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School is back in session! And it’s time to get lunch time to a little less stressful.
Can I tell you I really dread having to pack a lunch for school? First there is the whole idea of cutting the fruit and sandwich into Disney characters. I can barley for sentences in the morning. Let alone make a scene from Moana from fruits and veggies.
Then there is the adventure in what to pack to that my kids will actually eat. Because we all know that what ever your kids liked the week before is suddenly “Icky”. (My daughter is a champ at this game by the way.)
So how do you pack a lunch that doesn’t get you calls from your child teacher due to the questionable nutritional value of a chocolate muffin and a pack of cookies? (Her father helped her pack lunch that day.) Or packing a lunch that can survive a child’s trip from the bus to the school room without ending up as a huge squashed combo? (Something about throwing the backpack up and then trying to catch it helped with that mess. Ever cleaned ranch dressing out of a backpack? No? It was just me?)
So to help easy the daily lunch time stress here are ten tips to make things a little smoother
1. Pack what your kids will eat. Not what you want them to eat.
I have been completely guilty of this one. After packing my kids lunches with broccoli salad, chicken wraps, or using apple slices as bread, I quickly realized that a lot of the food was coming back home with them. So I had to quit trying to force food on them that they refused to eat. I do not pack their lunches with loads of cookies and soda like they would want, but I have come to realize that simple lunches with food that they will eat works best for them.
2. Use a plastic container that has dividers in it.
These divided lunch containers have been life savers. Not only are they going to help save you from having to throw away hundreds of plastic baggies during the year. But they can also help to keep food from getting squished. And if you get these ones, your food won’t ever touch. Something picky eaters can rejoice in!
3. Think beyond the Sandwich.
Let’s face it, eating a ham sandwich for five days straight can get really boring. So change it up. Add pepperoni, cheese and crackers, mini burritos, leftover pizza, anything that can be eaten with your hands makes a great alternative to the everyday sandwich.
4. Keeping it cool.
If you pack a juice/milk box freeze it overnight. This will keep your child’s drink cold as well as keep their lunch box cool. Which is great if you have things like cheese or fruit inside of it. Sliding an ice pack into the lunch box helps keep the lunch cool as well. We also use these Freeze Pop Molds to hold smoothies. They freeze great and are still cold when the kids go to eat them.
5. Heat things up.
We use these thermoses to pack noodles and soups. Running them under hot water before you fill them up helps ensure that they will stay hot until lunch.
6. Small containers.
These containers are perfect for keeping things like salad dressing, salsa, nuts, small candies all contained. They are disposable but are worth it. Less food mess or soggy lunches are worth the price.
7. Have your kids pack their lunches.
This is one of those times that you may have add a little guidance. (Honestly, after 10 years of packing lunches you would think my kids would know better than to pack an apple and a dozen cookies. But they don’t) But for the most part you can let your kids pick out what they want to pack in their lunches. I always remind my kids they have to have protein, fruits or veggies then something fun like a granola bar. And I have to see it before they leave. Just in case they forget what they are supposed to pack.
8. Portion out.
Skip buying the individually packaged snacks. You can save a ton by buying the large bag of say chips, then adding a small handful to the lunch container. That way instead of paying for all the separate snack bags you can help the snacks to go a little further.
9. Make your own snacks.
Have you ever made your own granola bars? So easy and they taste great. You may even have they ingredients on hand. Bake up a batch of cookies, rolls, granola bars and store them in the freeze to make lunch prep a little faster.
10. Meal Prep.
Pick a day like Saturday or Sunday and pack a weeks worth of lunches. This will save you a ton of hassle in the morning when you are trying to find homework, shoes, backpacks, clothes.
Hopefully you learned a few tricks that can help you with the school lunches this year. And if you have anything that you would like to add to the list, just leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!