Originally published August 4, 2017 and updated June 5, 2021.
A meal planner printable for a lunch box planner makes back-to-school and the entire school year much easier. You can get this free printable planner or a free automated version, plus tips that will make making healthy school lunches your kids will actually eat a snap.
Back-to-school time is so exciting. I look forward to the anticipation of new experiences and adventures for my kids and family. But all the excitement wears off for me by about the second week of lunch making. I quickly find that I’ve run out of lunch ideas and dread the mornings of groggily trying to piece together a lunch that my kids will like and I’ll be happy for them to eat. No more lunch dreading this year. I’m using this Back-to-School Lunch Box Planner for stress-free mornings and lunches that will make everyone happy.
Early in the morning is not my best time of day. Trying to figure out a lunch that my children will like and I will be satisfied sending with them is tough in the foggy chaos of weekday mornings. I want their lunch to power their entire day of learning and growing at school and be something they’ll be excited to eat.
What should I put in my child’s lunchbox?
- Nutritious foods that provide a balanced meal
- Foods that hold up well in a lunchbox without refrigeration
- Foods that your child likes
- A variety of foods – This is an opportunity to introduce your child to new foods in addition to balancing your child’s nutrition with a wide variety of different foods.
- Foods that fit into your budget
- Foods that are easy to prepare
- A napkin – You make make reusable themed cloth napkins with this simple tutorial
- A note of encouragement or a fun healthy lunch activity
Back-to-School Lunch Box Planner
Why Use a Lunch Planner
- Makes it easier to plan a variety of mom and kid approved lunches
- Makes to more likely your child will actually eat the lunch
- Makes it easier for you to plan your shopping list
- Saves you time in the morning wondering what to make for lunch
- Saves you time all year long because you can use the same monthly planner over and over again
The free printable meal planner for lunchboxes allows you to plan out an entire month of lunches and snacks. I’ve also created a free automated version on AirTable, so you can choose which you prefer. I share links to both versions below.
It’s easy to schedule a variety of lunches so your child won’t be bored with the same old thing day after day. It also ensures that each lunch is filled with mom-approved choices. Simply fill in the categories for each day.
- Main Dish
- Extra Snack – If your child eats a morning or afternoon snack at school.
Take time to brainstorm with your child. Ask them their favorite choices for each category.
Grab the list of ideas you brainstormed with your child, your calendar and a cup of coffee. Fill in each day of the calendar with each of the lunch items. Your goal is to plan balanced lunches for each day that your child will like and a variety of meals throughout each week and the entire month.
In filling out the School Lunch Planner Calendar, consider:
- Balanced meals that you approve of
- Food choices that your child likes and will eat
- Holidays and other scheduled events that may impact lunch choices
- Seasonal fruits and vegetables
- Meals that can be made ahead
Get your own copy of the free Back-to-School Lunch Planner when you sign up for our free newsletter. One you sign up, you’ll promptly be sent an email with a link to the pdf of the planner.
If you prefer, I created an AirTable kids lunch planner. This automated version of the lunchbox planner operates on AirTable. You can gain access to this easy to use automated tool when you sign up for our free weekly newsletter. Even if you only use it for your own kids lunch planner, it is more than worth signing up since it’s free. And it’s easy to use, so you’ll most likely find yourself using AirTable to manage your own personal and work life.
Having a lunch that my kids will love makes all the difference in their day. They’ll enjoy lunch and they’ll actually eat everything so they have the nutrition they need to succeed in their day. Lunch should be a happy highlight to their school day. Every day. And the lunch planner helps me make sure that happens. Every day.
It’s easy to make my favorite, the nostalgic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, even more fun with a smiley face.
- Simply place about 2 tablespoons of jam in a plastic sandwich
- Snip a small portion of one corner off
- Squeeze the jam onto the peanut butter
- Make a smiley face design
- Write your child’s name
- Make an emoji
My favorite sources for healthy lunch ideas that kids actually like
- Healthy recipes that focus on how kids can help make them from Kitchen Stewardship.
- Julie Relevant shares recipes and ideas to turn picky eaters into little foodies that love veggies.
- Wondermom Wannabe has both lunch ideas and free printable lunchbox notes.
More Meal Planner Ideas
- Family Meal Planning – Family meal planning and accommodating family member meal preferences doesn’t have to be complicated with these free printable worksheets and tips.
- Family Meal Planner Program – Why use a family meal planner program and what should you look for in one? In-depth tips and a review of The Dinner Daily weekly menu planner service.
- Monthly Meal Planner – A Free 6-page monthly meal planner to create reusable meal plans that you can use over and over again – saving time & money so you can eat much better.
- Organize a Holiday Meal Planner – Tips to organize a holiday meal here with you and it revolves around my free printable holiday meal planner.
Print out your copy of the free meal planner printable Back-to-School Lunch Box Planner and plan your child’s favorite lunches for the each month of the year. And pin so you can always find this resource each new school year.
For more back-to-school ideas, printables and recipes check out the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.
I’m a mom of 3, a veteran and military spouse. I’ve moved into 20+ homes all around the world. My passion is helping busy people make the space and time for what’s really important to them.