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Lazy Mom’s School Lunch Guide

Back to school…school lunch…zzzzz. Wait – where was I? Sorry, my bad. Even though this is supposedly a blog about healthy food, the thought of making school lunch always puts me to sleep. (If I’m going to be in the kitchen, I’d much rather be carving watermelons or making a Tim Burton pie.)

Sure, there are plenty of people out there making incredible school lunches with bento boxes or cookie cutters or egg molds, but the truth is you don’t need fancy equipment or funny ideas. If your goal is just to get a healthy meal into your kids while they are away at school, you just need a few quality minutes of planning, shopping, and prep time. And you can also use no-brainer shortcuts like repackaging leftovers as a fun lunch food. So in that spirit, here’s a simple plan for those weeks when you just don’t have enough mental energy to get into the whole creative school lunch thing.

school lunch

Creative, time-consuming lunch? Nope, just last night’s burger cut into cubes!

Sample shopping list:

Selection of 3-4 relatively sturdy fruits (grapes, apples, melon, watermelon, strawberries)

Selection of 3-4 relatively sturdy vegetables (carrots, celery, lettuce, cherry tomatoes)

A brick of Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese

Good-quality whole wheat bread/tortillas/pita bread


Turkey, chicken, and/or ham for sandwiches, ground beef for burgers

Hummus (you can buy it, even though we think homemade is better and pretty darned easy)

Selection of 2-3 healthy crunchy snacks (veggie chips, whole-wheat pretzels, popcorn, whole-grain crackers)


Nut butter (if your school allows it) or sunflower butter

Couscous or other grains for making a hearty salad

Toothpicks for holding skewers together

Weekend prep jobs:

Cube fruits and cheeses. Cut carrots and celery into sticks. Cut bread/tortillas into cubes or strips. Hard-boil the eggs or cook the eggs and veggies into a frittata (which you might have for dinner anyway). Make a salad with couscous and chopped veggies (which you might have for dinner anyway). Cook burgers (which you might have for dinner anyway) and cut any leftover burgers into cubes. Did you order pizza over the weekend? Cut that into small squares too.

Now you’re ready to put it all together. Keep in mind that this plan isn’t fixed in stone; the idea is to have a bunch of pre-prepped items ready to grab and pack. Hint: For each day, pick a main course, a fruit and/or veggie selection, and a crunchy snack.

Sample Menus:

Monday: Pita squares, hummus, fruit, veggie sticks, cheese, olives

Tuesday: Cheeseburger skewers (burger skewered on a straw or stick with squares or cubes of bread, cheese, lettuce, cherry tomato), fruit, veggie chips

school lunch

Wednesday: Frittata squares, fruit, whole wheat pretzels

Thursday: Confetti couscous salad, hard-boiled egg, yogurt, crackers, fruit and veggies

Friday: Turkey or ham sandwich, fruit, veggie sticks, popcorn

And the week is done! Ideally, you’ve put in a little bit more time on the weekends so that you can put less time into school lunch during the week. Now you can spend the rest of your time doing whatever else you’d rather be doing.

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school lunch

You don’t need to spend tons of time on school lunch – check out these time-saving ideas and tips!

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6 Responses to Lazy Mom’s School Lunch Guide

  1. Dorothy at ShockinglyDelicious September 3, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    Oh yeah…YOU’RE lazy! Ha! Seriously, can you make MY lunch?

    • Jeanne September 3, 2013 at 10:04 am #

      LOL – My goal is to spend as little time as possible doing lunch each day!

  2. Amelia Winslow September 25, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    Where did you find the little Noosa yogurts? I haven’t seen the individually sized ones but those are the most convenient for lunches!

  3. Leah October 5, 2015 at 7:58 am #

    Where do you get those partition containers?

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