Monday, August 5, 2013

Back to School: Lunches

It's the beginning of August and that can only mean two things: scrambling to throw together some last minute summer fun and the panic settling in of school starting soon.  In our house, we're finishing up summer T-ball, spending afternoons at the pool, and trying to ignore the fact that school starts in two weeks.  Two weeks!  I'm so not ready.

One thing that I always start thinking out as school approaches is how I'm going to feed these little munchkins.  I know I can't be the only mom that dreads packing lunches.  So I put together some of my best tips for back to school lunches.

What are you going to pack it in?

Now's the time to be watching for all those essentials for packing lunches.  Things to remember include lunch boxes, sandwich bags, napkins, and snack bags.  If you want to keep from using disposables, check out these bento style boxes from Easy Lunchboxes.

My kids have sandwiches boxes from the Dollar Tree.  I also keep a stock of freezeable plastic canning jars.  The lids are easily twisted on and off, and the size is great for grapes, baby carrots, pretzels, etc.  For more ideas, check out School Time Sandwiches and School Time Sides.

What are you packing?

Now's the time to stock up what you're going to be packing in these lunches.  We keep the following on hand for lunches: cheese sticks, pretzels, pudding, yogurt tubes, fresh fruit, and items for sandwiches.  I'll also try to keep small treats for an occasional surprise.

Pudding or jello can be bought in disposable single servings or can be prepared and divided into those plastic canning jars.  Sandwiches can include bread or take some lunch meat and roll it up with a slice of cheese for a bread-less wrap.

Assemble your tools

We keep all our lunch boxes in a consistent location.  When the kids get home from school, they take their lunch boxes in the kitchen, empty them, wipe them down, and mom puts them right back in the cupboard.  In the same cabinet, I keep our sandwich boxes, baggies, napkins, treat bag, apple corer/slicer, canning jars, etc.

Get the kids involved

Even the smallest kids can help with packing lunches.  Include them in finding items in the fridge and cupboard, making sandwiches and wraps, filling canning jars, organizing fridge items for the morning, packing napkins and silverware, etc.  If they're going to eat it, they can help pack it.

Pack the Night Before

One of my best tips is to get lunches ready the night before.  Especially if you're teaching your kids to help.  A hectic morning trying to get out the door is not a good time for teaching a new skill.  Prepare your lunches the night before, partner your refrigerator items in one location for quick grabbing in the morning, lay lunch boxes out, and go to bed knowing lunches will come together quick in the morning.

What tips do you have for packing school lunches?

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