Meal Prep Tips for School Lunches

As a working parent, it can be all too easy to get caught up in the daily hustle and bustle of life. Rushed mornings and last-minute thrown-together packed lunches to get everyone out the door might sound all too familiar. But with these meal prep tips for school lunches, your day could be off to a calmer and smoother start.

  1. Pre-Cook Proteins

Pre-cooking protein can be a super handy way to save yourself some time on the school morning dash. Proteins such as chicken, beef, tofu, and legumes can be a flavoursome basis for your child’s lunch and can be used in so many different ways.

You might want to think about writing a meal plan to consider which protein/s you’ll be cooking for the week and how you can incorporate them into your and your child’s lunches. For example, cooked proteins can be tasty sandwich fillings, used in salads, or added to grains.

  1. Make use of Muffin Tins

As a sweet treat, or a savoury snack, muffins can be incredibly versatile and can be prepped ahead of time. You’ll find an abundance of recipes online to suit your child’s taste. Look out for savoury recipes that use egg and cottage cheese, which are high in protein to support growing children. Plus, savoury muffins can be a great way of packing in veggies into your child’s diet.

  1. Lemon and Lime as Preservatives

If your child loves fruit in their lunchbox, this can also be prepared in advance. But if you’re concerned about their favourite snack turning brown before lunchtime comes around, make use of lemon and lime as preservatives. Just a squeeze of lemon or lime juice on sliced apples, bananas, pears, peaches, and nectarines will prevent them from discolouring.

  1. Grab and Go Granola Bars

Granola and cereal bars can be a delicious and convenient addition to your child’s lunchbox. But if you’re looking for a more affordable alternative as part of your meal prep, then why not consider making a batch of your own? This recipe for Fruity Granola Bars makes 12 and allows you to swap the dried fruit and seeds depending on your or your child’s preference.

  1. Leftover Remix

Leftovers for lunch might have been your child’s go-to over the summer holidays, but with term time fast approaching, you might want to think about a school lunch alternative that doesn’t require heating up.

Fortunately, leftovers can be used in an innovative way that can be suitable for your child’s school lunch. For example, you could make cucumber boats filled with leftover chicken; mix up leftover couscous or another grain with chopped vegetables and cheese; or use leftover fajita mix in a wrap.

  1. Bulk Cook Pasta

Pasta can be another brilliant lunch ingredient that can be made ahead of time. Once cooked, pasta usually lasts in the fridge between three and five days* (always be sure to check the smell and appearance of leftover foods), so can be prepared on a Sunday evening to last nearly the whole school or work week. Pasta salads can be a great choice, allowing you to add in your child’s favourite protein, vegetables, and dressing.

  1. Mason Jar Salads

Convenient and packed with heaps of flavour and nutrients, mason jar salads can be a time-saving packed lunch option that can be made the night before. Layer up your jar with a dressing first, protein of choice, a grain, and plenty of veg. Adding the dressing first will ensure that the rest of the salad doesn’t go soggy.

  1. Good Containers Go a Long Way!

One huge key to successful meal prep can be in a good container! There are plenty on the market, and the right food storage container for you could be a worthwhile investment. Perhaps you want those that clip and lock, or have different compartments, and probably leakproof is an important property! Look for something that will suit the kinds of meals you want to prepare.

It can also be a good idea to create labels for each meal you’ll be using in lunches for the week ahead, so it can easily be found in the fridge and so that you know what date it was made.

* How Long Does Pasta Last in the Fridge? (