We make school lunch 9 months out of the year at our house x 3 kids. My oldest is now in 6th grade, so to say the least I’ve figured out a few tips. I can’t wait to share them with you!
My biggest tip has got to be:
TEACH YOU CHILDREN TO PACK THEIR LUNCH
I know this is on of those things where we say to ourselves “it’s just so much easier and faster to do it myself.” That may be true, but how many more years do you want to keep doing this? How will your children learn to do it the RIGHT way. If you start by teaching them young the importance of a healthy, balanced lunch (and why one would want a healthy balanced lunch) it will set them for life. Plus, they will be better eaters because THEY packed what THEY wanted (within the limits you set)
Teach them there needs to be a food group, and how much, and why. Them monitor them through out the process. My kids make them in the morning while I make breakfast. If you’re a night time lunch packer, have them pack their lunch while you do dinner dishes.
We have a few other lunchbox posts hanging around our blog. If you’re in need of ideas on different things to pack check out this post with 10 Different healthy lunchbox ideas.
School Lunch Box TIPS:
1. Pack most of the food groups. Protein, carb, fruit/veggie, calcium etc.Try to keep a variety of these items on hand, so its not always a sandwich, cheese stick, apple- everyday… Keep fresh items on hand, but also items that store great in the pantry like dried fruit, instant pudding boxes for those days when the fruit is all gone…or bad.
2. Prep your fruit and veggies when you buy them. I love all these fresh fruits and veggies right now. The pineapple and watermelon are all cut and safely stored into airtight containers so in the morning the kids pull out what they want. When all the fruits are not in season as they are in the summer months buy canned fruit to keep a variety flowing through their lunch boxes so their palette won’t bore of the same ol’ ” an apple a day” routine.
3. Kids get tired of the same school lunch. While I keep a variety of “snacky” items at home (baby carrots, sweet peppers, apples, fruit and chips) that they can alternate through, I try to also come up with different main filler. for instance instead of a sandwich my kids like to have noodles topped with shredded cheese. Leftovers (like shown in photo– a taquito!) are usually the biggest hit! We love to make homemade pizza for dinner and the kids will purposely save a large slice for the lunch the next day.
MONEY SAVING IDEAS:
1. Invest in a Planetbox, bento boxes like this OMIEBOX), or even the divided tupperware. I vote for a Planetbox because they will last you YEARS. I’ve had mine for about 6 years and it looks brand new. It fits in the dishwasher overnight and comes with a great case.
We also are fans of these omie boxes! They have compartments and even a removable storage area for hot and cold items.
Cheap tupperware will get you through a year, but they tend to warp over time and need replacing often. But all options will save you money instead of using the little plastic baggies for each individual item you pack. Not to mention it cuts down on waste.
2. Now that you have your Planetbox you have all these beautiful compartments. These are awesome. Take advantage. No more individual packaged items– like pudding and jello cups. Instead make your own pudding and jello in bulk. Store in an air tight container for up to two weeks.
3. Buy fruit in large quantity. No, I’m not suggesting to buy a million applesauce pouches($$). But a large jar of organic unsweetened applesauce, or (especially in the winter months when fruit is not as plentiful) buy cans or jars of fruit. Pack a few peaches or pears, a half a cup of applesauce, in the air tight compartments/containers and the remainder store in an air tight container in the fridge. They can use the rest later in the week.
4. Buy your favorite yogurt or in bulk also, store in air tight compartment/container. Its another great source for calcium… and, duh, so much cheaper than gogurts. For a little extra surprse, mix in some fruit to the yogurt! Don’t just think about yogurt though- buy your cottage cheese and stick new items like that in their lunch box.