15 School Lunch Hacks to Know and Love

on August 8, 2013
Courtesy of Wendolonia

Pack it Up...

Creativity manifests itself in many ways, people—and we love the idea of turning school lunch into an exercise in creativity. Make this year's back-to-packing-lunch season fun, affordable and perfectly adorable with our favorite lunchtime tips and tricks from around the web.

Courtesy of Project Denneler

Make Fruit Roll-Up Fortune Cookies

Sandra of Project Denneler, a project-centric blog, shares a step-by-step for creating perhaps one of the most creative methods for lunch box note-sharing out there—Fruit Roll-Up Fortune Cookies. Choose any style, color and flavor you like, or try this Blackberry Fruit Leather for a super-simple and healthier alternative.

Read More: Fruit Roll Up Fortune Cookies

Image via Jessie's Juice Bar

How to Pack a Salad in a Jar

Cambria Bold, food and lifestyle editor at The Kitchn, shares the ultimate formula for fabulous make-ahead salads. While we wouldn't suggest sending any glass containers to school, the same principle works with any Tupperware container. We like the LockTop Lunch Set from OXO, or even a repurposed peanut butter container. Layer items as listed to maintain freshness, packing from wet-to-dry, with dressing always on the bottom and leafy greens on the top.

Read More: No More Soggy Salads: A Guide to the Perfect Salad in a Jar

Courtesy of Scissors and Spatulas

Create a Lunch Box Chalkboard

The new wave of lunch box love notes continues with Jen of Scissors and Spatulas, who offers up a tutorial for a DIY Chalkboard Lunchbox. This simple idea will cut down your paper usage and help shrink that carbon footprint of yours.

Read More: Back To School Chalkboard Lunch Box

Courtesy of Wendolonia

Learn Bento Basics

Do you find yourself getting lost in galleries of elaborate bento boxes, but too intimidated to give it a try? Well, there's no time like the present, and no better place to start than with the basics. In this post, Wendy of bento blog Wendolonia breaks down the who's who of bento tools and accessories.

Read More: Bento Tools & Accessories

Courtesy of Lunch Box Blues

Pack the Ultimate Almost-Veggie Dog

J.M. Hirsch, food editor, dad-blogger and author of the new book Lunch Box Blues, chronicles his son's lunches every day. While he generally aims to avoid labor intensive "cutesy" foods, we think his idea for the Elvis Dog is pretty darn cute. A whole banana on a bun, plus peanut butter and Hirsch's recipe for candied bacon? This makes for one seriously fun lunch.

Read More: An Elvis Dog and Some Zucchini in Disguise

Courtesy of MOMables

Make At-Home Versions of Pre-Packaged Lunches

Laura of MOMables, a site dedicated entirely to streamlining school lunches, takes on the hefty challenge of recreating healthy, yet still entirely fun and appetizing, versions of supermarket pre-packaged lunches. As she wages her Lunchbox Wars, she achieves feel-good alternatives to preservative-laden pizzas and nachos, with packaging and presentation tips along the way.

Read More: Lunchbox Wars: The DIY Pizza Lunch

Courtesy of A Little Delightful

Plan Ahead of Time

Like most things in this world, lunch packing runs more smoothly with a little planning. Get the kids involved and discuss lunch options and preferences—then employ a School Lunch Planner, this one is a free, printable version from Bianca of A Little Delightful. Once done, lunch box planners can double as a grocery list, making shopping trips a breeze.

Read More: Printable Lunch Box Planner

Courtesy of Mom's Kitchen Handbook

Pack an Apple Like a Pro

Well-seasoned foodie moms like Katie Morford know that the smallest details make all the difference. On her blog Mom's Kitchen Handbook, she shares a tip that's so simple, it's genius—how to pack an apple. Hint: It has nothing to do with the ribbon. The ribbon is just for sparkle.

Read More: Most Clever Way to Pack an Apple

Courtesy of Wendolonia

Keep Bento Boxes Simple

Sometimes the simplest advice is the best. Bento blogger extraordinaire Wendy of Wendolonia (making a second appearance on our list) urges us that, when trying to take steps toward more fabulous lunches, start small. Like with one thing. This post includes a list of quick, easy and singular steps for packing more amazing lunches, like artfully arranging lunch meats or making fun shapes with cookie cutters.

Read More: Just Do One Thing

Courtesy of Homemade Mamas

Make DIY Sponge Ice Packs

This. Is. Genius. And fiscally responsible to boot! Ice packs can be a necessary evil, but they can also be expensive. Maggie of Homemade Mamas shares an easy DIY tutorial for making lunchbox ice packs from sponges and Ziploc bags. So cheap, so simple, and the best part is the sponges absorb excess water throughout the day as the pack melts.

Read More: Lunchbox Ice Packs

Courtesy of Kailo Chic

Create Easter Egg Lunches

Accessories designer and mom blogger Kara of Kailo Chic has found a way to make plastic Easter eggs worth keeping around all year. Fill eggs with various nibbles, then store them in an egg carton turned lunch box. Seriously, how clever is that? When you're dealing with picky eaters, sometimes a little novelty goes a very long way.

Read More: Easter Egg Lunch

Courtesy of Another Lunch

Make Your Own Customized Bento Picks

If you're taking the bento route—or any route involving multiple types of bite sized foods—kids will love eating with bento picks. Melissa of Another Lunch offers a super simple tutorial for creating themed bento picks to fit any season or occasion.

Read More: How To Make Cute Bento Picks

Courtesy of Swim Like a Mom

Serve PB & J in a New Way

Who knew Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard had a parenting blog? Swim Like a Mom is lovely—as is Beard's step-by-step photo tutorial for one of our favorite modern-day school lunch fads: PB & J Sushi Rolls. We love the idea of packing a PB & J Sushi lunch, complete with chop sticks.

Read More: PB & J Sushi Rolls

Courtesy of Recipe Rehab

Avoid a Soggy Sandwich

Recipe Rehab shares 7 super easy ways to side-step the Darth Vader of packed school lunches—a soggy sandwich. With these simple prep and storage notes, you'll be on the way to your best sandwiches yet.

Read More: How to Prevent Soggy Sandwiches in 7 Clicks

Courtesy of Food For My Family

Learn The ABCs of the Lunchbox

Literally the ABCs of the Lunchbox, this post from Shaina of Food For My Family includes a list of lunch recipes and snack ideas all the way from Ants on a Log to Zucchini Bread. When you're stuck in a lunch box rut, this is a great place to start.

Read the Blog Post: The ABCs of the Lunchbox

Still In Need of Inspiration?

Check out the following stories from Relish and Spryliving.com:

11 Lunch Boxes Kids Will Want to Flaunt -Relish

How to Pack the Perfect Kids' Lunch -Spry

10 School Lunch Ideas Your Kids Will Eat -Spry

6 Easy Steps to Packing a School Lunch -Relish