Packing lunch for you and your kids is a great way to save money, have fun and teach them the value of eating nutritious food. Try these organizing tips to help you both have a pleasant lunch-making routine each week.
1 >> A little planning the night before. For me, it seems like any time I try to make my lunch the day of, it is stressful and doesn't always work out as well as it could. I like to pack my lunch the night before when I have a little more time and energy. Try this routine and see if it works better for you unless of course you are a serious morning person and have more than enough time and energy in the morning to figure things out.
2 >> Enlist help. With my picky eater, I find that if I give her options and let her choose what goes in her lunch she is more apt to eat it. This is from four years ago, we always had a fun Sunday putting her lunches together for the week. Once they are old enough, ask your kids to help shop for their lunch food and pack it. If it works for your refrigerator consider even packing what you can a week at a time. Package, crackers, cut up and clean fruit, cheese or veggies in small containers. Count out granola bars or fill whatever you can in advance so everyone just needs to grab it and go. This will work well for your lunch too. Roast a pan of veggies and then split between containers with sauces, meat, beans, cheese or whatever you want to add. Then in one shift you have lunch made for the week.
3 >> Keep it separate. Sandwiches can be made in advance if the spread is left off. And salads are better if you add the dressing right before eating so nothing gets too soggy. Plan on getting some smaller containers for dressing and spreads to bring with. You can always have your kids add whatever spread they want to their sandwiches right after eating their breakfast. Cut up fruit will last in these containers if kept in the fridge for a few days at a time.
4 >> Field trips. Make sure to have brown paper bags that can be thrown out for days when your kids are on field trips. And that goes for you as well. If you are going out or to a movie after work, pack your lunch in a paper bag using things that can be recycled or thrown out so you don't have to keep track of containers for that day after work.
This is the lunch bag and water bottle I use for my daughter, both from Target. Best savings for new purchases, of course, are usually around back to school time.
5 >> A reusable thermos or water bottle. This will be important to make sure you and your kids have enough water, or something to drink for lunch. Most schools provide milk that you can buy in the cafeteria. But if your child likes water or if you aren't ok with the sugar content or milk options they provide, a water bottle is the way to go. Just make sure it is BPA free so the chemicals don't leach into the water they are drinking. Be sure to add a cold pack (like this peace sign one I use for my daughter) when you are sending meats or anything that needs to be kept refrigerated before eating.
6 >> Label. Make sure to label your kid's items so if they go missing you can find them. Sometimes they are put on a community shelf, so it will be important to have their names on the bag and water bottle so there are no mix ups.
7 >> It is all about the container. When pre-making lunches, consider small containers that are easy to stack in the fridge. Baggies work well in a pinch, but they are expensive and are not great for the environment. You'll be surprised how easy the containers are to wash, especially if they are dishwasher safe. And again, just make sure they are BPA free. I would suggest using glass if you are using them as adult, but kids may have issues with dropping things and breaking them, causing even more stress for everyone. Glass containers are even a little heavier in my bag, so I only use them for leftovers I know I'll be eating at home. I have switched from all little containers, to slightly larger containers with dividers for both me and my daughter. They come in all different colors, sizes and shapes and are pretty affordable. This sistema one I just bought from Target was $3.99. I am not being paid to promote anything on this post, these are just the ones that I think work best from a variety that I have tried. The clear with green lid kind are nice because they are a little system and they interlock on top of one another so they don't slide around in the fridge. They are also from Target, called Rubbermaid lunch Blox. The small round and square shaped ones are from the Dollar Store. I ended up not using those after awhile because you could not wish them in the dishwasher. The sistema ones and the ones with the green lids can be put in the dishwasher on the top shelf and are all BPA free.
OK I'm cheating here, this was a lunch at home, but I love the fun options for a cold, cloudy day in March! I know hot dogs are not the healthiest option, but as long as they are organic and nitrate free, I'm in.
8 >> Have fun with it. I cannot even tell you what kind of movement is out there, and has been for some time, when it comes to bento lunches. And not just for kids. When my daughter first started bringing her lunches several years ago, I had a hard time finding these little boxes that all fit together into a lunch container. But now they are everywhere and there is no need to order online unless you want to get really fancy. Some people have really taken this to an art form. Which is inspiring, even though I'm not as talented when it comes to creating art from food. But it is helping me get new ideas for what to even pack in the lunches in the first place. Whether it is your favorite food, snacks, color themed food or foods that start with your favorite letter; treat yourself and your kids to a bento lunch and see if it doesn't bring joy to your lunch next week. Check out my Pinterest page here, for more ideas and inspiration, you won't be disappointed.
It was a P day today....pineapple and popcorn!
Special picks and fun shapes can make things more fun to prepare and to eat.