Nothing puts a damper on my “back to school euphoria” faster than the realization that I am once again responsible for packing healthy lunches and snacks for my kids five days a week. A few years ago it became apparent a new approach was in order and it was time to figure a way to keep myself from having to think so hard about it every single day. I wanted the whole lunch thing to be on autopilot. Since I was having a hard time remembering which kid liked mustard on her ham sandwich and who wouldn’t dream of eating yellow string cheese I decided it was time to get everything in writing.
A few weeks before school started I sat my girls down and we had a brainstorming session. We wrote down a detailed list all of their favorite foods for breakfast, lunch, and snack. We were sure to include lots of healthy options and discussed what constitutes a balanced meal. After our session I created a spreadsheet with the information. This list is printed and hanging inside of my kitchen cabinet next to where I pack their meals. I also have an electronic version on my smartphone that I can access when I am away from home. It is a helpful reminder when I am making a grocery list and planning our weekly meals. Since my girls are now at the age where they can prepare and pack their own lunches, I find them referring to the list as well. Their tastes tend to change over time so we review and update the list before the start of each new school year.
Here are a few fresh tips to help you prepare for the start of school:
1) Purge the Pantry and Refrigerator: Spend some time throwing away expired foods, old cereal and snacks that your kids didn’t eat this summer. Designate a place to keep packaged items that will specifically be used for lunches and snacks. A basket or plastic container allows you to simply dump everything in one place and toss the boxes.
2) Keep a Running List: Post your grocery list so all family members can easily add to it. Create one with general categories that match the set-up of the grocery store you use. This is just one way to make sure your kitchen stays stocked with all the necessities on your lunch list.
3) Pick a Few Fun Containers: Before you buy anything new, go through the mountains of containers you already have. Toss any that do not have lids or are scratched and stained. Consider picking up a few of these divided containers from a local discount store http://www.ziploc.com/Products/Pages/ContainersSmartSnapSeal.aspx?SizeName=Divided%20Rectangle. They are great for creating homemade “Lunchable” type meals that will be much more nutritious and affordable than the pre-packaged versions.
If you really want to get inspired to pack yummy and visually appealing lunches for your little ones, check out this amazing blog:
by Andrea Gill, Simplicity Organizer