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Oh yes… school is back in full force and packing lunches is already on my mind. In the nicest way, let me put how I feel about packing school lunches… UGH!!!!! (Ps- did I mention that we have a family of SIX?) I have found a solution and that is to prepare lunches once for the week.
It isn’t that I don’t love caring for our family… it is just the routine of it that becomes mundane. Lay out 12 slices of bread, put peanut butter on each one, put jelly on each one, cut the crust off of the kid’s sandwiches… every single day. So I put a stop to that & made life SO much easier!
Packing lunches for four kids is time consuming, to the say least, but I do it out of love (isn’t that why we do most things?) I want to know that they are being given healthy options.
Here is how I do it all on Sunday night.
1). I make sandwiches for the week.
I make 20 sandwiches for the week. I usually make Peanut Butter & Jelly (because a store near our house has a peanut butter and almond butter machine where you make fresh butter right there! The kids love it, so we always have a lot on hand.) I also do lunch-meat sandwiches. If I do lunch meat, I usually send a pickle with them, because our kids LOVE to eat pickles with their sandwiches!
Anyway- make them all on Sunday night. Get them into the sandwich bags. (label the bag so you know what it is) and then I FREEZE THEM. They are thawed by lunchtime and not soggy.
Every morning, grab one sandwich and toss it into their lunch box. It will keep the other food cold and it will be thawed to perfection by lunch. (our daughter gets them, too, even if she is home with mom… she likes to act like her big brothers!) haha!!
2). They pick the rest:
They grab anything that they want out of the organizer that we put in the pantry, grab their sandwich from the freezer, grab any veggies that they want from the fridge & then put it into their lunchbox. It is so fast!
In the morning, I DO NOT get their lunch boxes out. I do a lot to get them ready in the morning, but I leave the lunch boxes up to the kids. It is one thing that I want them to be responsible for and it is an EASY way to teach responsibility. (If they forget it, they have to buy a school lunch that day, which does not make them happy).
A few ideas:
- Pretzels. I buy a HUGE container of pretzels and separate it into little snack bags. I do this the day that I get home from the grocery store. A handful of pretzels goes into each baggie. Or… I’ll buy the pre-packaged pretzels at Sams Club when they have a sale.
- Del Monte® Fusions or Fruit Squeezes – Our kids love them both of these, because they are sweet & quick to eat, but I love them because they have a serving of fruit. 🙂 If fresh fruit isn’t in season (like peaches and pineapple) and the kids want it, this is a great solution.
- Vegetables. I like to throw in another fruit, but this time I do a dried fruit or cut up veggies, because it gives them a change in texture, but keeps their lunch healthy. Sometimes I will change this out for Yogurt-covered raisins. I prep these the same way that I prep the pretzels (having them ready in little baggies).
- High-protein PB banana muffins
3- Stock up on mini water bottles.
I buy those tiny water bottles and let the kids take one per day for lunch.
OK… NOW START PACKING!
The beauty of this is that you have prepped all that you need one time and you are ready for the week. Every afternoon, when the kids bring their lunch boxes home, they unpack them, throw away any garbage, clean them with a wipe and they refill them with something from each basket.
They then grab a sandwich from the freezer, veggies &/or fresh fruit (already prepped for them) from the fridge and a water from the refrigerator. I add a little note (written on a napkin) and put them into the refrigerator in the garage. They grab them in the mornings. Simple.
I usually start the year doing this for them, but I want them to learn to be responsible for themselves, so I end up giving them this job by the end of Kindergarten. Chaos & stress are eliminated!