The Best Grocery Store Buys for No-Guilt Lunch Box Shortcuts

updated May 1, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Samantha Bolton)

First, let’s agree that anything that makes feeding our kids easier, faster, or smarter should automatically get a pass on guilty feelings. Lunch box shortcuts help us make the make the most of lunch packing so that we can be less stressed and actually spend more time with our kids. Having packed over 1,200 hundred lunches from preschool to now kindergarten, I have tried almost every hack, shortcut, and tip for packing lunches, and these are the products worth the cost for getting lunches packed more quickly — while still making them wholesome and delicious.

There are some essential grocery items that make lunch packing easier and faster, but they are also your typical pantry staples that should almost always be in your grocery cart. Below are my favorite shortcuts that help on busy weeks, beyond the staples.

Get your grocery list here: The Essential School Lunch Grocery List

1. Flatbreads

Pita, naan, or even actual flatbread are a fine substitute for sandwich bread, but they can also be a blank canvas for pizzas and transform into crisp crackers you pack with dip.

(Image credit: Samantha Bolton)

2. Frozen Waffles

I probably throw breakfast-for-lunch in lunch boxes once a week. Some weeks its hard-boiled eggs and bacon, but in a pinch I add frozen waffles right to a lunch box and they thaw before lunch. Run out of sandwich bread and flatbread? Waffles to the rescue!

3. Frozen Peas and Corn

On the mornings where lunch packing is particularly harried, I pour frozen peas or corn into lunch box compartments. They thaw quickly, require zero prep work, and both my kids will eat them.

(Image credit: Samantha Bolton)

4. Hummus

I love homemade hummus, I really do, but those proportioned cups of hummus have saved me so much snack packing time! Plus, when dipping is the name of the lunch game, proportioned hummus is neatly contained until its time to eat.

5. Packaged Meatballs

This is a rather recent addition to my lunch shortcut rotation. Whether you choose frozen or fresh packed (think: those packaged near hotdogs like Aidell’s) pre-cooked meatballs are flavorful, fun, and already portioned for packing.

6. Chicken Nuggets

Stick a few in the toaster oven while you make coffee, pack snacks, eat breakfast in the morning, and then pack them in a thermos. You’ll basically be a hero in your kids’ eyes.

Now, tell me! What ingenious shortcuts do you use for faster lunches?