Back To School: 10 Genius Hacks for School Lunches & Morning Routines

Laura Jewett July 30, 2023

Simplify Your Mornings and Fuel Your Day

As the new school year begins, the hectic mornings and lunch preparations can easily become a daily challenge for parents and students alike. However, with a little planning and creativity, school mornings can transform into smooth, stress-free routines. In this blog post, we'll explore ten genius hacks to simplify school lunches and morning routines, making them enjoyable and productive for everyone involved.

1. Prep the Night Before

One of the most effective ways to ease the morning rush is by prepping as much as possible the night before. Lay out clothes, pack school bags, and prepare lunchboxes in advance. Having these tasks completed ahead of time will ensure a smoother start to the day and allow for a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning.

2. Create a Weekly Meal Plan

Meal planning is a game-changer for school lunches. Sit down as a family and create a weekly meal plan that includes healthy and exciting lunch options. Preparing a variety of snacks and lunch ideas in advance will help avoid last-minute decisions and the temptation of unhealthy convenience foods.
Sunday can become your secret weapon for less stressed week. Prepare versatile ingredients like cooked chicken, quinoa, or roasted veggies, which can be used in various lunchbox creations. Use airtight containers to store them, allowing for easy assembly throughout the week.

3. Involve Your Kids

Get your children involved in the lunch-making process. When kids have a say in what they eat, they're more likely to enjoy their meals and finish them at school. Encourage them to help with choosing ingredients and assembling their lunches, fostering a sense of independence and responsibility.
A DIY Lunch Station can be just the thing for kids that are ready to take on this task! Designate specific areas or shelves for different lunch components like fruits, veggies, snacks, and sandwich fillings. This setup encourages your child to be independent in preparing their lunches, promoting responsibility and good decision-making when it comes to food choices.

4. Bento Box Magic

Bento boxes are not only visually appealing but also a practical way to pack balanced and portion-controlled meals. Invest in a few bento-style lunch containers and get creative with different food combinations. Use colorful fruits, veggies, and protein sources to make lunchtime exciting and nutritious. And as a bonus, it reduces single-use plastic waste from disposable bags. See the bonus section below for great bento-box ideas!

5. Utilize Leftovers and Freeze Sandwiches and Snacks

Save time by preparing sandwiches and snacks like muffins and energy bites in bulk and freezing them individually. In the morning, simply grab what you need, and by lunchtime, they'll be perfectly thawed and ready to eat.
Turn last night's dinner into a delightful school lunch! Get creative with leftovers by repurposing them into new dishes. For instance, transform pasta into a pasta salad, use cooked chicken for a sandwich, or make rice balls with leftover rice and veggies. The possibilities are endless, and your child will appreciate the change from the typical sandwich routine. See the bonus section below for some great lunch ideas!

6. Breakfast on the Go

A nutritious breakfast is the foundation of a successful day. For mornings when time is scarce, have quick and healthy breakfast options available. Overnight oats, yogurt parfaits, chia seed pudding or grab-and-go smoothie packs can be prepared in advance, making sure no one leaves the house on an empty stomach. Plus, these quick and healthy breakfast options are not only convenient but also customizable to suit your child's taste preferences.

7. Set Up a Breakfast Station

Designate an area in your kitchen as the breakfast station, with all necessary items within easy reach. Stock it with cereal, milk, bowls, spoons, and anything else your kids typically need for breakfast. This way, they can serve themselves, promoting independence and reducing the morning workload for parents.

8. Create a Morning Checklist

To keep mornings running smoothly, create a visual checklist for your children to follow and hang it where everyone can see it. List essential tasks like brushing teeth, getting dressed, packing their lunch and their school bags. As they complete each task, they can check it off the list, instilling a sense of accomplishment and time management. Having this visual reminder can help your child stay on track and make mornings run more smoothly.

9. Establish a Morning Routine Playlist

Music can set the tone for the day and boost everyone's mood in the morning. Create a morning routine playlist with upbeat and positive songs that your family enjoys. Playing this playlist during breakfast and getting ready will create a fun and energized atmosphere.

10. Prioritize Self-Care

Lastly, ensure that everyone, parents and children alike, prioritize self-care in the morning routine. Encourage mindfulness, meditation, or a few moments of quiet reflection to set a positive tone for the day ahead.
By implementing these ten genius hacks, school lunches and morning routines will become enjoyable and stress-free experiences for the whole family. Embrace the power of preparation, creativity, and involving your kids in the process to make mornings a breeze and school lunches a delight. With a little effort and planning, you'll set the stage for successful and productive school days.

BONUS! #1 Bento Box Lunch Ideas

Creating a fun and nutritious bento box for school lunches can be a great way to keep your child excited about their midday meal. Bento boxes typically consist of various small portions of different foods. Here are some creative and balanced bento box ideas:
Remember to consider your child's dietary preferences and any potential food allergies when preparing their bento box. Aim for a balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats) and include a variety of colors and flavors to make the lunch visually appealing and enjoyable to eat.

Classic Bento

  • Sushi rolls or onigiri (rice balls) with fillings like cooked tuna, cucumber, or avocado.
  • Edamame (steamed soybeans) for a protein-packed snack.
  • Carrot and cucumber sticks for a refreshing crunch.
  • Sliced fruits like strawberries, grapes, or oranges for a sweet touch.
  • A small treat like a mochi or a piece of chocolate.

Mexican Fiesta

  • Mini chicken or bean burritos, cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • Guacamole or salsa for dipping.
  • Tortilla chips or whole-grain crackers.
  • Colorful bell pepper strips and cherry tomatoes.
  • Fresh fruit salad with a sprinkle of lime juice.

Build Your Own Sandwich

  • Mini whole-grain slider buns or pita pockets.
  • Sliced deli meat (turkey, ham, or chicken), cheese, and lettuce leaves.
  •  Sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes.
  • Hummus or a small container of peanut butter for dipping veggies.
  • Berries or apple slices for a sweet treat.

Asian Fusion

  • Teriyaki chicken skewers or tofu cubes.
  •  Steamed broccoli and snap peas.
  • Quinoa or brown rice with a drizzle of sesame oil.
  • Mandarin orange segments or lychee for a burst of flavor.
  • Fortune cookie or mango sticky rice for a dessert twist.

Italian Delight

  • Mini pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese.
  •  Meatballs or Italian sausage slices.
  • Garlic bread bites or breadsticks.
  • Grapes or sliced melon for a refreshing touch.
  • A few dark chocolate squares as a treat.

Mediterranean Mezze

  • Pita bread or whole-grain crackers.
  • Hummus and tzatziki sauce for dipping.
  • Falafel balls or grilled chicken strips.
  • Cucumber and cherry tomato salad with a lemon-herb dressing.
  • Fresh berries or a small baklava square for dessert.

BONUS #2 Healthy School Lunch Ideas

Here are some school lunch ideas that are delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare:

Sandwiches and Wraps

  • Turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-grain bread.
  • Peanut butter and banana wrap in a whole-grain tortilla.
  • Grilled chicken and avocado wrap.


  • Chicken Caesar salad with a light dressing on the side.
  • Quinoa salad with mixed vegetables and feta cheese.
  • Bean salad with corn, black beans, cherry tomatoes, and cilantro.

Pasta & Rice Dishes

  • Pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, olives, and a vinaigrette dressing.
  • Teriyaki chicken stir-fry with broccoli and carrots over brown rice.
  • Cold pesto pasta with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls.

Healthy Snacks

  • Veggie sticks (carrots, cucumber, bell peppers) with hummus.
  • Greek yogurt with granola and fresh berries.
  • Cheese cubes with whole-grain crackers.

Finger Foods

  • Mini whole-grain pita pizzas with tomato sauce, veggies, and cheese.
  • Bento box with sliced fruit, cheese, crackers, and turkey roll-ups.
  • Chicken tenders (baked instead of fried) with a side of sweet potato fries.


  • Utilize leftovers from dinner as a lunch option (e.g., grilled chicken, roasted vegetables, etc.).

Homemade Soup

  • Prepare and pack a thermos of homemade soup like tomato, chicken noodle, or vegetable soup.

Fruit Options

  • Sliced apples with a small container of peanut butter for dipping.
  • Clementines or mandarin oranges.
  • Grapes or berries (washed and ready to eat).

Drinks & Hydration

  • Water or flavored water (avoid sugary drinks).
  • 100% fruit juice (occasionally)
Variety is key to keeping lunches exciting and nutritious, so try to mix and match different foods throughout the week. Enjoy!
What is your favorite morning routine hack or school lunch idea?!

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