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12 Make-Ahead School Lunch Ideas to Make Mornings Less Stressful


It feels like summer just started yesterday but believe it or not, the back-to-school season will be here in just a few short weeks. Preparing for kids to go back to school this year will be unlike year thanks to the ongoing pandemic and the new Delta variant. It’s bound to be a more confusing, chaotic and stressful time than usual so we’re desperate for ways to cut back on the back-to-school stress.  One of our favorite tricks for cutting back on stress is to plan ahead and that means having some easy, make-ahead school lunches prepped and ready to go so school mornings aren’t quite so hectic.

Ahead, you’ll find lots of easy-to-make school lunch ideas that you can make the night before or a few days ahead of time and save yourself a whole lot of stress on busy weekday mornings.

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Homemade healthy granola bars

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Image: Little Chef Big Appetite.

Store-bought granola bars are a lunch staple for kids — but they’re often loaded with high-calorie sugar and other less-than-healthy ingredients. Instead, pack a nutritious homemade whole wheat granola bar, bursting with almonds, raisins and honey, to give your child a lunch snack you can be proud of.

Get the recipe from Little Chef Big Appetite 

Egg salad sandwich with dill


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Image: Recipe Doodle.

Many kids find egg salad sandwiches so comforting. Give this traditional recipe some added zest with green onions, Dijon mustard and tasty herbs.

Get the recipe at Recipe Doodle 

Peanut butter and jelly muffins

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Image: Little Chef Big Appetite.

PB and J sandwiches are so last year! Skip the white bread and whip up a dozen of these healthy muffins instead. They’re made with whole wheat flour and are filled with creamy peanut butter and your child’s favorite jelly.

Get the recipe from Little Chef Big Appetite 

Roasted chicken and vegetables

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Image: It’s Not Complicated.

Take some time on a Sunday afternoon to roast a whole chicken and you’ll be left with plenty of chicken for easy lunch-making throughout the week. Refrigerate the roasted chicken until you’re ready to add it to a yummy take-to-school lunch, like chicken with vegetables, chicken and pasta or kid-approved chicken wraps.

Get the recipe from It’s Not Complicated

Rotisserie chicken and pecan salad

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Image: Belly Full.

Pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store — or use leftover roasted chicken from above — to create this salad that kids will love by itself, on a sandwich or with a side of veggies.

Get the recipe at Belly Full

Slow cooker chicken tacos

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Tacos for lunch? Kids will love ’em! When boneless, skinless chicken cooks all night long with green chilies, salsa and seasonings, the result is tender, mouth-watering chicken that’s perfect for taco filling. In the morning, just build the taco and pack it up.

Get the recipe at Spoonful  of Flavor

Make-ahead pasta salad

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Image: Spend With Pennies.

This make-ahead pasta salad is a simple, delicious solution! You can even toss in any leftover veggies you have in your fridge to add some extra nutritional value. 

Get the recipe from Spend With Pennies

Chicken, broccoli and almond frittata

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Image: True Agape


If you’re looking to give your child a protein-packed lunch, you’ve found it! Cassie Celestain experimented for her first frittata recipe and it’s a hit that’s sure to please even picky eaters.

Get the recipe at True Agape 

Corn and tomato salad

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Image: The Blond Cook.

The beauty of this corn and tomato salad recipe is that you can make it ahead of time and there’s very little cooking involved! Make it as a side dish for your family’s evening dinner and send leftovers to school with your child for a scrumptious light lunch.

Get the recipe from The Blond Cook

Pretzel-crusted chicken

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Image: SheKnows.

Kids love chicken nuggets and they love pretzels. Putting them together is genius! A crushed pretzel coating gives these nuggets a crunchy texture that kids can’t get enough of! Pack them in your child’s lunch with a zesty dipping mustard and your kid will be the star of the cafeteria!

Get the recipe from SheKnows

Turkey ranch club wrap

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Image: Organize Yourself Skinny.

You can make these delicious wraps 1-2 days ahead of time and because they only require a couple ingredients and no cooking, they come together in just a few minutes.

Get the recipe from Organize Yourself Skinny

Too busy to head to the grocery store? Get all of the fresh ingredients needed to make these recipes through Instacart.

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