Back-to-school lunchbox hacks for busy families

Mood Food happy
Hello, 2022!

We hope that a happy, healthy year awaits you and your family as you step into the next 365 days - and a brand new school term. Yup! It’s back to books, bags, breaktimes, busyness, big lessons, and everything in between. So your young ones will be needing some brain-boosting lunchboxes filled with goodness to help them fuel up, focus and thrive at school.  

We recently shared a blog about the ‘lunchbox big 6’ with awesome tips on how to send your kids off to school with balanced, nutrient-rich lunchboxes. It also includes a handy weekly meal planner and a convenient list of food essentials per food group to help make shopping and re-stocking your stores super easy - so be sure to check out those great resources and stick them on the fridge!

For this blog though, our aims are simple - to help you:
  • save time
  • sidestep challenges
  • select better snack options
  • serve healthy AND fun lunches
We understand that most of the time, lunchbox prep seems to fall to moms to handle. But with these handy hacks, there’s no reason why kids can’t take the reins on putting together their school snacks during the week.

Here are some great tips and tricks for lunchbox prep

1. Save time

We all know how things go when you’re low on time and on the back foot with snack planning. It happens, it’s ok! This year, if you’re wanting to get better at snack prep, it really comes down to good planning and being organised.

These time-saving hacks will help you stay on track with lunchbox snacks. 

Meal plan

Having a written lunchbox plan that you compile in advance is key to stress-free lunchbox planning. It helps to actually do this together with your main family meal planner, so you can see when you can expect leftovers and work those into school lunches. Anyone who swears by meal planning will tell you that it’s the best way to:
  • Stick to your budget
  • Minimise food waste
  • Avoid rushing and stress
  • Make healthier food choices
  • Free up your schedule

Plan every lunch down to the last detail to make sure your kids’ lunchboxes are balanced, nutritious and interesting. We’ve compiled a handy planner and snack ideas to help you do just that, so why not print them out now?

Meal prep

Don’t be daunted… This is totally worth the time and effort, and you can do it. It just takes practice until it becomes a habit. Your meal plan will guide your shopping list for the weekend and help you stick to your budget. Then you can buy everything you need for the week ahead and have it ready at home for prepping.

Here are some typically time consuming things you can do all in one go, in advance:
  • Wash and chop raw veggies and store in airtight containers in the fridge
  • Wash and chop fruit and either freeze or refrigerate in sealed containers
  • Bake batches of mini muffins on a Sunday for the week ahead
  • Make your own trail mix and portion into small, sealed grab-and-go bags
  • Mix up sauces and dips (like tzatziki or salsa) ahead of time and store in the fridge
  • Bake oatmeal cookies/crunchies or dried fruit and nut bars and store in an airtight container
  • Boil eggs ahead of time as they keep up to a week in the fridge

Then during the week, pack what you can the night before, and pop the fresh stuff into their lunchboxes in the morning. Easy peasy!

Get the kids to help

Let your littles be part of meal and snack planning - it will get them interested, invested and excited about their lunches. There are several ways to get them involved, which can even save you some time too. Kids want to feel useful and helpful, so give them the opportunity.
  • Let them fill out the weekly lunchbox planner
  • Ask them to create a shopping list for your weekly shop
  • Let them chop fruit and veggies, or measure out portions of dry snacks
  • Give them choices within the ‘big 6’ food groups
  • Let them measure out ingredients and mix cookie or muffin batter
  • And of course, let them assemble their lunchboxes the night before

2. Sidestep challenges

You might encounter a few hurdles in your healthy lunchbox quest, but most of these are easily dodged with a little hack or two. Below are just a few ideas to help:

Crunch Boxes

Most standard lunchboxes just don’t allow you to serve up the kind of variety of food you want to in a way that’s compact and convenient. Bento boxes like Crunch Boxes have lots of compartments that can make snack time fun, exciting and full of variety. They are very trendy right now, and allow you to serve up more than a boring sandwich every day. They’re also great for portion control or keeping foods separate if your kids prefer that foods don’t touch. Some boxes even allow you to keep food warm and the Crunch Boxes are 100% spill proof, so you can also pack wet products without it spilling in your child’s bag.

Cooler bags

Keeping food and drinks like smoothies, salads, cold meats, etc. nice and cool (especially in summer) is really important. A little cooler bag will keep food fresh and contained, minimising spills and leaks. It’s also super easy for kids to carry around at breaktime.


Making sure your snack cupboard is stocked throughout the month can be a challenge. Your weekly planner will really help you get a good idea of how many snacks you’ll need each week. Ordering snacks online not only saves you time, but buying in bulk can also save you money - and minimise those pesky impulse buys!

Clever hacks

There are so many other clever lunchbox hacks out there to make snack prep nice and streamlined. A good idea is to offer small portions of a variety of foods to encourage your kids to eat well and not feel overwhelmed by portion sizes. Here are a few of our favourites that you can try at home:
  • Keep apple slices from going soggy and brown by tying them back together with an elastic band
  • Keep water and juice cold by freezing a quarter of their water overnight and then topping it up in the morning - and it doubles as a handy ice pack!
  • Sneak some grated veggies like carrot, beetroot or celery into savoury muffin batter or meatballs
  • Have a dedicated snack container in the fridge reserved specifically for school lunches
  • Keep a stash of wraps or a loaf of bread in the freezer for those emergency ‘the bread’s gone off’ days

Use silicone muffin cases as nifty food separators for fruit, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, etc.

3. Snack smart

Getting your kids to snack smart needn’t be painful or a total mission. Healthy snacking can be fun and super yum too.

Here are some healthy hacks to help your kids eat well at school:
  • Fresh fruit dippers: pop a spoonful of Nutella into a small tub as a dip for fruit
  • Let your kids make their own trail mix with their favourite dried fruit, nuts, seeds, popcorn and a handful of dark chocolate chips
  • Add chopped or grated cucumber, carrot, gherkin or jalapenos into chicken mayo or tuna mayo
  • Add crushed nuts and seeds into biscuit batter or muffin batter
  • Add dips and dressings for veggies, like tomato sauce, tzatziki, ranch dressing, etc.
  • Be consistent with healthy options, and include treats as often as you like

4. Serve up some fun

It doesn’t take much to create something fun for kids - they’re cool that way. Even if you don’t think you’re particularly creative, there are some great ways to add a touch of fun to your little ones’ lunchboxes that say ‘I’m thinking of you’ and ‘have a great day’.
  • Cool shapes: there’s something about cutting food into shapes that gets a child’s attention, and can even encourage them to try something new 
  • Fun toothpicks: food picks come in all kinds of colourful shapes and characters and can really make a lunchbox come to life
  • Sandwich stamps: take sandwiches to the next level with hearts, stars, animals, and other fun shapes with special sandwich cutters
  • Special notes: a sweet handwritten note of encouragement can make a simple lunch really special for your kids, especially if they have a busy or stressful day ahead

Check out our social media pages for lots of tips and tricks to inspire your lunchboxes this year.
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