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Tips for prepping a lunch box the night before

Elaina is a Phoenix-based freelance writer, blogger and co-founder of the Kidlee baby book app. Check out her blog, Fun Finds For Mom, for product reviews, recipes and fun activities for moms and kids.

Operation lunch box

Packing lunches during the morning rush can be a major pain. Take our advice and prep those lunch boxes the night before. You'll save time (and be a nicer mommy in the morning).

Have a plan

Have a plan

Photo credit: The Curriculum of Love

Instead of standing at the kitchen counter scratching your head, make a "packed lunch plan" before you do your weekly grocery shopping. It only takes a minute, and having a plan is a huge help when it's time to load those lunch boxes.

Make lunches before the dinner mess is cleared

Make lunches before the dinner mess is cleared

Photo credit: Budget for Health

The last thing you want to do is clean up after dinner, then create an entirely new mess while you pack the kids' lunches. Because we all know how much we love wiping off the counters, loading the dishwasher and sweeping the floor. Again. And again.

Use leftovers

Use leftovers

Photo credit: Weelicious

Catherine McCord, author of Weelicious Lunches, is a big fan of using dinner leftovers (like these teriyaki meatballs) in the next day's lunch. If your kids have an aversion to leftovers, "repurpose" them and hide last night's dinner in a quesadilla or sandwich.

Pack a bento style lunch box

Pack a bento style lunch box

Photo credit: Fun Finds For Mom

Make things easy on yourself and get a lunch box with multiple compartments. That way you won't have to spend time hunting for containers and lids or wasting plastic bags. Plus, the kids will eat more of their lunch since they have access to everything immediately.

Make a week's worth of lunches in advance. (No mushy sandwiches. Promise.)

What if you could pack lunches on Sunday and be done for the week? No, we're not talking about sending your kid to school with a mushy sandwich that's been sitting in the fridge for days. Intrigued? Read on.

Make a week's worth of lunches in advance (no mushy sandwiches. promise.)

Photo credit: ComeTogetherKids.com

Laura from ComeTogetherKids.com has a sensible approach. She makes the "main dish" or sandwich fresh each morning, but uses Sunday night to package up fruits, side dishes and snacks to last all week. This smart mama also involves the kids by having them help slice the fruits and veggies and package up individual portions, encouraging independence and responsibility. Love it.

Freeze juice boxes

Freeze juice boxes

Photo credit: Mott's

Grab a juice box and put it in the freezer overnight. In the morning, stick the frozen juice box into the lunch box to keep everything cold. By lunchtime, the juice should be nice and slushy.

Add a note

Add a note

Photo credit: Popsugar

Lunch is packed. You're almost done. What's next? A note, of course! It doesn't have to be long or fancy, but a handwritten note from mom is a like sending a hug and kiss to school in your child's backpack.

More fun and healthy snack ideas:

Appropriate play date snacks
Snacks kids don't know are healthy
Make-ahead snacks for play dates

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