For us, school starts tomorrow. Many of your kids may not go back tomorrow but within the next few weeks we will all have to face the dreaded, daily lunch packing challenge! Being prepared is crucial to staying organized for this daily task. Here are a few tips to make the process easier and maybe even a little bit fun!
- Involve your kids. Sit down with your kids ahead of time to plan out some good balanced lunch options. Use the simple guidelines below to create yummy and healthy snack/lunch ideas that are easy to pack. Pay attention to what they like. If you're just packing what you think they should eat, it will probably just get thrown out. Work with them to create a lunch they will actually eat and give them the energy they need to get through the day.
- Make lunch cards. Grab some index cards and write down their lunch options. Create at least 5 different, balanced lunches on paper. Involve your kids in this process. Now that you have your lunches planned out, they can select which one they want for the next day. Keep cards clipped on the fridge or in an accessible jar or bin in the kitchen. Pick a card, pack it up, throw in a water and you're set to go!
- Make their lunch the day before. I always pack their lunches after I empty out the lunch box they brought home that day. After school, have them empty out their lunch box and set it on the counter. Depending on their age, they can pack it themselves or you can do it together. Store packed lunch in the fridge. In the morning put an ice pack in to keep things cool.
- Be prepared: They may not be the healthiest but buy some pre-packed snacks so they are easy to just throw in. Coupled with some protein, fresh fruit and veggies these are fine in moderation and make lunch making a whole lot easier. Some good options are: yogurt tubes, string cheese, chips or Goldfish, hummus with pretzels, crackers, KIND bars, Z bars... You get the idea. You can also pre-pack fruits and veggies. Carrots, celery, cucumber, frozen grapes, tangerine slices etc. pre-packed in baggies will stay fresh a few days in the fridge. Keep these items stocked and stored together in the fridge or pantry. Let everyone know those are for lunches and off-limits while at home.
- Have supplies handy. Make sure you have a few good lunch boxes, water bottles, baggies, spoons, forks and plastic containers with lids on hand. There are so many options and many reusable baggies and containers to use too. Know what works for your child. If he/she is always losing his/her expensive water bottle and lunch box, try a paper bag, disposable baggies and store-bought plastic water bottles.
- Send love. Have a few cute "love" notes already cut out to pop in for your little cutie! Pinterest has some awesome "lunch box note" printables available for free. No matter how old your child is, seeing a little note from you will always put a smile on their face!
Be realistic. Staying organized is really just some thoughtful thinking and planning ahead. If you turn this "chore" into a habit, involve your kids and have the right items on hand, you'll be setting yourself up for success and your kids will be well nourished and able to focus in class.
So...pack on CHEERS to a great, first week back at school!