How to pack a lunch in five minutes or less

Aug 16, 2012 at 11:50 a.m. ET

The benefits to packing lunch are huge. Not only does it save tons of money, but you can ensure the ingredients are fresher and of a high quality. Use these tips to pack a great lunch in five minutes or less.

mom chopping vegetables

Pre-chop your veggies

Keep your vegetables cleaned, chopped and in serving-size containers in your fridge. Splash a little water in the containers to make sure the vegetables stay fresh for up to a week. When you're packing your lunch, just pull one out and throw it in your lunch box.

Pack leftovers

Casseroles, pastas, soups and rice dishes are great the next day. Zap them in the microwave until they're hot, and place them in a thermos to stay warm until lunch. It's easy to throw together, and it's always nice to have a hot lunch that's ready to eat.

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Go with no-maintenance fruit

Some produce takes a lot of work before it's dinner-ready. Stick with fruits that come ready-to-eat, like berries, grapes and apples. Toss a serving in a baggie and you're ready to go.

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Pre-package your snacks

Keep a bin filled with cookies, crackers and other snacks that are already divided into single serving sizes and placed into baggies. All you need to do when you're packing is grab one and throw it in your lunch box.

Freeze your drink

Shave off precious seconds you spend digging through the freezer for an ice pack (and save space in that lunch pail) by keeping a few frozen waters in your freezer. Use these in your lunch box, and they'll keep everything cold and be thawed by lunch time.

Pack ready-to-eat products

Sometimes, you just don't have time to make everything fresh. It's mornings like these that you'll be glad you have a few ready-made products lying around. Choose items like fruit cups and cheese sticks to put together a tasty lunch in a hurry.

Quick Tip

Prep ahead of time! Chop produce and cook proteins on Sunday to have lunches ready for the whole week.

More tips for packing lunch

School lunch: Pack it or buy it?
Freezable foods that will thaw by lunch time
Keeping your kids on healthy diets while at school