Especially when you can buy groceries to make lunches for the whole family for just over the cost that it would be for one kid to buy lunch everyday.

School Lunches: Keep it Simple & Prep Ahead!

Even though I don’t have a school-aged kiddo yet, I pack her lunch often for day trips that we go on and for when she goes to my mom’s house while I am working. I don’t have a ton of time in the mornings to spend packing lunches so I found that keeping lunches simple and prepping them ahead of time is a must!

I found that if I spend about an hour on the weekend to prep for the week ahead, packing lunches becomes as easy as pulling items from the refrigerator and putting them in the lunchboxes.

In an effort to help you tackle the school lunch struggle, I rounded up 3 easy school lunch ideas that can most certainly be prepped ahead of time. You can prep them by putting them in the containers as I did below or you can use individual baggies for things as well.

Pro Tip: Keep a little basket or drawer in your refrigerator that is dedicated for school lunch items and maybe your kids can even pack their own lunch in the morning! Now, talk about a time-saver for mom and dad!

3 Homemade School Lunch Ideas:

  1. Homemade (whole wheat) Pasta Salad with a side of fruit and trail mix. For the trail mix, I made my own with banana chips, raisins, and craisins. You can mix pretty much any dried fruits together that you would like. You can also add cheerios or other cereal of choice. Trail mix is a good one to make at home so that you avoid the added candy that many of the store-bought ones have and also because many schools are nut-free these days!
  2. Homemade Ham & Salami Lunch-Able – Add slices of your favorite cheese, whole wheat crackers and a side of fruit and this is definitely a healthier lunch option than something that is already prepared that you purchase in the store.
  3. Homemade Pizza Lunch-Able – Use 100% whole wheat sandwich skinnys as the “pizza crust” (or any hamburger or hot dog buns that you have in the house for that matter) and add pizza sauce, pepperoni, & mozzarella cheese. The kids will love it! Add a side of veggies or fruit to go with it!

School Lunch: Drinks and Snacks

We usually keep drinks simple by just drinking water. It’s the healthiest and most inexpensive option. I keep reusable water bottles filled in the refrigerator so that we have the convenience of the disposable plastic water bottles without having to spend the money on them! This water bottle is from the Dollar Tree and I love that it has the snack cup attached to it.

We do juice boxes as a “treat” drink sometimes. Other treats include fruit snacks or fruit strips. My daughter LOVES the fruit strips and I’m okay with it in moderation, especially since they are definitely a better option to reach for then candy. And at $4.99 for a box of 21 strips at ALDI, you can’t go wrong!

I hope you found this helpful! What other simple school lunch ideas do you have? Let’s all share them in the comments!

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Amanda Sharratt
Amanda is a wife and a mom. She loves coffee and everything pumpkin spice (especially together!) She is also a Financial Coach that is a spender at heart. She has found a way to balance spending and saving and she shares all the details on her personal finances + lifestyle blog at
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