Reducing School Lunch Stress

By Mandy Merlin Professional Organiser from In Its Place

If the best thing about school holidays for you is not having to prepare school lunches, then keep reading. Below you will find some simple steps and tips for reducing the stress of creating a delicious school lunch that comes home empty.

There are three main steps to consider, which you can tweak to suit your individual family. They are planning, prepping and storing.


  • Ask your child what they like (from your healthy options of course). When you can involve your child in planning their menu they are much more likely to eat it as they feel more in control, especially if they are also involved in the prepping. Brainstorm 5-10 different lunch ideas together or google “healthy kid’s lunches” for inspiration. Don’t get intimidated just choose one or two things that seem easy and achievable.

  • Consider how your child naturally eats across their day. My youngest actually gets more in his lunchbox, as he needs his calories regularly throughout the school day. Whereas, my oldest prioritises soccer at breaks, so he eats a big breakfast and twice as much at dinnertime.

  • Mix it up a little, but not a lot. Remember you want to reduce your stress and kids do like routine but eating the same thing every day can get boring. * Tip – don’t put anything in their lunchbox that they haven’t tried before.

Bento Boxes are great to separate your lunch and snacks.

Step 2 – Prepping

While nobody wants to spend their whole weekend in the kitchen, a little bit of preparation can go a long way to ensuring smoother weekday mornings. Try:

  • Bulk cooking and freezing snacks such as biscuits, muffins, bliss balls, banana bread and quiches.

  • Preparing and freezing simple sandwiches or bakery scrolls and small rolls.

  • Portioning and freezing yoghurt, smoothies and some fruits.

  • Cutting up fruit and vegetables and storing them in the fridge ready for the week.

  • Cooking extra for dinner – ready for lunch the next day, think meatballs, veggie patties, pasta, or rice. Tip * It is important that leftovers are kept at the right temperature (see next section).

Step 3 – Storing

Now that you have planned and prepped it is important to store the food safely and have it ready to go.

  • Have dedicated baskets / organisers in your pantry, fridge and freezer for lunchbox items. Howard Storage has so many fabulous storage solutions. I like the Seville Pantry Organisers and the Interdesign range for the fridge and freezer. Sorting items into containers helps children to be able to pack their own lunches.

  • Howard Storage also has a range of reusable pockets for the foods in the examples above to store in the fridge or freezer. There are also ice packs and cool bags for foods that needs to stay cold until lunchtime.

  • For all of your lunchbox essentials, such as lunchboxes and drink bottles, refer to the article “Get back to school ready”. Tip * – Bento style lunch boxes allow for a range of ‘snacking’ type foods for kids who prefer to graze and are great for picky eaters.

Avanti stainless steel container

Mandy Merlin is a Professional Organiser based in Newcastle and is the founder of In its place.

Mandy is also a Professional Member of the Institute of Professional Organisers (IOPO).

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Copyright Howards Storage World January 2020

Updated December 2020.