Making packed lunches is up there as one of my all-time worst parenting jobs, right alongside tidying the craft cupboard and applying eye drops. So when we received news from school that hot meals are being axed in favour of packed lunches, my heart sank! The options offered by the school didn’t really work for us, so I’m faced with a term of making lunch boxes every day for two kids. Time to get my thinking cap on as we prepare to go back-to-school.

My biggest issue with packed lunches is a lack of imagination. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of making the same lunch every day, just because you know the kids will eat it. With my youngest starting school in September I know from past experience, how hungry he will be. So with that in mind, I’m determined to get organised to make satisfying lunches with the least possible effort. Here’s my plan:

Get the right box

We have been through a lot of lunch boxes but the ones I think work the best are leakproof and have some separated compartments. We have the Sistema Bento lunchbox but we hear lots of good things about Yumbox too.

Keep it simple

School mornings are busy in the Lister house and I need to keep the lunches as simple as possible. There will be no fruit kebabs, starfish sandwiches or carving cucumbers despite the inspiring pictures I’ve seen on Instagram.

Back to School Mini Photography Sessions

Divide it up

Inspired by the kids lunch boxes you get in cafes, I’ve come up with some categories of what should go in the box everyday. This is balanced to include all the healthy stuff along with some tasty treats. This will make my shopping easier too as it means I can tick off each section and know I’m covered. Check out my handy table below

Let the kids choose

Once I’d decided on the categories, I sat down with my eldest daughter and worked out what could go in each section. Keeping allergies in mind, we’ve come up with sandwich fillings I know they will eat, fruit and veg they like as well as choices for the all important treat and crunchy snack.

Here is the finished product. An easy to use lunch box structure that has been chosen by the kids and is low effort for me. I hope this helps with your back-to-school preparation so you can concentrate on the important job of settling them back in.

My name is Katie Lister and I’m a Surrey family photographer living in Hersham. My 2020 ‘Back to School’ mini photography sessions will take place on Saturday 12th September 2020. If you’d like me to capture happy and relaxed school photographs of your child or children, get in touch today (packed lunch not provided).


  • Sliced bread
  • Thin
  • Bagel
  • Wrap
  • Pizza
  • Pasta


  • Ham
  • Cheese
  • Tuna


  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Raw carrot
  • Pepper


  • Yoghurt
  • Fromage Frais
  • Babybel

Something Crunchy

  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Veggie straws
  • Breadsticks
  • Mini cheddars
  • Rice Cakes
  • Crackers
  • Pitta chips


  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Smoothie
  • Apple/pear
  • Banana
  • Satsuma
  • Blueberries


  • Pancake
  • Malt Loaf
  • Homemade flapjack
  • Low sugar muffin
  • Brioche
  • Jelly