5-Minute Lunch Box

Time to leave for school and you don’t have the lunch box ready? You need 5-minute lunches.

The key to making your quickie lunch preparation work is to keep ingredients on hand. Know what your child will eat. While you are pulling things together, keep a balance between proteins, fruits and vegetables, and grains.

Leftover Salad

  • Start with rice or pasta
  • Add protein: diced meat or beans
  • Add cheese: squares, shredded, or feta chunks
  • Add vegetables: diced zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, avocado
  • Add salad dressing (keep it vinegar and oil based if the lunch won’t be refrigerated)


  • Savory: black beans, refried beans, guacamole, salsa, hummus, eggplant, spinach, cream cheese, pesto
  • Sweet: yogurt, applesauce, cream cheese
  • Dippers: fruit or cut vegetables, crackers, or tortilla chips
  • Bonus for the 6-minute lunch: cut the fruits or veg or cheese into shapes


  • The dips above can be spreads as well.
  • Spread on crackers or simple cookies, like vanilla wafers or graham crackers
  • If the spread will soften the crackers or cookies, keep them separate and add a celery stick for spreading.

Fruit and veg

  • Easiest: grapes, blueberries, orange slices (my son asked me to add that one)
  • Half fruit cut: apple cut to show the 5-pointed star, kiwi. Colorful and interesting.
  • Cut veggies: not just carrots and celery but broccoli, zucchini, and mushrooms
  • No time to cut veggies for 4-minute lunch: peas in a pod


  • Use different bread
  • Tortillas are very easy. Try peanut butter spirals: spread nearly to edge, roll up tightly, then cut into ½” slices. Spirals!

Trail mix

  • Nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, wasabi peas
  • Raisins, craisins
  • Chocolate chips


  • Frozen juice or frozen yogurt. Just keep a few in the freezer.

When you clear dinner, pack anything appropriate into small containers that you can easily put into a lunch box.

Especially if lunches aren’t refrigerated, be sure to add a frozen gel pack to keep food cool and out of the bacteria danger zone.

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