25 Make-Ahead Lunch Ideas
I know that making lunch for us parents and the kids can seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be. Don’t stress about making lunches. These make-ahead lunch ideas can be prepped in advance for easy lunches all week long!
Mornings are hectic which is why I’ve always been a pack-lunch-the-night-before kind of mom. I’m less likely to forget to pack my boys’ favorites and am sure to hit all the major food groups.
While I can’t make every school lunch ahead of time, my boys do crave a PB&J from time to time after all, having a few make-ahead ideas up my sleeve makes packing lunches less of a chore overall.
Some of our favorite go-tos for make-ahead lunches include:
- Pasta salads – Whole grain pasta, veggies, protein and an easy dressing are all that’s needed!
- Tuna or chicken salad – For easy sandwiches or to pair with crackers.
- Soups – Perfect for chilly days here in PA and easy to pack in a Thermos.
- Recipes you can make in a muffin tin – Muffins, quiche bites, mac n cheese, wonton taco cups. Most hold for several days in the fridge and can be freezer-friendly. Plus, it’s just fun to eat mini-versions of your favorite foods.
How do you #PowerYourLunchbox? Show us your healthy lunchboxes on Instagram using #PowerYourLunchbox.
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All these make ahead lunch ideas are great for the kids. Since you can make them ahead of time, have the kids help on actually packing their lunchboxes. When kids are involved in the process of making lunches, they are more likely to eat what’s inside.
Don’t forget to meal-prep your own lunch! These are all delicious, easy and nutritious meal ideas, so that means us parents can enjoy them too.
Make-Ahead Lunch Ideas
Make mornings easier with these make-ahead lunch ideas.
Chinese Mandarin Pasta Salad
Chinese chicken salad goes plant-based with this delicious vegan recipe packed with fruits and veggies.
Black Bean Empanadas
These easy vegetarian black bean empanadas are perfect for throwing into a lunchbox with your kids’ favorite sides.
BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad
A bagged salad, leftover rotisserie chicken and a few other simple ingredients make for an easy salad.
Cheesy Taco Pasta
This Cheesy Taco Pasta is ready in just 20 minutes for either an easy weeknight dinner or quick lunchbox idea for the whole week.
Wonton Taco Cups
Whether you’re celebrating Taco Tuesday or just need a fun lunchbox idea that kids can help make, these wonton taco cups are perfect!
Kale and Chicken Pot Pie
The classic Chicken Pot Pie gets a healthy makeover with this easy recipe prepped in 15 minutes!
Pizza Pasta Salad Lunchbox
All your favorite pizza toppings, but in a fun make-ahead pasta salad that’s perfect for lunchboxes!
Alphabet Vegetable Soup
Keep your little ones warm in the winter time with this healthy and hearty Alphabet Soup.
BBQ Chicken Taquitos Lunchbox
Turn leftover shredded chicken into a fun appetizer or lunch idea with these taquitos!
One-Pot Cheeseburger Mac
Busy families often rely on the convenience of boxed hamburger meals, but you can get the same delicious meal in a much healthier way with this one-pot cheeseburger mac!
Savory Chicken & Rice Muffins
Turn a chicken & rice dinner into these lunchbox-friendly muffins! Make a big batch at the start of the week for easy snacks and lunchbox packing.
Veggie Caesar Pasta Salad
When you know you'll be in a time crunch with lunchboxes during the week ahead, make a big batch of this Veggie Caesar Pasta Salad to last all week!
Southwest Quiche Muffins Bento Box
These Southwest quiche muffins are a great meal prep recipe packed full of protein and veggies. Make a batch for easy breakfasts all week, or these fun breakfast theme bento boxes!
Mac n Cheese Muffins
These Mac n’ Cheese Muffins are a healthy spin on a kid-favorite. Since they’re fun to eat and packed with flavor, kids won’t even know they’re filled with veggies!
Freezable Pizza Pockets
These homemade pizza pockets are perfect for kids’ lunchboxes! They’re freezer-friendly and can go from freezer to lunchbox without any extra steps.
Easy Picnic Bento Box
Capture your favorite summer picnic in a bento box! Chicken salad gets a makeover by swapping Greek yogurt for the mayo and adding grapes.
Turkey Taco Salad Bento Box
Who says lunchboxes have to be complicated? Turn last night’s Taco Tuesday into a delicious taco salad for lunch the next day with your leftover taco meat.
Kid-Friendly Lunchbox Empanadas
These lunchbox-friendly empanadas are packed with lean ground beef, veggies and cheese for a meal kids won’t be able to resist!
Apple Zucchini Mini Muffins
Kids will love opening their lunchboxes and seeing these yummy mini muffins, packed with healthy ingredients like apples, zucchini and Greek yogurt!
Smashed Chickpea Salad Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers
This smashed chickpea salad is a great plant-based alternative to serve as a sandwich, wrap or stuffed into these adorable mini sweet peppers!
Greek Orzo Pasta Salad
Introduce your kiddos to Mediterranean flavors with this 10-minute Greek Orzo Pasta Salad. Easily change up the recipe with different veggies & dressings!
Mandarin Chicken Stir-fry with Green Beans
This Mandarin Chicken Stir-Fry is an easy go-to weeknight dinner and leftovers can easily be repurposed in a Thermos for stress-free lunch the next day.
Cheese & Bean Quesadilla Bento Box
These cheese and bean quesadillas are simple to prep and easy to add veggies like spinach, peppers or mushrooms.
Chicken Zoodle Soup
Classic chicken noodle soup gets a veggie-packed makeover with zucchini noodles (zoodles)!
DIY Nachos Lunchbox
Kids will love assembling this fun DIY Nachos lunch with black beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and guacamole!