Packed lunch ideas for people who hate making packed lunches

I hate making packed lunches.

I can just about create something for myself if I know that’s all that stands between me and certain starvation, but I don’t like it. 

The main reason my kids have school dinners (however much horse or other rogue animal might be in them) is because I couldn’t bear to be buttering bread, dreaming up fillings, stuffing it into lunch boxes (named top and bottom) and then remembering to hand the damn things over. 

Specifically here’s what I hate: 

  • Plastic boxes and their intrinsic inability to be in the same house as their lid… at the same time. 
  • Lunch envy – there’s always some smug person scoffing an organic and fresh looking concoction of something with exactly the perfect implement. 
  • Leaks and squashes – no not innovative ingredients, what happens to at least 50 per cent of all packed lunches (except for other people’s). The aforementioned plastic box lid, in its attempt to escape the box, will cause leakage… usually smelly leakage. And anything that doesn’t leak will be mashed to unappetising. 
  • Ideas. All the stick-waving in the world wouldn’t cover the screeds of ‘lunch box ideas’ that have been written. There are menus of suggestions taking you through whole weeks. But, when you look a bit more closely they require more planning, organisation and specialist equipment (boxes with lids that fit and plastic cutlery) than I can afford. Here’s my lunch box idea: make lunch, put it in a box. 
  • Tuna-morphosis. I like tuna – it’s handy, healthy stuff. But as soon as you put it into a packed lunch of any description it becomes stinky, fishing and revolting. 
  • Stock horror. It doesn’t matter how often I put it on the list, or, even, actually buy it, there is never, ever any nice peanut butter or proper pickle in the house when I want it. 
However hard I try, though, it is not possible to avoid the need for packed lunches sometime. New continents can’t get explored if you’re expecting to pop home at noon for some soup and toast, can they? 

Therefore, for many years I began formulating my own solution to food on the go. Until recently I kept it a secret – tucking in away from the smug sarnie merchants. But now I’m out and proud. 

Here are the picnic ideas for people who hate making picnics and can’t get to M&S:
  • Cold beans – really not that bad once you get used to them. 
  • Soreen lunch box loaves – unwrap and stuff in your mouth. Champion. 
  • Cold sausages – cooked first, of course. Or warm if you put them into a wide-necked Thermos, although this is dangerously close to proper packed-lunch territory. 
  • Oatcakes and processed cheese (in a tube preferably) – tell onlookers it’s wheat-free for added  value. 
  • Kids’ yoghurts in tubes or other weird-shaped containers.
  • Bananas – one of the five a day that comes in a handy wrapper, though there is some risk of squashing. 
  • Pizza calzone. Bit of a cheat – cook pizza and fold in half while warm. It will look like you did it on purpose. 
  • Solid leftovers: Not congealed, just not  sloppy so as to avoid leakage. Tortilla, pie, bacon, fishfingers and any sort of loaf/rissole/burger type creation. 
  • Popcorn: If you ping some for an after-school treat for the kids, stash a few handfuls away in a plastic bag and hay-presto, more effortless lunchbox fodder. 


I am being paid to talk about Soreen as part of a campaign by Mumpanel, but I really do hate making packed lunches and consider it a staple part of a picnic. 

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  1. says

    I hear ya, sister!
    I despise, hate and abhor making packed lunches!
    I currently make 6 lunches and 3 packed teas a week and my children are only at nursery – roll on school lunches.
    It is not just the lack of boxes, squashiness and leaks that gets me, it is the tedium and complete chore of it.
    In another life, it would have been a serious consideration in my nursery choice if I had known what a bore it is.
    In our house it is pretty repetitive if i am in charge (ham sandwiches + yoghurt), but if the other mother does them our boys get delightful well thought out lunches with sandwiches shaped like lorries, hard boiled eggs and humus and dips.

  2. says

    have you ever popped over to see what we're doing at Lunchbox World? We try and keep it fun and make sure it's quick and easy! I hear you though, it is so easy to get in a rut… Please hop over and let me know what you think?

  3. says

    I absolutely hate making packed lunches – it is the one thing I celebrate about the holidays(and even then I have to make some when they are forced to go to the odd holiday club). I inevitably leave the making 'til about midnight and I absolutely have to do it – if I left it 'til the morning we'd never get to school. My kids have packed lunches 3 x week and school lunches 2 x week. If I could afford it they would have school lunches every day but I just can't justify the expense, but I cannot bear the thought of making them days a week so they have packed lunches on the days I work as I have to make lunch for me anyway. I don't have any extra tips -just to say I'm with you!

  4. Anonymous says

    this helped me so much! I needed ideas for packed lunches, for homework ! I also showed my mum the sight and she loved it!

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