5 Packable Lunches & a Printable Grocery List

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This post is sponsored by Snack Pack pudding:

5 Packable Lunches and a Printable Grocery List | Life as MOM

I was a child of the 70s and 80s. I went to Rosedell Elementary School. Mrs. Marcy was my favorite teacher of all time, second grade. I packed my lunch most days. One of my favorites was Tuna Salad in a pita bread with alfalfa sprouts. Yes, really. It was the 70s in California. What did you expect?

Hubs on the other hand was a child of the 60s and 70s. His mom was pretty poor when he was growing up. School wasn’t fun. When we talked about school lunches the other day, he said that having a chocolate pudding cup, specifically, a Snack Pack pudding, in his lunch was a huge deal for him. HUGE. He said, “I knew there was something to look forward to.”

Guess what I bought for him this week?

Back to School Lunches

Back to School means Back to School Lunches. This year, we can set ourselves up for success by taking the same meal planning strategies we use for the evening meal and applying  it to lunch! Not only will you save yourself some stressing in the wee morning hours, but you’ll feel better knowing that your kids have a great lunch waiting for them.

At our house I don’t pack lunches because the kids eat away from home during the day. As a homeschool mom I pack lunches so that our school day goes smoother.

  • If I don’t have to interrupt my work with one of the kids to make lunch, I can get more accomplished.
  • If none of us have to do a lot of prep and clean up, we can get back to schoolwork.
  • If a child can grab his lunch and his book and head out to the hammock for some quiet nourishment for body and soul, well, amen to that.

Packable Lunch Ideas and a Printable Grocery List | Life as MOM

Last year I didn’t utilize this strategy very well since the fridge was always so full of produce, but I’m hoping this year will be different. I’m considering putting the produce box on vacation more often — or getting a second fridge! The jury is still out, but I know that making our school day lunches ahead of time will save us time and money.

Make-ahead meals do that. Save time and money.

Our school starts soon, so I decided to plan out a week of lunches, create a shopping list, and make sure we’re good to go when Monday rolls around. And I made it into printable format, just like my other free meal plans. Just sharing the love.

My kids are pretty good about having the same thing once a week, so we’ll probably repeat this rotation for awhile. We did the same during the summer, and it worked really well.

5 Packable Lunches

Here’s our menu, all packable items that I can make in advance and let the kids serve themselves — or each other.

Pulled Chicken Sliders

can be made gluten and dairy free

This meal is quick to pull together and everyone likes it. The chicken and the buns can also be frozen, making it a very make-ahead meal. Pack the tomato separate so the bun doesn’t get soggy. You can let your kids assemble it themselves.

(And if you know they won’t eat the tomato, don’t put it in there. Just saying. It’s one thing to make them eat something when you’re there to enforce it; school is a whole other ball game.)

Chicken Salad Wraps

can be made gluten and dairy free

I like the low-carb option of this dish and the flavorful sweet and savory in the salad. Again, it’s easy to make the chicken in advance and freeze it so that you can make quick work of the salad.

Snacky Lunch

Snacky Lunch

can be made gluten and dairy free or vegetarian

My kids have grown up on homemade Lunchables, basically what a snacky lunch is. Most will say it’s one of their favorite lunches ever. Easy. Crackers, cheese, turkey, veggies, and fruit? What’s not to love.

Slice a bunch of cheese and meat at the beginning of the week to make it easier as the days go by.

Tuna Salad Sandwiches

can be made gluten and dairy free

Tuna isn’t the cheap protein it once was, but we love it all the same. Last year, my big boys packed it almost every time they had science class. Pack the salad separate from the bread to avoid sogginess.

Rice Pasta Salad

can be made gluten and dairy free

Pasta salad is a huge favorite around here. I can vary it depending on whatever we have on hand. The kids love it. You can make this with rice pasta or regular wheat noodles. It’s good both ways.

Cook the pasta the day before and cool it before dressing it and adding the mix-ins. Chill overnight to help the flavors blend.


Want the lunch plan? Print out all the recipes and then go here to print the grocery list. (For more meal plans, head here.)

snack pack chocolate

But, what about lunch dessert?

Obviously, this covers the protein and carbs. I’ll add in fresh fruit and veggies and a “lunch dessert” as it’s called around these parts.

Yes, I’ve raised dessert people. I know some folks rarely have dessert. It’s a twice — sometimes three times — a day occurrence. Sometimes, it’s just fruit, and sometimes it’s something a little more.

What’s funny is that FishPapa says that he doesn’t like sweets. Unless there’s chocolate around. And then? Well, there’s no stopping him. Favorite pie? Chocolate cream. Favorite cake? Chocolate. Favorite pudding?


Right now you can download a coupon for $1 off 3 Snack Pack 4-packs, redeemable at Walmart, expiring 10/31. These are typically priced at a $1 at Walmart, meaning that paired with the coupon you can grab some lunch desserts for a few pennies!

What about some warm fuzzies?

Mrs. Marcy always gave out warm fuzzies, little tokens of appreciation and encouragement. Remember those pompom people with feet from the 70s? She often gave us those to keep on our desk. You know those? They look like this?

Anyway, if you don’t have a herd of Weepuls in your kitchen, print off these fun printable notes to slip into your kids’ or spouse’s lunch box.

Get more BTS Lunch Inspiration

Looking for even more packable lunch ideas?

Join Andrea from Savings Lifestyle and Briana from Bargain Briana on Twitter as they share tips for making lunch boxes better this school year. We’ll be giving away some lunch money to help make packing those lunches even easier.

How do YOU pack lunches at your house?

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Snack Pack Pudding. All opinions are my own.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. I do indeed remember the warm fuzzies. I believe I still have some … somewhere.

  2. Christine A says

    It makes me smile when you write about childhood memories – especially this time with a big shout out to Rosedell!!!! I was not fortunate to have Mrs. Marcy as a teacher but now, I do remember warm fuzzies! My 1st grade teacher, Miss Watson (later she married and moved up north) also gave out these little “Pom poms” …as does my daughter’s 1st grade teacher!!!! The Weepuls just may be making a comeback!!!!!!

    • I had Miss Watson for 1st grade, too. Were we in the same class? Or were there two Miss Watsons? I’m not sure where all my school pics are.

      • Christine A. says

        Yes!!!! We were in the same class!!!!! I thought we were in second grade together but it was first!!! 😉

        • Ha! I was a nervous wreck that year since I didn’t do kinder at Rosedell. I’ve blocked most of it out.

  3. Teresa says

    I have struggled with packed lunch for 10 years. I make six sack lunches, five days a week. You would think I would have it down my now! The hardest part is keeping the kids and the Hubby from eating the items that are to go in the lunch. This year I think I finally got it down. I go shopping on Saturday night and Sunday evening I fill bags. I pack 30 brown bags with a verity of dry items. I fold down the top and put a color sticker on each to know what 6 are alike. Then I place them them in a box in the pantry. In the morning kids make a sandwich from what we had for dinner and add a fruit. So Far So good. I very happy and there is less stress.

  4. My childhood was the same years – pretty much all over the west coast – socal, seattle, phoenix, denver… my favorite lunch in california was either a bean burrito slathered in yellow mustard or a swiss cheese sandwich slathered in mustard with a side of guacamole and tortilla chips. Still some of my favorite lunches to this day LOL!

  5. Oh and salad pitas – I loved salad stuffed in pita bread with ranch dressing yum! I also loved sprouts so your tuna in a pita brought back memories only mine was salad – I really like vegetarian food back then although I eat meat now.

  6. shonna says

    last year we purchased a freeze drier so I could make lightweight backpack meals for a trip to Alaska. the food has great flavor so I find that I am making extra servings so I can put away single serve, easy to make lunches or dinners. all they need is a little hot water and in five minutes we have a home cooked meal. It has been fun to come up with different recipes too. There isn’t much that you can’t freeze dry. fresh fruit and veggies are awesome!

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