Packing school lunches and snacks. The bane of every mother’s existence. Well, maybe not every mother. I imagine some mothers love putting together those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Well, assuming you aren’t in a peanut free school. If you are then you get the pleasure of getting creative with lunch for your kids.
I hate packing school lunches. So much so that I just don’t do it anymore. My kids get lunch at school. Which works if your kids will eat the school lunches. Although, my kids have been becoming a little sick of it so there are a few days a week that they take lunch from home, but I don’t make it. And I won’t be making any lunches this year either. We only have half day Kindergarten so I get to enjoy another free year of school lunchlessness. I totally made up a word there. Go ahead, spread it around.
Anyways, today I will share with you the things I have learned over the years of packing school lunches and snacks. Oh yeah, I do actually have to pack a snack for my son anyways. My oldest doesn’t get to take a snack to school anymore (apparently once you hit middle school you lack the need of a mid morning snack to get you through until lunch). My middle daughter gets her own snack together and sometimes she’ll put something together for her little brother. Usually when he nags her while she’s getting her snack and he wants to pack his own too.
Packing A Nutritious Lunch
It’s tricky to get just the right lunch that your child is not going to want to be trading someone for. Of course there’s the classic PB&J sandwiches. It’s quick and easy, but what if you have a peanut free school?
My older daughters liked tuna fish sandwiches every now and then. Never ever put the tuna fish sandwich together though. If you do you’ll end up with soggy bread. So I would spoon some into a small tupperware container and pack up two slices of bread. Add a fork so they can spread it on the bread at school.
An ever popular lunch around here is last nights leftovers. This you need a thermos for of course. Make sure it’s a good one too because you don’t want to make your kids sick. Do not heat the food up directly in the thermos in the microwave either. Heat it in something else and add it to the thermos. And here’s a little tip for helping keep it warm, add a little hot water to the thermos to warm up the inside. Be sure to dump the water before you add the food of course, but this helps retain the heat.
If you can afford to, consider using school lunches whenever possible. Most schools have accounts for your child so you can pay online or send in money to be used throughout the year. They will send home reminders when the account is getting low too. It really is super convenient.
For this we go with fruits and veggies that are in season for snack. Sometimes they’ll have granola bars or crackers. For a while there my son loved bringing GoGurts.
For fruit that needs preparing, when I buy the fruit I wash it and then cut it up and place it in an airtight sealed bowl. Then my children can choose the snack they want for the day and have as little fuss as possible.
I noticed last year that my middle daughter has been taking extra snack and when we have something like Goldfish or some other crackers in the house we are going through them awfully fast. So I have started prepackaging the proper serving size for them. This way I know there’s no overeating and I can keep track of the packages better. Plus it’s quick and easy for them to grab a snack bag. I would say my 4 year old could pack his own snack, but I can’t leave snacks in his reach or he would only eat snacks all day long and never eat his dinner.
The key for the little ones is making sure they can eat it themselves. Cut up apples and put a little lemon juice on them to keep them from browning. Peel and separate orange slices. Cut up strawberries. Have easy to open packaging. Do as much of the work as you can before the morning because you are not going to want to be running around in the morning cutting apples. I personally find it easiest to prepare it when I go grocery shopping. So the fruit goes right into the fridge cut up and ready to grab and go. The box of Goldfish gets separated into snack size packages and stored like that. So you aren’t up late cutting up fruit and counting out crackers.
Oh my poor older children. Since I really don’t pack lunches for them anymore they miss out on this stuff. I’ll have to ask them if they do miss it actually. But when they were little and for my son in their lunch/snack box I would from time to time put a little note in there for them. Mostly for the first few days of school to help give them a smile in case they were feeling a little home sick. Just a simple little note that says, “I love you!” or “Hope you’re having a good day!” Teachers will usually read the notes to the kids for you and they love it.
The older ones might think it’s cheesy, but it’s great for the little ones. A little note from home is a great boost. Kind of like in the book The Kissing Hand. Have you read that? Great book. Before the child leaves you give him a kiss on his hand and he holds onto it and can get a kiss from mom whenever he wants just by holding his hand to his cheek. Whatever it takes to make the transition easier, right?
So that’s how I make lunch and snack work in my house. I know some people prepare lunch the night before and I have tried that, but I find I often can’t commit to that. Plus, it doesn’t work if you’re sending in leftovers. Besides, peanut butter and jelly just doesn’t taste as good when it’s over12 hours old as it does when it’s made that morning. So yes, the lunch and snack packing in our house is saved for the morning.
What makes packing lunch and snack easiest for you?
I hope you are enjoying my Back To School Guide. Be sure to check out yesterdays post about getting back on a schedule. Tomorrow will be all about paper. The mounds and mounds of paperwork you will have to fill out and the mounds and mounds of paper that will inevitably come home and you will have to find a home for.