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My oldest daughter is going to first grade this year and she is most excited about riding the bus and eating lunch at school. I’m secretly hoping that she’ll buy lunch so I don’t have to worry about packing everyday, but if she wants to pack, I have a plan: Make everything ahead of time!

Easy and Healthy School Lunches That You Can Make Ahead of Time

Last week, I made snack bins for our fridge and pantry with lots of healthy snacks.  Then, I made 12 mini ham and cheese sandwiches and stuck them in the refrigerator too.  Overall, it took me less than 40 minutes and the snacks will last us a long time.  Yay!

Combine a sandwich with two snacks in a paper bag and lunch is good-to-go.

Make-Ahead Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

Yields: 12 mini sandwiches


  • A pack of 12 slider buns
  • Sliced or chipped deli ham (about 3/4 pound)
  • 12 slices of American cheese (about 1/2 pound)


  1. Cut 12 pieces of plastic wrap and lay them on the kitchen counter in an assembly line.
  2. Top each piece of plastic wrap with a slider bun, and then add ham and cheese.
  3. Wrap and place in refrigerator for up to three days (although I ate one five days later and it was still fine).

To Freeze

  1. Wrap sandwiches in plastic wrap or sandwiches bags.
  2. Store in gallon-sized plastic freezer bags in the freezer for up to a month.
  3. To thaw, add to a lunch box in the morning and it will be ready to eat by lunch time.

Make-Ahead Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

Make-Ahead Snack Ideas

  • Blueberries
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Baby carrots
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Clementines
  • Cheddar cheese sticks
  • Mozzarella string cheese sticks
  • Yogurt
  • Peeled hardboiled eggs
  • Clif bars
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Graham crackers
  • Granola bars
  • Applesauce pouches
  • Pretzels
  • Raisins
  • Almonds (if nuts are allowed at your school)
  • Trailmix (watch for nuts)
  • Dips (like hummus, ranch dressing, or peanut butter if allowed)

Make-Ahead Healthy Snack Bins for Kids

Thoughts or ideas?  Please leave a comment below!  I’d love to hear from you.  XO, Kelly

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7 years ago

Will they not get soggy??

Jill Petrush Rogers
7 years ago
Reply to  Lisa

Lisa, this container is open between the compartments…so yes, depending on what’s in the container it could be soggy.

7 years ago

Won’t the sandwiches get soggy being made ahead?


[…] a little inspiration for your kids lunches and love to prep ahead, be sure to try out this list of Easy & Healthy School Lunches You Can Make Ahead of Time by New Leaf […]

ann saylor
7 years ago

great idea! do you make your own applesauce pouches or buy them?

Jill Petrush Rogers
7 years ago
Reply to  ann saylor

Ann, I’ve done both!