A selection of school-lunch snacks, including cheese crisps, DIY yogurt tubes, homemade apple sauce, chocolate bliss balls and pudding.

Snacks & Treats

10 Make Ahead Batch-Cooking School-Lunch Snacks

Sep 6, 2017

Mom confession:  I really don’t mind making school lunches. 

I know, I know… That’s crazy, right? If I were to poll my mama friends, I’m sure that the vast majority would say that lunch packing is one daily tasks they just don’t enjoy. So why do I not mind making school lunches when most people loathe it? I think because I have a few simple lunch-making tricks that make the process super doable and painless. One of those tricks is batch making school snacks whenever I have a little bit of extra time and let me tell you — packing lunches is easy peasy when you have a bunch of delicious homemade goodies all ready to go in your pantry, fridge, or freezer. Basically you just have to add some fresh fruit and veggies, and you’re good to go! Not to mention the fact that batch making your own school snacks usually means that they’re more healthful and involve a lot less packaging, which is always a win in my books.

Here are some of my go-to school snacks you can batch make ahead of time with great success...

The BEST Banana Muffins

Freshly baked muffins in a muffin tray.

Whole wheat and free of any added sugar, these muffins are the perfect amount of sweet and totally satisfying. This is also probably the most fool-proof recipe ever, so feel free to change things up a little! Swap out the egg for a flax egg to make it vegan, use seeds instead of walnuts if your child’s school is nut-free, add dark chocolate chips to make it extra special, or make them bite size with a mini muffin tin. Because of the high banana content, I like to keep these in the fridge, but they freeze incredibly well so I usually make a double batch for the freezer and just take them out as needed.

Healthy Chocolate Bliss Balls

A bowl of bliss balls on a picnic table.

Bliss balls of all kinds are an absolute favourite in our house and for good reason. They taste like dessert, they’re usually packed full of protein and nutrients, and they’re super easy to just grab and go. This chocolate-almond version requires only a handful of ingredients and comes together in about 10 minutes, making them as quick and easy as can be. Swap out the almonds for pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds for a nut-free version and store them in a jar in the fridge for a week or more. (Also try: Grain-Free No-Bake Energy Bars)

One-Ingredient Cheese Crisps

Lacy cheese crisps sitting in an open mason jar.

Is there anything better than cheese that’s been baked until crispy? Probably not. And therefore, if you want these to stick around for any amount of time, I highly suggest stashing them away out of sight. They’re that good. While we usually make them on our big pancake griddle, they turn out just as well on a parchment lined baking sheet in a 375 – 400 degree oven. Once done, let them cool completely and pop them into an air-tight jar or container. These can be stored at room temperature for a long while, so hiding them at the back of the pantry is probably your best bet if you’d like them not to disappear immediately.

Real Fruit Yogurt Tubes

A pile of homemade yogurt tubes.

Store bought yogurt tubes seem to be a lunchbox staple these days, but between the sugar content, the colouring, and the packaging, I just couldn’t get on board when my little one started school a couple of years back. As an alternative, we took to making our own using quality yogurt, real fruit, local honey and reusable pouches and we’ve done so ever since. They’re delicious, easy to make, and freeze so well that we usually make a double or triple batch. Eaten at home they’re like a yogurt freezie (which my kids love), but packed in a lunch kit they help things stay cool and are usually back to their yogurt state come recess or lunchtime. (Also try: Greek Yogurt Bark)

Nutritious Breakfast Cookies

A plate of breakfast cookies with pumpkin seeds, raisins and grated carrot.

Does any family not have chaotic, rushed school mornings once and a while? We certainly have our fair share and these make-ahead breakfast cookies are perfect for those days. They also make a fantastic lunchbox cookie as they’re super nutritious while being sweet and treat-like, so I like to have a big batch in the freezer at all times.  On busy mornings I usually just pop a few into a warm oven while helping my little ones get ready for the day and if I’m adding them to lunch boxes, I don’t worry about defrosting them at all.  I just pop them in frozen and by the time snack or lunch time rolls around, they’re soft and ready to eat. (Also try: Breakfast Biscotti)

Homemade Fruit Leather

Rolls of fruit leather fastened with decorative washi tape.

While fruit leather may not be something you’ve considered making at home, it’s incredibly easy!  Making your own also means that you get to control the ingredients (hello, fruit-and-veggie leather!) and that you’ll always have a way to put fruits and veggies on their last legs to good use. You can really use whatever you have in the fridge, but some of our favourites include apple-pear-squash fruit leather, apple-fig fruit leather, and apple-pear-carrot fruit leather. Just slice it up into strips, roll them up, and secure them with washi tape or baker’s twine and you’ve got a fantastic lunchbox treat that will last ages in an air-tight container in the pantry.

Egg Cups

Egg cups that have been baked in muffin cups. They contain broccoli, red pepper, potatoes and bacon.

Full of protein and all kinds of yummy add-ins, egg cups make a fantastic sandwich alternative! Fill them with bacon, cheese, veggies (potatoes, peppers and broccoli are our favourites), or whatever else your kiddos might enjoy, bake them up, and store in an air-tight container in the fridge for the school week. These are fantastic made in a mini muffin tin also.

Mini Pancakes

A stack of pancakes with a dollop of whipped cream and pecans sprinkled on top.

While pancakes might seem like a strange lunchbox addition, they freeze incredibly well and my kiddos gobble them up anytime of the day, so they’re on regular school lunch rotation in our house. To make things really easy, I like to double the recipe when making breakfast and pop the extras into the freezer in a zip-close bag or container. When it’s time to make lunches, I just pop them in as is, make pancake sandwiches by adding a generous layer of nut or seed butter between two pancakes, or make pancake skewers using the smallest pancakes, some berries, and a food pick. Use your go-to pancake recipe or try one of our favourites — whole wheat pumpkin spice pancakes or lemon poppyseed pancakes.

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Chocolate chia pudding in a small mason jar with a slice of strawberry on top and sprinkled with coconut.

Super nutritious, but tastes like dessert! If you’ve not yet delved into the world of chia pudding, you must. Chia seeds pack a serious punch nutrition wise (they contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fibre, antioxidants, calcium, and more) and because they swell up when placed in liquid, make a lovely pudding. The texture ends up being somewhat like a tapioca pudding which might be new to your kiddos, but paired with it’s chocolate milk flavour, my guess is that it’ll be a hit. Make a big batch of this at the beginning of the week, divide it up into small containers or mini mason jars, and pop it into the fridge for a ready-made snack that will last the school week. Of course, you’ll need to pack a spoon too!

Slow-Cooker Apple Sauce

Three jars of slow-cooker applesauce next to a bright red apple.

It doesn’t get much easier than slow cooker apple sauce! We usually make a couple of batches of this at the beginning of fall, divide the sauce up into mini mason jars, and pop some into the fridge to use immediately and some in the freezer to use later on. This recipe is delicious as is, but don’t be afraid to switch this recipe up a little bit either! Blueberries, strawberries, and peaches are all lovely additions. And if your child’s school requires lunches to be glass-free, small plastic containers or reusable squeeze pouches work great too.

Well, there you have it — 10 kid-approved recipes that keep well and make packing school lunches a breeze. Happy new school year!

Article Author Jen Kossowan
Jen Kossowan

See all of Jen's posts.

Jen is a teacher, blogger, and mama to a spirited little lady and a preemie baby boy. She's passionate about play, loves a good DIY project, adores travelling, and can often be found in the kitchen creating recipes that meet her crunchy mama criteria. You can follow Jen on her blog, Mama.Papa.Bubba, and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Add New Comment

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.