How to Pack School Lunches Ahead of Time

Packing lunches in advance saves my week.

It's one of the single best things I do to make my weekdays easier. If I take some time on Sunday to pack lunches for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, then that makes the start to my week 100% easier and less stressful.

Every time we post about lunches that we've made a day, or two, or even three in advance, we get loads of questions about them. Questions about how do we keep the food fresh that long, what do we pack, and how do we pack to ensure that the lunches are still good three days later.

1: Start with the freshest food possible

Time your grocery shopping with your lunch prep and packing day, so that you are starting out with food that you know is already going to be good for well past the couple of days ahead that you are packing.

2: Keep foods from touching each other

I love using a bento style lunch box with separate compartments, they make it very easy to keep foods from touching.

In addition to that, I like to insert silicone muffin cups to act as extra dividers, or use other small containers inside the lunch box. If you can keep the different foods from touching each other, then they will all stay fresh for a lot longer. 

3: Choose cut vegetables carefully

Some veggies will keep just fine when cut, and others don't.

Lettuce, carrots, celery, and broccoli all store well when cut ahead - think about the kinds of veggies that don't release a lot of water after they sit for a while. These are all actually great choices for doing a once-a-week prep - get them all cut and stored in containers in your fridge so they are easy to grab and throw in a lunch or salad.

Not all veggies will tolerate being cut and stored ahead of time - sliced tomatoes top this list! Cut or sliced tomatoes are just not the same overnight in the fridge. If you want tomatoes in your lunch, choose small cherry or grape tomatoes instead - the size that can be put in the lunch whole or cut in half.

For apples, the Bravo type don't brown as quicky, otherwise our favourite tip is you can soak cut apples in salted water for 5 minutes, rinse and store and they won't go brown.

Adventure snacks lunchboxes that stay fresh

4: Pack in containers that are airtight enough to keep refrigerator moisture and smells out

We stock so many incredible brands of lunchboxes that all have different features but the main one they all have in common is that they're all airtight!  

5: Don't be afraid of the crunchy stuff

People seem to think that crackers and chips are going to get soft as soon as you put them in the fridge, and that's simply not true. I'm actually not even sure how we all got that idea.

As long as they're in a closed container, they will stay just as crunchy. Temperature has nothing to do with it - go right ahead and pack crackers, chips, or even dry cereals.

adventure snacks lunchbox

6: If you're struggling with ideas, think "Lunchable". 

You know those lunchables that you can buy pre-packaged at the store?

Think about how they are packaged and what's in them: crackers, sliced meat, sliced cheese, maybe a cookie. And what's unique about how they are packed? They are in a container with a separate little section for each item.

There's a reason why they work (and it's not just preservatives, because there are lots of organic brands now). 

Next time you're at the store take a look at the lunchables and note what kinds of things they contain, then go home and make your own version of that - but healthier, and less expensive!

You can make the standard cheese, meat, and crackers. Or try the one that's a make-your-own pizza - with a piece of bread or English muffin, a container of sauce, shredded cheese, and some sliced pepperoni.  Or a make your own nachos, with chips, cheese, and salsa.

7: Make ahead, and pack from the freezer

Some of my favourite lunches to pack are the ones when I can just pull something already made out of the freezer and pop it in the lunchbox.

This makes lunch packing even faster. Most foods that freeze and defrost well are also going to hold up to lunchbox storage well.

I make things like pizza rolls, English muffin pizzas, pancakes, muffins, ham and ]cheese scrolls etc. Then when it's time to pack a lunch I just pull something out of the freezer and put it in the lunchbox while frozen. They slowly thaw in the fridge and are great for a several days. 

montiico lunchbag with bento five lunchbox

There you have our top tips for packing more than one day's worth of lunchboxes at a time.  Make sure to tag us on social media if you do this, and let us know how much time you saved!

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