It’s Facebook Official: the school year has begun. Our feeds are full of those adorable back-to-school photos, the firsts, the next, the last. While we may be excited that the school year is starting, a little bit of anxiety comes with it. It’s schedules and drop-offs and for some of us, it means we have to prep lunches for the week instead of quickly throwing it together among the daily chaos. Rest assured, I’ve put together a few tips to get the process of packing a sack lunch going more quickly for you. I do love a good food prep session, and I’ve geared this one toward your back-to-school needs!
Pack a Mean Sack Lunch
1. Keep rollin’ rollin’ rollinnnn’. Prepare your lunch meat. Turkey roll-ups are a favorite snack and lunch item in our house. Yep, it’s as easy as it sounds. For back to school, make it easier. When you’re doing your meal prep (Sundays for me!), open up that package of deli meet, roll them up individually, and put them all in a tupperware. Yes. I wrote a post to tell you how to do this VERY simple task. Grab and go for your packing needs.
2. Snack size bags. Grab them. Fill them ALL up. Put your slices vegetables in there for the kids, portioned out to their needs. Then during the week, grab a bag and toss it in. Easy, right?
3. Separate the string cheese. I know this sounds silly, but I’m going to make a point here. When you open the package, separate the individual cheese before putting them in your fridge. I like to throw them in our deli drawer. I’ve also put them in a large bowl if I’m out of room in the drawer to keep them from getting in the way.
4. Fun sandwich cutters. There are a lot of food allergies so most schools have us on sunflower butter now. It’s great, especially with a sweet jelly or jam! Make your sandwiches fun, and EASY! Make your sandwich, and delegate your time. Let your little one use the cutter (it isn’t sharp, I promise!) to cut up the sandwiches. Have fun with it. They come in all different shapes! Throw these in a sandwich bag according to how much your little needs! You can also cook up a few chicken breasts and dice them up in lieu of sandwiches.
5. Fruit. It can be tough to cut fruit up ahead of time. I slice all my grapes and oranges to grab and go for the kids. But also wash those bigger fruit items and have them in your drawer and ready to go; apples, pears, plums, peaches, etc. Separate your bananas, there’s no need for them to be together. Plus, they last a little longer this way!
6. Fill up your water bottles. Whatever you use to send the kids to school in, get a few extra. I have three bottles that go to school with Evan. I keep them full in the fridge on rotation so I can grab them in the morning and toss it in his backpack. It’s a simple trick that cuts down on time.
7. Not a fan of plastic? No problem! Prep the same way, but this time, purchase a few containers that meet your expectations and toss the food in there. Have it all in one serving container so all the kiddo needs to do is take a top off and BOOM! Lunch is served!
8. Write a few notes. I like to send Evan with a little love from me, that a teacher can read. We’re away from each other during the day, so I like him to know I’m still thinking about him. It gives the final Mommy touch.
9. Prefold napkins. I know, this sounds silly. However, when your kiddo is helping this is one less step for you!
There’s no need to stress over this. We do all of this for ourselves, this is your reminder to do the same thing for the kids. Once everything is sorted, the night before, have your kiddo go to the fridge and “pack” their own lunch! They will learn to grab one of everything, and you can mix it up from week to week. See why you prefold the napkins? Now your kiddo can fit it into his/her box all by him/herself! Be sure to know what the restrictions are at your school to make planning easier. Giving the kids responsibility also gives mama a little more sanity!
Do you enlist your kids’ help when packing lunches? —Jennifer