1. Pack the night before so the morning goes more smoothly. I like to do it when the kitchen is still dirty from making dinner. I'll walk one or two kids at a time through the packing process.
2. Packing the night before poses a few problems though: certain sandwiches tend to get soggy overnight. But if you--for example, lightly spread the peanut butter or cream cheese on BOTH slices of bread and then add a little jelly in the middle, you can avoid the sogginess. What about hot meals? We actually do those a lot (leftovers, soup, macaroni and cheese) so I have the kids leave their thermos on the counter and pack everything else they need the night before (spoon or fork, water bottle, napkin, side dishes).
3. Have pre-cut fruits and veggies ready for them. I found my kids kept going for the snack sized apple sauce packages as their fruit which I didn't really want them to do every day. I'd rather save those (more expensive/wasteful) snacks for when there was no fresh fruit left in the house. I realized they weren’t choosing the applesauce because they like it better, they were choosing it because they are lazy. If I do the cutting, they take the fresh stuff.
4. What about pre-cut apples turning brown (and becoming unappetizing)? Two solutions that work for us: either sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on the cut slices to mask the browning or throw in an orange slice (or few drops of orange juice) so the orange's acidity can counteract the effects of oxidizing.
5. Throw them a bone once in awhile...my kids have packed lunch every night for the first ten days of school. They're tired. I'm proud of them. Happy Friday, kids. First one to complain about what I packed for them gets no more lunch-packing breaks.