One thing I think most parents dislike about the return to school is having to once again pack lunches.
Here are 5 things that you can do to make packing lunches easier.
Just as with most things in life, you are more successful when you have a plan. By creating a list before you go to the store you are sure to have what you need for the coming week. There’s nothing more discouraging to reach for a sandwich bag and find an empty box.
Two: Prep Work
Once you get home with your groceries take a few minutes to clean your produce. Not only will this help you with lunches, it will help with dinner and easy snack choices. So often we don’t reach for the healthy option because it’s more convenient to grab something prepackaged.
Three: Do it the Night Before
If your home is anything like ours, mornings are hectic. Don and I are both out the door with the sunrise to get to the gym and when we get home there are many stages of getting ready happening with our three children so the kitchen can get a little crowded in the morning from everyone trying to get their breakfast. (Yes, I make my children get their own breakfast.)
This is why we have moved lunch prep to the evening. Once dinner is cleaned up the lunches are packed and put in the fridge. This not only helps minimize the kitchen chaos in the morning, in the event that an alarm doesn’t go off, we aren’t scrambling to take care of another task we don’t have time for.
Four: Get the Kiddos Involved
So I mentioned above that my children make their own breakfasts, well, they also make their own lunches. My husband and I set ground rules for their lunches:
- A source of protein – deli meat (you don’t necessarily have to make a sandwich, wrap deli meat in a slice of cheese) yogurt or gogurt (can also double as an ice pack if placed in the freezer and put in the lunch box in the morning), cheese (string cheese or other cheese sticks are always yummy)
- A serving of veggies – carrots and celery can be the easiest but go with what your child likes, avoid sending dipping sauces for veggies if possible, help them discover the true taste of the food
- A serving of fruit – each of my children prefers different fruits, one great tip for sending apples is cut them up and wrap the slices around the core in press and seal – they won’t brown
- A small treat – if it is a cookie, it’s one or two depending on the size, if it’s candy, it’s one fun size piece, you get the idea
- A bottle of water – juice boxes and other drinks can be expensive and high in sugar, drop the cost and the sweetness for a good old drink of water
We double check their lunches each night to make sure they didn’t forget anything or try to pull a fast one on us. This process not only teaches them responsibility, it teaches them about food and what a balanced lunch looks like and healthy portion sizes.
Five: Take Control
And while our children certainly have food preferences, we have the power to make sure their lunches are filled with quality nutrients. You know I’m not opposed to a small treat, but the entire lunch shouldn’t be a ‘treat.’
If you currently struggle with getting your child to include fruits or veggies in their lunch start with one of them (preferably a veggie). Let them make the choice, oddly enough my son will choose broccoli over carrots or celery if it’s an option. If they have the power they will be more likely to eat the food. By slowly introducing the changes you have a better chance at success.
So before you hit the store this weekend, make a list. When you get home, prep the produce and enlist the kids to help. Talk to your family about the benefits of packing lunches the night before and start empowering your kiddos to make positive food choices by packing their own lunches. Here’s to another great school year!