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As summer winds down, it’s time to start thinking about back-to-school season. We might not quite know what school will look like for our kids this fall due to the pandemic, but regardless it means the return to daily routines, bedtimes, and helping out with homework. Getting kids ready for school every day can be stressful! Even more so if they're attending online in around the corner from you working from home. To keep everyone on schedule, lunches need to be prepared ahead of time. It takes time, planning, and hope that your kid will actually eat it. But don’t sweat it this year! Follow these tips and make prepping kids' lunches a breeze.
Relax when it comes to snacks. Let your kids do their own shopping (in your pantry).
If you have a pantry closet or a snack drawer, use small bins to house all non-refrigerated lunchbox add-on items and snacks. Then, let them “shop” in your pantry by allowing them to pick one to three items from the bins to complete their meal. For instance, you might prepare and pack a sandwich, then, the kids can pick one item from the beverage bin, one item from the healthy snack bin, and one item from the treat bin. Add labels for fuss-free organization. No morning arguments, and you can restock the bins at your convenience.
Freeze what you can (so that it thaws by lunchtime).
Freeze everything you can, from beverages to sandwiches. Using the same concept as above, store items in freezer bins then add them to lunches as needed. The frozen item(s) act as ice packs keeping the lunchbox cool and they will thaw just in time for lunch! Keep frozen juice boxes, grapes, apple sauce, fruit cups, yogurt tubes, even peanut butter, and jelly sandwiches, all at your fingertips. Toss them in packed lunches as needed.
Get your kids excited about meals by asking them to be part of the process. Maybe on Sunday night, either have them write out what they would like in their lunch boxes or take them with you to the grocery store, then, have them help assemble each lunch the night before so that all they need to do is grab it out of the fridge in the morning and go. Remember, you can store the whole lunch box in the fridge with all its contents.
Make it nutritious.
Nutrition should come first, so don't forget to fill their lunch box with plenty of fruits and vegetables. These basic nutritious sides, such as fruit with peels like bananas, grapes, apple slices, and peaches hold up nicely throughout the day. Healthy veggies like carrots, celery with peanut butter or cream cheese, cucumbers, granola, and trail mix are sure to be a favorite lunch accompaniment.
Don’t forget to make it interesting.
Packed lunches can turn into boring same old, same old. Take it up a notch! Try making a savory muffin and egg souffle and add them to your lunch rotation as the main course to mix things up. Here’s one of our favorite recipes:
Skip the brown paper bags.
When kids eventually do go pack to school in person, save some money (and paper!) and use lunch boxes instead of disposable lunch bags. Let your kids pick them out so it’s something they’ll like taking to school with them. If you have multiple kids, make sure they each have a different color. This way they’ll be easier to distinguish and kids won’t accidentally grab the wrong lunch in their rush to the bus.
Send some love.
Make lunch special by including notes to your kids. These can be as complex or simple as you want to make them, from a handmade card, to a post-it note. One unique way is to carve a note into a banana. By lunch time, the cuts in the peel will brown making the note visible. Lunch notes are an easy way to send your kid love, encouragement and let them know you are thinking of them. Need more ideas? Try including jokes!
Now that you have a plan to tackle school lunches you’re ready for school to start!
Shop the Look: Stock up on bins and baskets of all shapes and sizes to create the perfect kid-friendly lunch packing station in your kitchen. And don't forget the labels!
Check out our full Back to School blog series for more inspiration.
Chelsea McCulley is a Digital Asset Manager at mDesign
and an avid reader and Jane Austen fan.
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