Tired of trying to figure out what to send in your child’s lunchbox every day for an entire school year? Use this free printable school lunch planner to help you plan a week or month’s worth of school lunches and free up some mental space for everything else you need to do.
If part of your morning routine is yelling down the hall and asking your kids, “What do you want in your lunch today?” – You’re doing it all wrong!
As a busy mom, the last thing you have time for is coming up with last-minute school lunch ideas.
Instead, you need a system that makes the process fast and easy, so you can all get out the door on time.
That’s where a school lunch planner comes in handy! And you’re in luck because I’m sharing my favorite one with you today (for free!)
Included in the planner are a few tools that are going to take the stress out of planning school lunches for your kids:
- A list of healthy (and kid-friendly) school lunch ideas.
- Weekly school lunch planner
- Monthly menu planner
- School lunch grocery shopping list
- And more!
How to use the school lunch planner
If you have one child, the process is pretty simple. You can sit down with them and either use the school meal ideas straight from the planner, or you can print out the blank “My Favorite Lunch Menu Ideas” page and brainstorm their favorites for each category.
If you have multiple children, you can do this as a group activity or you can give a copy to each child and have them fill in their choices, then create a master list of meal ideas from everyone’s responses.
Once you know you have a list of school lunch ideas that everyone likes, the rest is easy.
From there you can use the weekly or monthly menu planner to plug in what will be included in their lunch bag each day.
This allows you to easily fill in the grocery shopping list so you know exactly what you need to buy for that week’s lunches.
It’s also an easy way for the kids to see what is for lunch each day – just post your school lunch menu on the fridge where the kids can see.
School Meal Planning Tips
If you know me, you know that I am all about making everything as easy as possible, so before we move on to the list of school lunch ideas, I want to share a few tips to make planning school lunches even easier:
- Prep fruits and veggies ahead of time. This is a great way to delegate some responsibility to the children and get them helping in the kitchen. Plus, the more children help to prepare their food the more likely they are to eat it.
- Buy pre-packaged fruits and veggies if your budget allows. I know this one might be a little controversial, but hear me out. I know that individual packs are more expensive, but for some of us, the convenience is worth the price. It saves a ton of time and for some moms, that makes all the difference in the world – plus the kids can quickly toss them into their lunches all by themselves.
- Prep the main lunch entree in bulk. Instead of prepping everything the morning of, use your weekends to make lunch entrees in bulk. DIY Freezer Uncrustables, spaghetti, casseroles, and soups can all be made ahead of time which will save you a ton of time in the morning.
- Serve the same thing all week. This might seem crazy to some of you, but it works in my house and makes packing school lunches so much easier. Instead of planning a different menu for each day, I plan for an entire week at a time. I do the same thing for the lunches that I take to work for myself (which is also a school lunch, since I am a teacher LOL). It makes the entire process, especially grocery shopping, so simple. Plus the kids are always excited to see what they get to have next week.
- Double your dinner recipe. Instead of making something new for lunch in the morning, just send leftovers from the night before. Simply double your dinner recipes and you should have plenty to send in lunchboxes the next day.
Looking for the free printable school lunch planner? It’s at the bottom of this post!
School Lunch Menu Ideas for Kids
One of the hardest parts of packing a school lunch is trying to decide what to put it in. If your kids have been stuck eating the same thing day after day, you’ll love these quick and easy lunchbox ideas (and so will they).
School Lunch Entrees (Main Dish)
PEANUT BUTTER (OR NUT BUTTER ALTERNATIVE) AND JELLY
LASAGNA ROLLS + SALAD
VEGGIES + HUMMUS + PITA
PESTO PASTA + MEATBALLS
MACARONI + CHEESE CUPS
MINI PANCAKES + BACON + EGG
EGG + AVOCADO SANDWICH
CHICKEN FRIED RICE
EGG SALAD SANDWICH
TURKEY + LETTUCE WRAPS
GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH
SALAMI + CHEESE + CRACKERS
CHICKEN + APPLE PANINI
AVOCADO + BACON CROISSANT SANDWICH
Fruit and Vegetables
CUTIES (MANDARIN ORANGES)
CRACKERS + DIP
More Back to School Ideas:
There you have it mama! Tons of quick and healthy lunch ideas for the school season. My hope is that this school lunch box planner will make save time and make your life easier. Maybe your kids will even be willing to try some new school lunch ideas when they get to plan their own school lunch menu. This can also serve as a stepping stone to help them learn how to pack their own lunches all by themselves.
You can also get my Simple Back To School Checklist Here!