How to Organize Snacks and Lunches to Encourage Independence

How to Organize Snacks + Lunches via Clean Mama

We’re halfway through the summer and one of the best things I did at the start of the summer was to take a little time to organize some snack and lunch options for the kids to access.  Maybe it’s just my kids but it seems like they’re always hungry and this really helps because they can quickly choose a snack and aren’t standing in front of an open fridge looking for something to eat.  They don’t have open access to these areas any time of the day, but if they need an afternoon snack, they can choose one thing from the refrigerator or pantry.  Even the littlest member of house likes being able to choose a snack or put together a couple components of lunch too.

A couple purchased snacks and lunch items, zip top bags, and some storage bins are all you’ll need to give your kids some independence and healthy snack and lunch choices.  (I found the bins pictured here at Target and Amazon).

Snack and Lunch Ideas via Clean Mama

Snack and Lunch Ideas:

  • yogurt
  • yogurt tubes (in the freezer)
  • cheese and cheese sticks
  • pretzels
  • popcorn
  • crackers
  • nuts
  • cereal bars
  • fruit – oranges, apples, prepped seasonal fruit
  • apple sauce
  • guacamole – great for dipping veggies in
  • veggies – carrots, cucumbers, peppers, snap peas, small tomatoes
  • dried fruit

Measure Out Serving Sizes and Put in Zip Top Bags via Clean Mama

Use a measuring cup to portion sizes and put in a zip top bag.

Mix Up Different Crackers for Your Own Custom Mix via Clean Mama

Mix up a couple types of different crackers to make a snack mix.

Keep Snacks in Bins to Keep them Organized via Clean Mama

Once you’ve portioned out the snacks and lunch components, put them in an accessible place – I keep bins in the pantry and the refrigerator.

Keep Refrigerated Snacks Accessible via Clean Mama

What else would you add?  Do you think this would help your kids with snack and lunch choices?


  1. Mellissa says:

    I love this idea but I ised reusable containers so I am not wasting zip top bags. Making frozen fruit pops is an easy idea as well.

  2. Rebeccca S says:

    Weird question, but where did you find the clear plastic bins? I LOVE them. Thanks!

  3. Wendy C says:

    Love this post with all the specific examples! Where did you get the clear storage containers? thanks!

  4. I LOVE those trays!!! Where did you find them? My son is only 2.5 so he’s not tall enough to reach into the fridge but he could totally get into our pantry!!!

  5. Hi Becky!
    I love this idea and I’ve been looking for bins exactly like these for such a long time. Can you link to the bins that you used or tell me where you purchased them? I’ve looked at WalMart and Target and have been unable to find these exact bins. 🙂

    Thank you!!!

  6. Great idea and I love those bins! Where did u get them?

  7. Shirlee says:

    Great idea, Becky! Where in Target did you find the clear plastic bins?

    LOVE your blog! You’ve truly helped me learned to manage and LOVE a busy, crazy, and hectic home with four small children! Your cleaning schedule is super easy and effective- even my kids love helping. We all enjoy a clean and organized home!

  8. Maritza says:

    Great Idea! Just in time before my kiddos go back to school. I wanted to know where you bought the acrylic bins? Thank you!

  9. Donna Wernig says:

    Hi Becky,
    This is a great idea! Love your blog….. I am a nurse and work 3 twelve hour shifts each week. Busy with my daughter and mother on my days off. Have you ever made a cleaning schedule for someone who cannot do the big things until the weekend?

    • My system can be altered to fit any schedule. I would recommend doing a few on Saturday, a few Sunday, and one or two throughout the week. Small steps. Once you get the system down it won’t take too long to complete each task as they will be regular upkeep and not a full overhaul each time. 🙂

  10. I LOVE this idea Clean Mama!!!! This is exactly what I have been looking for. I have been trying to brainstorm for some snack ideas for the kids, and you gave some really great ones along with the BEST way to organize them and make it easier when packing lunches for school/summer camp in the morning!!

  11. Deirdre says:

    Love this! I would add raw broccoli & cauliflower to the list. I’ve done a couple of tablespoons of fat free ranch (or any dressing, really) in mini take n toss containers. My kid loves hard boiled eggs for breakfast (or a snack).

  12. Hi there! I have to say I find this idea of training your kids to snack and nibble a bit weird. What’s wrong with three meals a day? I have five kids, now mostly grown up, and the fridge was always off limits, it was just the place I kept my ingredients. There was a fruit bowl, with really good stuff in it, that they could demolish any time. We sometimes had biscuits. That was it.

    • We eat 4-5 smaller meals vs. 3 larger meals – it’s a personal preference 🙂 I find that my kids do better that way, but if your kids did better with 3 meals, great! The post is about lunches AND snacks – it’s really helpful for them to be able to get components of their lunches ready. Fruit and veggies are always available too.

      • I think you’re doing it right! 4-5 smaller meals is what is recommended to maintain a good weight, energy and metabolism .

  13. Hi love these bins for the apple sauce packs and snacks for the kids. What do these measure?


  14. Hi Becky!
    I just did this to our pantry last weekend. However, I have a lot of ‘liquids’ and have no idea where to put them and how to organize them. Things like Kool-Aid packets and K-Cup boxes and Juicy Juice Bottles, the 64 oz. ones. Our pantry is quite tiny, I have picture of what I did here… This is literally all the space we have. There’s a shelf above this but it has appliances on it. Then we have a separate pantry closet that we put together but that has all the baking and canned goods in it. :/ Maybe once I get containers for the cereals I will have some space to put baking in this area??

  15. We have 10 children and find that preparing snacks ahead of time makes life easier and cuts down on our monthly food bill. We do believe in feeding our bodies throughout the day to keep us moving, especially the younger ones. We have a little different system that works for us. Each child has a plastic shoe box in the pantry with their names on it. Each week we fill each box with 14 snacks similar to the snacks you suggested. They are free to go in at 10am and 2 pm to choose a snack . This keeps them from asking me for food all day, they watch the clock and know when it’s time. We do add a few sweet treats for fun. They have done very well managing their boxes . If they find they are hungry before or after those times they are free to choose a fruit or veggies cut and prepared in fridge. with heavy dance and sports activities they need to keep their bodies going with fuel. Thanks for sharing some of your snack ideas, never thought about putting the yogurts in freezer. Great idea!

  16. I like how the yogurts, packet foods are all placed neatly in the fridge, as compared to mine. I really need a system and put some order in my fridge. will clear my fridge first then get some clear bins, as you can see what is in them. I also like to put some yogurt tubes in freezer (for going out, so it can slowly defrost) and some in fridge (for home snacking). Once the system is set up, hopefully it will help my kid be more independent in accessing food for snacking. I also like the idea of reusable containers as its easier to wash, store and reuse, compared to resealable bags. thanks for sharing.

  17. Great ideas. My pantry is awkwardly deep, making it difficult to keep straight and organized. Your bins you used to keep snacks in is a great way to tame the clutter. Pull out drawers/shelves plus some of your ideas will make my storage more user friendly.

  18. Does the pop corn go stale in the fridge?

  19. This is great! We homeschool and this will make teaching while keeping little bellies full easier.

  20. I wanted to try doing this before but I’m worried that the snacks might take on a plasticky flavor to it because of being in a bag for a while…. Has that ever happened to you?

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