Way back in June, a number of people mentioned how glad they were that summer was here because they wouldn’t have to pack school lunches anymore! I decided then to write a Back-To-School blog to help!
Here are 5 ways to make School Lunches easier, cheaper and more appealing:
- Communicate with your Kids.
- Have an honest conversation about what they will actually eat, and how much time is provided for lunch at school.
- For example, my teens have early start times, so breakfast has to be nutritious, portable and easy. And the freshman has only half a lunch period, due to a biology lab class, so lunch will also need to be nutritious, portable and easy!
- In the interest of time, my youngest asked for half-sandwiches and soft fruits like grapes, dried cherries or raisins, etc., because carrots and apples are yummy but require a lot of chewing. I willingly agreed, since less food is wasted and he actually wants to eat his fruit.
- Packing lunches together offers an opportunity to discuss good nutrition like serving sizes, food groups and pyramids, pros and cons of fresh foods and convenience or pre-packaged foods, etc.
- Choose the right space and time to pack lunches.
- Establish a lunch packing zone with lunch bags, sandwich bags, fresh fruit, napkins, plastic spoons, etc.
- Our family is much better at packing lunches after dinner than we are at packing in the morning before school. So as we clean up from dinner, we pack for the next day. When helps us to ….
- Strategically plan and package leftovers.
- Taco night? Put together some tortillas with refried and cheese, they freeze great and stay cold!
- My youngest loves cold pasta (I can’t explain it, but he loves it!) So if I make homemade mac and cheese, spaghetti or other pastas, we portion the left overs into 2 or 3 containers for lunches. Ham for dinner tonight means ham sandwiches tomorrow, etc.
- Do as much prep as possible at home.
- When my kids were younger, I learned the lunch room monitors spend a lot of time helping really little kids open hard-to-open packaging. Make sure your kids can navigate their own sandwich bags, prepackaged chips or snacks, and water bottle. And peel the oranges at home!
- Assemble the lunches for the week all at once, if that helps.
- Use reusable containers and lunch boxes, if possible. We use lots of little Gladware bowls for prepacking our lunches!
- I spent half an hour last night chopping fresh veggies into snack-able sizes.
- Pre-package your own foods, to save time and money. On Sunday, we fill Gladware bowls with servings of pretzels, chex mx, cookies and dried fruit, then use them throughout the week for speedy lunch assembly!
- For example: I traveled to New Mexico in June, and in preparation, my 10 year old and I packed as much of his lunch for sports camp as possible for the days I was going to be gone. We lined up 5 paper lunch bags, and put his name on them. Then we dropped in apples, bags of chips and bagged up cookies. We also made 5 ham and cheese sandwiches, cut them into wedges, bagged them up and froze them. So every morning, he just grabbed a bag from the counter, tossed in his frozen sandwich and cold juice pouch and was ready for camp. (He loved it so much, we did the same thing the next week, even though I was home!).
Meet the school lunch challenge head on with a few of these tips. Happy munching!
And here are a few more resources on the topic: