How to Overcome the Overwhelm that is School Lunch – Part 3

Cold School Lunch Ideas

The Hassle – School Lunch

School lunch is a headache. You plan, shop, and prepare a wonderful homemade lunch and then your kid refuses to eat it. This feels like a no win situation and you’re ready to quit.

Don’t quit! We are here to help!

In fact, we are working to Overcome the Overwhelm and create a school lunch system that works.

Here’s what the school lunch system offers:

  • A meal plan lunch calendar with 20 different meals
  • One week of healthier lunches
  • One week of budget friendly lunches
  • Week by week grocery shopping lists including average individual meal costs
  • Bonus – some of the meals can be made for dinner and sent the next day as leftovers

This system has actionable steps you can use to simplify school lunch. These steps can be easily repeated over and over again to consistently achieve a successful outcome.

The Solution – Keep Working, It’s Worth the Effort

Systems are great because they can change. If something isn’t working, change things around until it does work. Trial and error is often the best way to test out a system. You won’t know if it works until you try.

Are you going through the action steps to create your own system? Are you waiting for the recipes and shopping lists? Either way, we are here to help. This is Part 3 of Overcoming the Overwhelm that is School Lunch.

If you are just starting, here’s a link to Part 1 and Part 2. These are the main points from the first two articles.

Part 1 – Prepare

In Part 1 is all about looking for school lunch ideas online. There are tons of great ideas.

With your kids, select 20 lunch ideas they will eat and add them to a calendar. Variety can be good, but try to keep meals that have similar ingredients together. This helps reduce costs and food waste.

Add the ingredients to your shopping list.

Have your kids take ownership over their own lunch. Allow them to prepare as much of their lunch as possible. They are more likely to eat something they have chosen and made themselves.

Part 2 – Move forward with your plan

In Part 2 the ingredients were purchased and your kids are helping to prepare their lunches. My family hit a rough patch in Part 2. None of these challenges are new or unique to our family. I realized I really need to commit to changing my behaviors if I want the school lunch problem to get better.

Here are a few of the challenges we faced:

  1. No grocery shopping = lunches aren’t made as planned
  2. No prep work = lunches weren’t made as planned
  3. Didn’t stick to dinner plans = left overs for lunch couldn’t happen as planned

Instead of seeing these challenges as failures, I see them as opportunities to improve. So many aspects of family life are interwoven. You start improving one area only to realize there are other challenges to overcome. You fix one problem only to find five more problems.

Despite what may seem like one challenge after another, it truly is worth the effort!. Keep moving forward to create a school lunch system that works for you!

The How – One Week is DONE!

Success! One week of the school lunch meal plan is complete!

This link School Lunch Meal Plan Week 1 is for a google doc. You’re welcome to save a copy to your own drive which will allow you to edit the document.

Meal Plans in PDF format are below.

Week 1 School Lunch Meal Plan PDF

Week 1 School Lunch Grocery List PDF

Here are the recipe links that didn’t come through on the PDFs:


Turkey and grape protein skewers

Nutella and banana sushi

Turkey bacon ranch wraps

What do you think about Week 1? Let us know if this is a helpful resource and if you cannot wait for the rest of the meal plans.

The Support – Continue Forward


I will continue working on lunch meal plans and grocery lists for the remaining weeks. My hope is these plans will provide a starting place for you. If something doesn’t  work for your family, change up the plan and make it  work – use ingredients you already have or buy ingredients that are on sale that week.

As I’ve said before, I don’t have all of the answers. But, my hope is to motivate you to raise Active and Happy kids. I’m motivated to help  you live your best life. Today, I want to provide encouragement, ideas and systems that will help you Overcome and Overwhelm that is School Lunch

One additional thought came up this week – how to package the lunches. These meals need to stay cold and fresh outside of a refrigerator for hours.

We have two products we absolutely love and definitely recommend.

The first reusable snack bags we ever tried were Itzy Ritzy Reusable Snack Bags. It was love at first use and honestly, after years and years these bags are still going strong. Thinking it was too good to be true, I have tried other reusable bags. So far nothing has compared to the Itzy Ritzy bags.

Another product that is difficult to get right are reusable water bottles. Some have multiple parts that are difficult to clean while others don’t hold up well and start leaking. And to add to the problem, they usually aren’t cheap.

Our family favorite are Contigo water bottles. The only real issue we have had are after the all plastic ones are repeatedly dropped, they will often start leaking. The insulated contigo water bottles are great for keeping liquids cold or hot. Overall, the Contigo brand has worked best for us and are highly recommended.

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