Whether you’re a teacher, student or parent, back to school is a time of both excitement and anxiety. As if you didn’t have enough to worry about, now you have to think about new ideas for kids’ lunches day in and day out. You’re already on top of all the BTS closet organization hacks for their wardrobe — now it’s time to do the same with their lunch box. Spend your last few days of freedom with the kiddos making homemade cereal bars and binging your fave Disney movies before it’s back to reality. Then, check out these 18 genius lunch box hacks that will get you through the school year like a pro.

Apple Sandwich

1. Apple PB&J Sandwiches: Maybe your child has a gluten allergy, or maybe you’re just trying to be sneaky about getting them to eat more fruit. Either way, this breadless version of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich will get them excited about munching on an apple. (via The Foodie Physician)


2. Build Your Own Taco: Interactive food is a great way to get your kids excited about their meals. This DIY taco kit allows them to build each bite the way they want it on top of a mess-free tortilla cup. All the other kids will be totally envious of this lunch. (via Belly Full)

Froyo cups

3. Fruity Frozen Yogurt Snacks: All you need to make these snacks are yogurt and fruit. The kids will think they’re getting an indulgent frozen treat, but you can rest easy knowing they’re eating a healthy fro-yo snack. (via Tablespoon)


4. Frozen Fruit Cups: For this easy hack, you’ll place a baking tray filled with muffin liners in the freezer and stuff with your kid’s favorite fruits. They’ll thaw throughout the morning, and by lunch, they’ll have perfectly cold fruit. (via POPSUGAR)


5. Use Frozen Beverages As Ice Packs: Don’t take up valuable real estate in their lunch box with a bulky ice pack. Freeze juice boxes to keep everything cold; then it can double as their drink once it defrosts. (via The Krazy Coupon Lady)


6. Ham and Cheese Pockets: It’s always great knowing that your child is noshing on a homemade meal when they’re not with you. Heat up these cheesy ham pockets in the morning, then double wrap in foil or tuck in a thermos to keep warm until lunch. (via Dessert Now, Dinner Later)


7. Sweet Fruit Wrap: This healthy dessert wrap combines cream cheese, honey and fruit, all layered on a whole wheat tortilla. If your kid claims not to like wraps, this one will change their mind. (via Super Healthy Kids)


8. Homemade GoGurt: This is a snack you might start sneaking for yourself. GoGurt is convenient and delicious, but it’s *way* cheaper (and so easy!) to make at home. Just buy the reusable bags and fill with a blend of yogurt and fruit. That’s it! (via Passion for Savings)


9. Homemade Uncrustables: Uncrustables are one of those snacks that makes adults nostalgic. Thankfully, it’s simple to make your own version using a sandwich press or cookie cutters. This way, you can use whatever nut butter and jam you like. (via Super Healthy Kids)

ice packs

10. DIY Lunch Box Ice Packs: You’ll wish you invented this hack. To keep lunch box contents cool all day, saturate a cheap sponge with water and freeze. Place in a Ziplock bag, and as it melts throughout the day, it reabsorbs all of the liquid and is ready to freeze again at the end of the day. (via My Kitchen Escapades)

Lunch Packing Station

11. DIY Lunch Packing Station: Organization is the key to a fast lunch-packing process. Invest in a three-tiered cart to house lunch boxes, Tupperware and plastic cutlery, and mornings will go smoothly for everyone. (via How Does She?)


12. DIY Pizza Lunch: It’s so easy to throw together ingredients for kiddos to build their own homemade pizza Lunchable. Truth be told, your kids will prefer this version more than the store-bought ones. (via Momables)


13. Make Cold Cuts Fun: Lunch meat and cheese can be boring. Encourage healthy eating by using a cookie cutter to make shapes out of cold cuts and vegetables for cracker toppers. They’ll love getting their craft on while filling their bellies. (via POPSUGAR)


14. PB&J Sushi: Kids like to eat what you eat, so turn their lunch into a copy of what they see you devouring. Plus, they’ll feel oh-so cool eating their PB&J sushi with leftover takeout chopsticks. (via Cooking Classy)


15. Peanut Butter Cheerio Bars: It may be tempting to throw a pre-packaged cereal bar in their bags and go about your morning, but making your own is almost as fast. Prepare the bars with the kids over the weekend and you’re set for the week. (via Passion for Savings)


16. Pepperoni Pizza Puffs: Pizza is the ultimate lunch box win. If you surprise them with these cheese-stuffed pizza bites, you’ll guarantee there will be no lunch trading that day. (via Spend With Pennies)


17. Easy-to-Peel Eggs: Hard-boiled eggs are a great source of protein that kids love to eat. Make a huge batch on Sunday and have them peeled and ready to go whenever their little hands reach for them. (via The Pioneer Woman)


18. DIY Snack Station: Kids need to take some responsibility when it comes to packing their lunch. Set up a station filled with all of their favorite snacks and let them choose which one they want for the day. (via 100 Things to Do)

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