Make School Mornings Easy with These CLEVER Lunch Box Hacks

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These school clever lunch box hacks are so easy – press and seal PB&J uncrustable maker

How strong is your lunch packing game!?

If you struggle during the school year with busy morning routines and rushing to pack school lunches, make life easy with these clever lunch box hacks! You’ll be mastering on-the-go meals like a champ in no time!

These school clever lunch box hacks are so easy – make your own Lunchables

1. Make DIY Lunchables.

Instead of buying expensive prepackaged mini meals, it’s actually pretty easy to cut up a few pieces of cheese and lunch meat and design your own simple bento style lunch. You can buy containers with compartments, or just wing it like I do by separating every day Tupperware with smaller containers and cupcake wrappers. I love that you can customize for each child and use up odds and ends of crackers, cheeses, and fruit from the fridge.

These school clever lunch box hacks are so easy – sliced apple

2. Prevent apples from browning.

Soak apple slices in pineapple juice or lemon juice first, then place them in lunches to prevent them from turning brown so quickly in the lunch box. This works for banana slices, too!

These school clever lunch box hacks are so easy – basket of snacks

3. Create grab & go snack baskets.

Place a special snack basket in both the fridge and the pantry so both you and the kids know where to go to find quick snacks for school without searching.

These school clever lunch box hacks are so easy – press and seal PB&J uncrustable maker and sandwich

4. Make DIY Uncrustables.

Skip the expensive store-bought version and make a bunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches ahead of time to freeze for future lunches. I use this handy kitchen tool that cuts the crust and seals the edges when you press down on the sandwich. Or you can use a large cookie cutter and then press the edges using a fork as an alternative.

These school clever lunch box hacks are so easy – close up of the press and seal PB&J uncrustable maker

Is your school nut-free? Use a nut-free peanut butter alternative like Wowbutter or SunButter. Also worth noting, the cut and seal tool can be used to cut the crust off other sandwiches, too – not just PB&J!

These school clever lunch box hacks are so easy – hot dog bun for a peanut butter and banana sandwich

5. Use a leftover hot dog bun for a banana sandwich.

To use this idea for school lunches, pack the bun and peanut butter (or wow butter), and then send the banana in the lunch still in the peel. Then your child can place the fresh banana inside the sandwich at lunchtime.

These school clever lunch box hacks are so easy – make your own frozen pops with fruits and vegetables

6. Make DIY frozen smoothies/juices.

Use these long freezer pouches to pre-make homemade smoothies, and then pack them in your child’s lunch for a refreshing and healthy snack! Then check out a few easy and delicious recipe ideas I created.

These school clever lunch box hacks are so easy – pre-package snacks into small baggies

7. Pre-portion snacks.

Save money by buying snacks in bulk and dividing out into smaller snack-sized baggies, instead of buying the pricier individually wrapped snacks.

These school clever lunch box hacks are so easy – freeze wet sponges to place in lunchboxes

8. Make DIY ice packs.

Freeze a water soaked sponge inside a plastic baggie to use as a cold pack. Also consider freezing juice boxes, grapes, and yogurt tubes that double as extra cold packs, yet will be defrosted for lunchtime!

These school clever lunch box hacks are so easy – small thermoses for hot foods

9. Serve hot lunch with ease.

You can pack everything from warm chicken nuggets to mac and cheese, soups, and last night’s dinner using these helpful insulated food containers. Read how we use our insulated food containers.

These school clever lunch box hacks are so easy – mini corn dog bites

10. Prep ahead on the weekends.

Check out these Hip2Save lunchbox favorites:

Join The Discussion

Comments 91

  1. Michelle

    I always divide up bags of snacks like pretzels or mini rice cakes… I look at the serving size and divide he bag by that… keeps everyone on track…

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Perfect! Great tip 👍

  2. Rockstar

    Something else I use to keep apples from browning that’s easier than dipping your fruit in juice is Ball brand “Fruit Fresh”. It’s basically ground up ascorbic acid (vit C) and comes in a shaker. My mother used to use it before she froze fruit to keep it from browning. I just sprinkle it on my kids cut fruit before packing it up – they’ve never complained about the flavor, which I was worried about initially since no one really likes citrus except me.

    • Jeanna Johnson

      To prevent apples browning simply soak for a few seconds in lightly salted water!! Trust me it works to keep them for browning for days!

      • Lana

        I came here to say that too! They can last for up to a week if soaked in the salt water.

      • arlene

        this might sound like a silly question, but how long are you suppose to soak the apples? This would be so cool if I can do this, and can you taste the salt much?

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh interesting! I’d like to try that – thanks for sharing

    • KLS

      A friend of mine soaks them in sprite. I don’t notice it when eating them, but they stay crisp and do not brown all day!

      • Tia

        I’m going to try that for sure. My daughter will feel like she’s getting an extra treat by using the Sprite!

        • SusieQ2765

          I am diabetic so I use Diet Sprite. I have had apples keep for several days in baggies in the refrigerator.

      • Danielle

        I have always soaked my fruit in Sprite too to keep it from browning!! It works wonders!!

    • Rockstar

      Just to clarify, I posted the Fruit Fresh as an option for people that don’t want to have to soak their fruit in any liquids, which usually involves additional dishes and is a little messy and drippy. ☺️

      • Veronica Duran

        I am glad to learn of all of these ideas!!! You are all awesome! My oldest is 11 and I still feel lost daily! :/

    • Mamamia

      I actually just cut the apple and rubber band it together so it looks uncut. No air gets through to the cut edges and the apples are good to go at lunch time.

    • Nana Donna 2 6

      I use Fresh Fruit on my peaches. It works great with no after taste… at least I don’t notice any.

    • Sharon

      I wanted to also add that I use an apple slicer and rubber band the Apple back together and don’t have to put anything on it and it does not brown

  3. Lori

    I absolutely LOVE packing my kids’ lunches. I have an Instagram account dedicated to lunch ideas. If anyone is interested and looking for quick and practical ideas for their kids lunch, please feel free to follow me on Instagram. I post lunches and sometimes snack ideas of what i give my picky eaters. @prettypracticalmom

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Awesome! Thanks for sharing 👍

    • Just passing through

      I love looking at lunches but don’t have Instagram

      • 50ShadesofLipstick

        You don’t need an IG account to look at public IG profiles such as the above one.

    • Olga

      Awesome! Following your Insta now

    • Gina G.

      Do you do Pinterest by chance? I use Pinterest all the time and have several different “boards” but I don’t use Instagram much

  4. Lisa

    We store the thermos drink bottle (bottoms) in the freezer, and then can fill it with milk. My son drinks some with his breakfast and has enough (cold) milk still at lunch time. If you’re ever unsure if something like this will stay cold (or hot for the hot containers) try it yourself for work lunch, or try it on the weekend.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      That’s a great tip! Love it 😍

  5. Amandan

    I toss apples in cinnamon (not cinnamon sugar)—no browning and delicious flavor!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thanks for sharing! I’ll try this 👏

    • Alicia

      Well that’s probably because the cinnamon is brown, good truck! 😆

      • Alicia


  6. Patty

    This is what I do too. My kids don’t like the lemon juice taste left on apples. It works great and does not taste salty. 👍🏻

  7. Char

    I really don’t like those make your own uncrustables…. Such a waste of bread! And you’re using a $5 loaf!
    Yeah I make my kids eat crust. I made a loaf with my daughter once to prove the crust was made of the exact same thing.
    I do like those gogurt shaped baggies… Great idea!

    • Just passing through

      I usually eat the extras for breakfast Or I pack the whole sandwich with the cut out. My kid likes the shape and will also eat the crust

    • rebecca

      it is only a waste of bread if someone CHOOSES to waste the bread. cutting food into a different shape doesn’t force it to go to waste.
      there is no step that says, “throw away the whole rest of the piece.” why be so presumptuous?

    • Kell6580

      I feel the same way. But…I use the crust for homemade breadcrumbs and/or croutons.

    • Shey

      My mom used to tell me when I was little that the “crust” was the best part for you. Lies, lies! It’s all the same… the crust, the middle. And then come to find out I later developed a gluten intolerance.

  8. B

    Will you be sharing a school supply price comparison list from all the major retailers again this year?

  9. Lana

    Just regular full peanut butter and jelly sandwiches freeze just fine. No need to waste all that bread or take all that time. No reason to make sandwiches every morning when so many can be made ahead and frozen and right in the lunchbox.

    • Julia Piedrahita

      How long can I keep in freezer ? Have your children complained about bread being stale thanks in advance trying to learn from you expert ladies 😍

  10. Shannon

    I always do the grab and go baskets but I separate each kind of snack in its own container. I use dollar tree containers like the ones that were posted in the dollar tree hacks post the other day!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      That’s so great! Nice tip- thanks Shannon!

  11. Just passing through

    I always have high hopes but never get around to it 😂. I do cookie cut a sandwich and cut up strawberries

  12. Monica Powell

    I love the Cut n Close tool from Pampered Chef to make homemade crustables!!! I noticed In your link to amazon they are listed for $17. I am a consultant and they are only $11 on my site.

    • susie

      can you share the site so i can purchase it foe $11.

    • Amanda

      It’s now showing $21.47 on the Amazon website! Whoa!! I think I purchased it from Pampered Chef a couple of years ago for $8. I absolutely LOVE it!

    • Katrina

      Also interested in link to Pampered Chef to get it for $11 or less, please!

    • Sonia

      I ordered my new pampered chef for $11, shipped on EBay.

  13. Allison

    Love my Pampered Chef Cut & Seal! My kiddo hates bread crust and this makes a cute sandwich (AKA homemade Uncrustable)

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Nice! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  14. AZ

    Freezing sandwiches on Sunday night for the week is another good idea…then all you do is toss them in their lunch bag and it thaws by lunch time. For hot foods, you can pour boiling water into a thermos, seal it up for a few minutes, then toss the water out and pour in the hot food item…it will keep it warmer much longer. We also buy regular or bulk bags of snacks and portion them up ourselves- the individually-wrapped ones are much more expensive in comparison.

    And my kids would much rather eat fruit that has slightly browned vs. fruit that tastes like lemon juice, soda, or Vitamin C tablets (of all things). I also taught them to eat their crusts- we don’t waste food and I have no desire to eat their leftover crusts myself!

    • Kathleen

  15. Jessica Dugger

    I like that Pampered Chef cutter, maybe some day. My son only wants his PB&J in a circle. The lid on the 40 oz Jif jar cuts the perfect size circle and seals. We pack it in the plastic sandwich keeper so it doesn’t get smashed in the baggie. 😉

  16. K211

    Thanks for the suggestions Hip2Save and other readers .

    But why are some of us being so judgmental ? The suggestions and tips in the original post may not work for some but may be a life saver for others . Hip2Save is a great site for deals and sharing ideas . People are just trying to be helpful. Please try and respect the fact that different things work for different people . We do not know anyone here well enough to pass a judgement. If you do not agree with something , don’t use that suggestion. If you have an opinion , share it respectfully without attacking anyone’s choices .
    Keep up the good work Hip2Save and thank you to all the readers who share their suggestions. I have learnt so much from these posts and reading the comments on them 🙂

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thanks so much for your kind words and support of Hip2save! 👏❤️ I agree the comments and suggestions from other readers can be so helpful. 👍

    • Valerie

      Agree completely! Negative Nelly’s not needed.

  17. Elizabeth

    We can’t live without our Pampered Chef “Circle Sandwiches”!! I actually am a Pampered Chef consultant! if your interested in ordering a Cut-N-Seal they are cheap if you order them directly from PC, rather than Amazon. here’s my link 🙂

    • EmilyMab

      with the cost of shipping on PC it equals out the same as Amazon, however ordering from a fellow h2saver is better!!

    • beckybowen

      how much does shipping run, and does this work better on certain breads

  18. Gisette

    I agree on the pampered chef circle! Used the guts out of mine when I used to pack our kids lunches. Still have it 12 years later. 😉👍🏻 love all the ideas on this post! Thanks Hip2Save ☺️

  19. Diana

    We also use those little plastic containers (like for salsa and condiments at restaurants) for small fruit bites, pickle slices for sandwiches, and goldfish/crackers. Buy in bulk at sams- they last a long time and are really convenient. My mom gave them to me and i thought what am i going to do with these?! 🤪 actually, are pretty handy! 😁😁

  20. Nana Donna 2 6

    Thanks for reminding me I have the Pampered Chef sandwich crimper! I’ve had mine for many years and seldom used it so it was stored away. Now that I have grandkids who love PB&J sandwiches, this is coming out of storage! As for sending lunches with containers, I could never trust them coming back home when my kids were little. They somehow either got forgotten or tossed in the trash can.

  21. Kris

    Pampered Chef makes a product called the cut-n-seal to make uncrstables. It’s only $11. The one on Amazon was $25.

  22. Tori

    Hi Lina,
    The recipe link is not working for the smoothies.
    I would love to read them if you get a chance to fix it.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      SO sorry for the confusion, Tori! Thanks a bunch for bringing that to our attention. The link has been updated if you wanted to check again!

  23. Rad

    Can we have our old add to favorites button . I love to save these kind of important post to see n read again n again .

    • KetaCar

      I agree! Otherwise it can be a pain to have to search through for certain ideas or recipes

      • Anna

        Yes please!!! I really miss that

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Hi there! Are you using the app? You can add this to your “cookbook” when clicking on that feature at the top left of the post above. Hope that helps!

      • Jackie

        I’m using the app but I don’t see that feature on the top left.

        • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

          Thanks for the feedback! We have a new updated app coming out very soon and you will be able to use the HipList and Cookbook to save all of your favorites on it!

          • Jackie

            Thank you! Looking forward to the new update 😍

            • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

              You’re very welcome!

  24. Krystal

    For the thermos u have to heat water befor u add ur heated food to keep it warm. I use the kerieg w out a pod so it’s warm water and won’t take forever. I find this works really well.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh I love that tip!! Great idea 💡

  25. Dee

    My tip is to involve your kids with the lunch packing. When I’ve volunteered at schools, I’ve seen beautiful lunches tossed in the trash. If your kid helps decide what goes in, he or she is more likely to eat it. Also, by the time my kids were in upper elementary, they were packing their own lunches with no help. They add stuff to the grocery list that they want, or we are running out of, and I don’t pack their lunches for them at all.

  26. Colorado Amy

    For the insulated food jars, is there one you recommend over another? Also, are they hand wash only or can they go in the dishwasher? I appreciate these new ideas for school lunches. I think my son would like having warm food once in awhile.

    • Jackie

      They are dishwasher safe (most of them). I usually try to buy if it is dishwasher safe, I honestly don’t have the time to hand wash and dry things. I have enough with the water bottles that my kids have that are hand washed every day 🤦‍♀️. We had several and honestly they are all great. Go to The store (target, Walmart or even Marshals) and check them out. They usually have a label saying how long they can stay hot or cold. We have the thermos and contigo ones. There is a thermos one that we have had for almost 10 years now! My son got it when he started kindergarten and he is going to 10th grade now. They are meant to last 👍

  27. Sarah

    I don’t typically buy prepackaged snacks, nor do I bag them separately for at home (these are “special” items purely for convenience and out of the house due to the waste and extra expense), BUT I did find a way to help my kids be more independent about getting their own snacks at home. I bought a couple of inexpensive measuring cup sets and snacks go into easy to open/close containers with a measuring cup. My kids can easily get their own snack during the day while home and know exactly how much to get.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thanks for your tip! That’s a smart idea Sarah!

  28. Cg

    Back to the brown apples again… cut them and soak in apple juice and no you’ll get no strange flavor added. Then toss the apple juice into the fridge for the next time.

    • Kate

      Too cool, I’m going to try this.

  29. Mrs. G

    And raise your hand if your kid is eating in the cafeteria this year! 😂🙌🏻

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Yes! My kids do sometimes as well! 👏

  30. Jennifer

    I’m glad to see these tips since I plan to be more diligent about packing the kids lunches this year. I make a whole loaf of breads worth of uncrustables, put each in a sandwich bag(cheap fold over top bags), put them all back in the bread bag, then put in the freezer. Super easy to throw in the lunch box this way. I have made those protein snack bites and used for breakfast instead of a snack. The protein keeps my kids full until lunch.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Great tips – thanks Jennifer!

  31. Gina G.

    The Pampered Chef Cut & Seal, medium 3-1/2 inch (#1195) is now $12.13 on Amazon.

  32. Bernetta

    Love the banana sandwich idea!! Genius!! Thinking outside the box! Thanks to all the staff on Hip2save!! Y’all are amazing!!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Ah thanks so much Bernetta!

  33. Joanna

    Thanks to the hip2saver on here that suggested purchasing the pampered chef sandwich cutter via eBay. Got one for only $9 brand new. Be sure to use promo code: flash five for an extra $5 off any eBay order…thinks it’s only good for today.

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks, Joanna! I have that Pampered Chef sandwich cutter and LOVE it!

  34. Amymae1100

    Going to have to check out the sandwich cutter, I eat the crust myself lol. I found some reusable bags on Amazon for sandwiches and snacks so I don’t have to use the plastic baggies anymore and they are awesome! Top rack dishwasher safe and inexpensive so if they get lost, or thrown away🤦‍♀️, no biggie, compared to how much you’re saving! I did learn quickly that the zipper ones are the way to go as the fold over ones let things get stale. It’s cool when stuff that saves us money can help the environment too! Thank you H2S for all your awesome savings and ideas!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh nice I’ll have to check those out- thanks so much for stopping by Amy!

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