Having a process in place for school lunches is a must. Mornings are too crazy and hectic not to have one! Don’t wait until the morning to make and pack a school lunch for your kids. We promise, it may seem like more work to come up with a plan, but it really will make your life easier. So here’s a couple tips for starting or building your lunch process for this school year.
Have a basic weekly plan.
A detailed meal plan for school lunches is not necessary, but having a basic weekly plan is really helpful. If you don’t already have a formula, here is a great lunch box guide from a registered dietitian. Marie, from Halsa Nutrition, recommends breaking down a school lunch into five categories: “protein”, “starch”, “veggie”, ”fruit”, and “extra” for items like dips and granola bars. This will help you to plan for the week when you do your grocery shopping. Just follow the formula, choosing a food from each category, and you will be sure to create balanced lunches. For some more inspiration make sure to check these cool themed lunch ideas!
Choose your tools.
Having the right lunch box or bag, food containers or bags, water bottle or jug, is really important. We definitely recommend storing lunch in a separate compartment – to create separation between food/liquid and papers/books. An open water bottle or spilled food can ruin papers or projects. If you don’t already have your tool or are looking for some new ones this year, here are some great ones:
Have your kids join you in the lunch process.
Teach your kids to make, pack, and grab their own lunch. At first, this may require extra work on your part to show them how to do it. But they will get the hang of it! Learning to pack their own lunch is also teaching them life skills. Depending on age, kids like having a say in what they want to eat and will love being apart of the process. It might just help that picky eater not be so picky. Here is a great resource for an easy way for kids to pack their own lunch. This mom also has some great ideas for the children who are not quite ready to pack their own lunch but still can help by grabbing items that have already been prepared.
Meal prep ahead of time.
- If you can, doing your grocery shopping/pickup/delivery on a day during the weekend can give you the flexibility to meal prep for all five school days at once. You don’t necessarily need to make the sandwiches a week in advance, but prepping other items ahead of time will really save you time.
- As soon as you put your groceries away, do at least one thing to prep for the week of lunches. This could be making hard boiled eggs, or washing the fruit or veggies. You will be surprised at how one action will propel you and become part of your lunch process.
- Take time to cut up fruit and vegetables all at the same time ahead of time. Unless it is a super fragile fruit or veggie, you are good to wash and prep them ahead of time. This will allow you to just grab and pack when it’s time to fill the lunch boxes.
- Try to cook extra or make enough for a full week of lunches. Soups and pasta salads are work great. The Lazy Genius has some great examples of how to do this. Yes, it takes initially more work, but then you don’t even need to think about it-you can just grab and pack.
- Why wait to fill snack bags? You can also prep these ahead of time and make enough for the whole week so that when it’s time to pack a lunch, all you have to do is grab. Zip top bags are a great eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags.
Pack lunches the night before…for real though.
Yes, sometimes packing lunches is the last thing you want to even think about at the end of a day. Incorporate it into your evening routine and you will be so surprised at how much it helps your mornings. Fill that lunch bag or bento box and place the lunch carrier in the fridge for easy grab the next morning. When the morning comes around, you will be so glad you put in the extra couple minutes at night. If you make this part of your routine, it will become your lunch process this school year.
If unpacking and packing the lunch boxes becomes a part of your daily routine, then this will become more of a habit than a chore. Just like organizing and packing a backpack becomes part of a routine, incorporating these small actions into your week will make school lunches an official process at your home. Let us know how it goes for you and share any tips you have in our Abundance Declutter Group on Facebook.