School lunches made easy, healthy and affordable with bulk-baking freezer-friendly lunch box recipe ideas that will take the chaos out of your mad mornings.
School mornings can end up chaotic, but with a little routine and planning you can make the school lunch packing madness a simple and easy process. During the school holidays I spend a few hours doing a big bake up, making snacks and lunches to have on hand to place into the kid’s lunchboxes. I have quite a few go-to favourite freezer-friendly lunch box recipes, and you’ll be happy to know that I have conveniently packaged these together in my very easy to follow Lunch Box Recipe Cookbook for you.
The cookbook includes over 50 freezer-friendly recipes that make for perfect no-fridge, no-heat lunches ideal for school, work, or even picnics! There’s muffins, cookies, quiches, bliss balls, scrolls, scones and more. The day I bake them I place them all in the freezer, and then I simply grab a few out on school mornings and pack into the lunchboxes frozen. They are perfectly defrosted and fresh by morning tea time.
There are a few benefits to filling your freezer with a bulk bake-up:
- Saves money not buying pre-made items from the bakery or grocery store
- Controls sugar content
- Mean you always have something available to pack into lunchboxes
- Makes school mornings less chaotic
Below I will share my process for when I plan my big freezer lunchbox bake up.
1. ENSURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH EQUIPMENT, STORAGE & ROOM
ROOM IN YOUR FREEZER – The best starting point is to ensure you have enough room in your freezer to store how much you want to bake up. I am lucky enough to have an extra fridge and freezer in our garage that stores drinks and all my freezer baking.
FREEZER SAFE CONTAINERS – An airtight container is best to protect your baked goods from freezer burn. Ideally you want the container large enough to fit on the shelf of your freezer and to fit a full batch of muffins or biscuits. I prefer rectangle or square containers over round, as round containers waste precious space in the freezer.
I have been using containers that I have had for years but noticed they are no longer airtight, so I’m on the look out for new airtight containers. These Decor clip containers have been great so far.
BAKING TRAYS – Have a muffin pan or baking sheets on hand for scrolls and cookies. I like to use silicone muffin pans for my mini quiches to prevent the puff pastry from sticking.
We now stock a great range of silicone bakeware! It’s steel reinforced edges makes them sturdy, and they are very easy to clean. Unlike traditional bakeware, items cooked in silicone release easily from the sides and generally do not stick. See our range here.
SILICONE MAT – I like to use silicone mats on my biscuit baking trays instead of baking paper as it saves money and reduces landfill.
COOLING RACKS – It’s ideal to transfer your baked items off the baking trays to allow them to cool on cooling racks. This will prevent them from cooking any further or going soggy. I place a tablecloth over the dining table and lay out the oven racks as I find this easier than taking over the kitchen bench and reducing my space in the kitchen.
2. GATHER TOGETHER RECIPES
Gather together a few recipes that you would like to bake, remembering to create variety. I typically bake:
- 2-3 batches of muffins
- 2 batches of biscuits
- 2 batches of scrolls
- 1 batch of quiche or sausage rolls
- 1 batch of something sweet – scones, banana bread or pikelets
You can find a really good variety of these snacks in my Lunch Box Recipe Cookbook, which is packed with all my favourite sweet and savoury snacks! All the recipes are affordable and nut free (but packed with lots of hidden veggies), and range from muffins and cookies, to bliss balls, slices and more! The cookbook provides the entire family (kids and adults alike) with quick and healthy alternatives to boring lunch box sandwiches.
3. PLAN THE TIME FOR A BAKING SESSION
It may sound ridiculous to some, but I block out time in my calendar for my freezer baking session. There was one school holiday period that I didn’t and I ran out of time to do a big bake up, then the following weekends I was busy running kids around that I just didn’t get time to do it – it was then that I realised how much I appreciated having a freezer full of lunchbox snacks! So now I block out 3-4 hours in my calendar or planner to ensure I have enough time to get it all done.
The Organised Housewife 2020 Planner and Wall Calendar book featured a baking section to make this process even easier for you. Alas they both ran off the shelves, but you can add yourself to the waitlist for our 2021 goodies so that you don’t miss out next year!
4. WRITE YOUR SHOPPING LIST
I created this Pineapple Shopping List Notepad to make shopping easier for myself, and am thrilled to now offer them to you as well! I have designed them so that the easy to understand categories prevent you running up and down the aisles at the supermarket, and the playful design will help paste a smile on your dial too!
5. GET GROCERIES
I like to purchase my groceries the day before my big bake up session as I like to do my baking in the early morning, and that way I have the rest of the day to spend with my family.
I recently started doing my grocery shopping online, which has made my big bake-ups so much easier! I now simply order my ingredients direct from my phone (whilst I’m going through my cookbook), then arrange a convenient time to pick them up. It saves me the hassle of crowds, plus helps me save heaps of money too.
6. READ THROUGH YOUR RECIPES
Read through your recipes to see if there is anything that needs pre-prepping, soaking, marinating, cooling etc. This will give you a good indication of what you should bake first. I usually bake whatever recipe is required longest in the oven first, so then I can prepare the next recipe as it’s baking. All the recipes in my Lunch Box Recipe Cookbook are super simple and don’t require a huge amount of time to bake.
7. STORING FREEZABLE BAKING
On the day I make the baked items I place them directly into an airtight container to ensure they are frozen as fresh as can be. I don’t use any freezer sheets or freezer bags as I find if using a good quality airtight container they’re simply not needed, which then eliminates the extra expense and waste. Freezing on the same day as baking means that when defrosted they will be just as fresh as the day they were baked.
*unfortunately these containers are no longer available.
8. DON’T FORGET TO LABEL
I use masking tape on my containers to easily identify what’s in the container. This makes it quick and easy for me to get out the school snacks that I need when preparing lunchboxes on a busy school morning.
9. CREATE A LUNCHBOX PLAN
Plan a few weeks of lunchbox ingredients in one sitting to ensure your delicious baking doesn’t go to waste, whilst also making sure you know exactly what you need to buy in you weekly grocery shop.
Planning food for lunch boxes is essential, and is really easy to do with My Lunch Box Planner Pad. With this pad you can take the stress and guess-work out of creating healthy nutritious school lunches for your children by checking in advance that you have all the right food in your fridge and pantry. At the beginning of each week plan what food you need to add to your grocery list to fill their lunch boxes for the week, and then use this planner to plan it out. There are 40 pages in this pad which is enough to get you through the entire school year, however I like to reuse a lot of my weekly lunchbox plans, so it may last you even longer!
10. GET THE RIGHT LUNCHBOX
There are so many different varieties of school lunch boxes, lunch bags, and water bottles to choose from that choosing the right one can be a bit overwhelming. Make sure that you choose one that will fit enough food for your child, as well as easily accommodate the kind of food you like to pack. If you want help making this choice, check out my 2020 Guide To Choosing The Best School Lunchbox For Kids And Teens.
There you go, that’s my tips on how to prepare for a big lunchbox freezer baking session. I hope these tips help you to create a little calm on those chaotic school mornings.
PLAN YOUR DINNERS – Create a plan for your lunches and meals so you will eat balanced meals throughout the week. Planning ahead will save you on those busy nights that you can plan an easy dish or slow cooker meal rather than getting take out.
SHOP: A4 Weekly Lunch and Dinner Planner is available as an instant download, several designs to choose from.
What do you find most challenging when it comes to packing lunch boxes?
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