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Packing Lunches for Back to School Doesn’t have to Suck
It's that time again, as we say goodbye to summer and hello to a new school year. Lunchtime is supposed to be that one time of day when you can relax, so why do we stress about preparing it? Could it be because the anxiety about what to pack and how to store it lingers over us like the smell of burned popcorn?
Do not fear, the solution is here! Try these stress-free easy lunch prep ideas:
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. No morning arguments, and you can restock the bins at your convenience.
Freeze What Can (so that it thaws by lunchtime):
Store 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.
No more broken chips:
Crushed chips are a kid’s lunchtime nightmare. If your crunchy snack looks like breadcrumbs by the time lunch rolls around, it’s sure to “crush” your spirit. To mitigate the damage, put chips in a small zip-top bag and blow it full of air before sealing. This creates an air pillow to help protect them. Buying larger bags of snacks and creating your single-serving size bags is also more economical, especially if you reuse the baggie.
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 assemble each lunch the night before so that all they need to do is grab it out of the fridge and go. Remember, you can store the whole lunch box in the fridge with all its contents.
For packing soups, buy thick paper soup takeout containers at my local restaurant supply store and fill them with cold soup (or anything else that can be reheated.) The kids microwave them at school (so they are not microwaving food in plastic) and then the containers are compostable.
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 (this may be a fun recipe to make together). Add them to their lunch rotation as the main course just to mix things up. Below is one of my favorite recipes, but there are tons of recipes you can try online! Click here for a printable recipe card.
Don’t Forget to 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.
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.
Joyce Colovas is a content writer at mDesign
and an avid lover of all things fun and fabulous!
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Aug 30, 2019