At the start of the school year, maybe you’re inspired to make your kids’ lunchboxes look just like those gorgeous bento box pics on Pinterest. A few months in, though, that enthusiasm may start to wane as the days get shorter and homework help sessions get longer.

But lack of time doesn't mean your only option is to toss in processed pre-packaged foods. SafeBee combed through some of our favorite parenting and food blogs for easy, time-saving ways to pack lunchboxes with cute, nutritious foods kids will actually eat. And maybe — just maybe — they won’t trade their food for a cupcake.

Related: Parenting Hacks from Mom Bloggers We Love

Making dinner? Make extra

Linda Spiker, who writes The Organic Kitchen blog, says what she finds exhausting about school lunches is not the time it takes to pack them, but the endless cycle of coming up with ideas and prepping food. She solved those two problems with this advice:

“You are cooking dinner anyway so ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS make extra and use it for lunches the next day! It’s a total timesaver! If you are roasting chicken, roast two... If you are cooking pasta, cook more. You get it.”

Spiker also doesn’t shy away from prepared food. But, she writes, make sure you read labels. Prepared hummus and fruit or veggie dips are probably OK, but take a pass on processed meats with ingredients you don’t use and can’t pronounce.

Read more of her advice and see a week’s worth of menu options here.

Related: How to Make Your Kids’ School Lunches Healthier

Pack less food

Yes, you read that right. Food waste is a huge problem in schools, with kids throwing out a surprisingly large portion of their lunch, whether it's home-packed or not. Packing less food in their lunchboxes means they’ll actually eat more, writes Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, on The Lunch Tray blog.

“Big lunches can be overwhelming, especially to small people: Most students have very little time to eat lunch — maybe 20 minutes, a lot of which is spent gabbing with friends and figuring out how to open their assorted eco-friendly containers. Large amounts of food may seem insurmountable and therefore, get ignored.”

Read more of her “less is more” advice here.

Make your freezer your friend

On the Money Saving Mom blog, Crystal Paine offers a week’s worth of freezer-friendly lunches and includes recipes for each one.

And on the Charleston Moms Blog, Shara Ray writes about stocking your freezer with food you can throw into a lunchbox in the morning. By lunch it will be thawed and ready to eat.

“I love the idea of smoothies. Healthy AND yummy. But they are kind of a pain to make every morning…but, if I make several and freeze them, by the time the kids’ lunchtime rolls around, they should be nice and thawed in the lunchbox!”

Also, check out her great ideas for muffin-tin lunches you can freeze, reheat in the morning and wrap in foil for lunch later that day.

Related: Preventing Food Waste in Schools

Angela is a Pulitzer Prize-winning digital editor with more than 15 years of experience delivering news and information to audiences worldwide. Prior to joining SafeBee, she was the features editor for at The Boston Globe, overseeing health, travel, entertainment, business and lifestyle coverage. Before moving to features, she was the news and homepage editor, covering stories such as the Boston Marathon bombing, Red Sox World Series victories, presidential elections, a papal inauguration, and more. Her favorite safety tip: Clean your phone! The average cell phone has 18 times more germs than the toilet handle in a men’s restroom.