There is a bit of bite in the air. We’ve walked to school all week and I adore wearing long sleeves in the morning. It also means another year of
finding matching shoes in the morning prepping lunches.
Last year was my rookie year. I packed for one child. After one year under my belt, I’ve developed habits that make the 20 minutes in the lunchroom count. Remember, we’re fueling genius.
Here’s what works for mastering the art of packing lunches that get eaten:
SNEAK A PEEK. Look inside their lunchbox after school to see what they loved and what was left behind. You’ll see patterns. Like when I send too many pistachios. The poor kid doesn’t have time to crack open that many nuts… Faster protein, Mom!
PICTURE PERFECT. I have him look through cookbooks, like Katie Morford’s The Best Lunchbox Ever, to chose things that look yummy to him. I also show him pictures on Pinterest. “Son, nod yes if this looks like something you want in your lunchbox…”
FRUIT, FRUIT, FRUIT. No matter what, he always eats the fruit I send. I reserve a large part of his Laptop Lunchbox for fruit everyday. Keep the fruit convenient and ready to eat. No whole grapefruits, okay?
LEFTOVER LOVE. Grilled Chicken. Roasted Veggies. Quiche. Leftovers are helpful because they are already cooked. Throw the chicken on a bed of greens or in a whole grain tortilla and you’re good to go.
STOCK UP. Keep your favorite products well stocked when they go on sale. I do this for Triscuit Minis, canned pineapple, and Chobani Champion Yogurt Tubes.
TEST DRIVE. Try new recipes and flavor combinations at home before sending it to school. After a new recipe, I’ll usually ask Phin, “Is this something you’d like to have in your lunchbox?”
PRICELESS PREP. I like to cook a batch of quinoa, whole grain pasta, brown rice, wheat berries, etc. on Sunday. This way I know I have some basics ready to be paired, sauced, or wrapped up.
CONVENIENCE MATTERS. There are some great convenience foods that I regularly buy. Foods that I don’t need to chop or wash. Snap peas and mini sweet bell peppers are my absolute favs. (Phin’s, too.)
FANTASTIC FROZENS & COOL CANS: There were some rushed mornings, especially in the winter, that I didn’t have any fresh fruit. I like to keep frozen strawberries and blueberries to pack in lunches. I will mix them with things like yogurt, cottage cheese, or in a little fruit salad. I also love having applesauce, canned pineapple, and mandarin oranges. I will now divulge a family secret. A fruit combination that requires no peeling or chopping. Applesauce with frozen blueberries on top. The blueberries dye the sauce as they thaw, making groovy purple swirls.
LOVE WINS. I feel that sending a lunch is a way to connect with Phin halfway through his day. I like to write or draw dumb jokes, love notes, and cartoons. I’ve gone through a lot of post-it notes.
Finally, “What about Hot Lunch?”
I learned that carrying a plastic tray is a huge social part of school and social belonging. My son was using his negotiation prowess and asked if he could eat from the cafeteria menu on the healthiest days. I accepted his offer because I thought it would be good for us to talk about the options together. He eats school lunch three to four times a month. I still sleep at night – and he gets to carry a plastic tray.
What’s your best advice for making school lunches? I wanna hear it! Comment below or send a shout out on the Don’t Panic Mom Facebook page
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