First of all I must tell you how proud I am of you guys for taking charge with packing your own lunches. Project Lunch Box has been in full swing for over a week and you guys are doing great!
Learning new stuff is FUN and y’all have some awesome ideas about lots of things. We are heading into week 2 of our 30 day challenge. You can add our Project Lunch Box badge at any time and link up your blog URL’s or relevant blog posts at anytime too. Most of the conversation has been on Facebook, so I encourage you to join us over there.
1) Plan ahead: When grocery shopping map out a few meals ahead of time. Keep your staples on hand. Fresh, frozen and pantry ingredients should be available and at the ready.
Momables says: “Have a plan for the week. Streamline the process by packing everyone’s lunch in an “assembly line” Pack the night before while making dinner or right after. the kitchen is already messy and many of the items you’ll use are already out.”
Look at what Nikki does…brilliant! “Save time by making a whole loaf or two of PB&J and then freezing them. When you go to pack lunches, just grab a sandwich then add fruit and yogurt. Makes morning so much faster & easier.”
2) Pack ahead: No matter who we are packing lunches for, we are all in agreement that all lunches need to be packed the night before. Mornings are way too rushed to feed, cloth and get everyone out the door on time.
Cooking for My Kids says: “I make a menu for each week. When the boys get home, I clean their lunch container for the day and then immediately re-pack it for the next day. That way, the next morning, I just have to get out of the refrigerator and put it in their lunch boxes with a little note.”
3) Leftovers: This pretty much goes hand in hand with #2’s plan ahead. When you prepare dinner make sure you make plenty for lunch box meals for the next day or few days out. You can always freeze small portions of casseroles, etc. for grab and go meals. We love these Three Cheese Spaghetti Nests….
4) Freeze puddings, smoothies, drinks, etc: A lot of you freeze those items the night before and then add them to your lunch boxes in the morning. You might want a post-it note somewhere to remind you to pack it, I forgot a few times. This great idea doubles as a ice pack and turns into a cool, slushy/ice cream treat by the time lunch rolls around. I am thinking my recent Tutti Fruitti Chcoolate Coconut Pops would be great as a frozen smoothie.
These Blueberry Banana Milkshakes would be yummy too.
Joggermom says: “Freeze a GoGurt or juice box to keep food cold.”
Becka, from Just a Bunch of Momsense makes….”fruit pucks.” What are fruit pucks, you ask? Fruit pucks are pureed fresh fruit, (nothing else) poured into a mini muffin pan, (or ice cube tray) and frozen. They resemble little hockey pucks. They thaw into a nice sherbet-like consistency by lunch time, and my kids LOVE them.”
So I am assuming we can use some homemade applesauce to make those “fruit pucks”
You can also freeze other items: Laura says: “If you think that an ice-pack might not be enough to keep the tuna salad or yogurt cold, throw it in the freezer first thing in the morning when u wake up. An hour in the freezer plus an ice-pack really helps keep things cold.”
5) Involve the Kids: Everyone agrees that if you are packing lunch for kids involve them in the process in some way. If they are small let them pick out a some fruit, fill a container or help you make a sandwich. When they feel a part of the process they are more inclined to eat what you send to school.
6) Plentiful supply of small/reusable containers: Having these around will help make lunch packing quick, easy and eco-friendly. I am in love with our Klean Kanteen insulated water bottles…I have left it out on the counter overnight and the ice cubes are still frozen inside!
7) Don’t fill the box with too many choices: This applies to little kids. I hear time & time again from teachers (especially for little kids) that too many choices confuses the kids. They might take a bite of each thing and leave the rest. This causes excess waste and confusion for the parent and the child. It is hard to tell what you should really be packing each day. As adults we love choices.
8) Bring your kids to the store with you: Or have them help with the shopping list. Sometimes their choices are not what we would pick, but we can help guide them in the right directions. Kids really want a say and to feel independent. Helping with food choices makes them more likely to eat what you pack. Believe me I get it that it can be hard to bring your kids to the market…occasionally might work.
9) Think smart: Keep foods separated so they don’t goop up and run into each other. Use spreads mindfully so sandwich bread stays fresh. Literary Lana says: “Keep pb&j sandwiches from getting soggy by spreading peanut butter on both slices of bread. Go light on the jelly and keep it in the center.” Love this!
Our Easy LunchBoxes convenient bento box styling helps with this.
10) Love notes: Sending your sweeties off to school, work, camp, etc with a little not tucked inside their lunch box always brightens up their day. A simple I Love You will do. Calli says: ” We do a note & a joke of the day!”
Do you have any other tips you would like to share? There are never enough great ones! Just leave them in the comments.
I am adding this post to the Food Network’s Brown-Bag Challenge, a month-long initiative to eat consciously and save money by packing a lunch each weekday instead of eating out. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #brownbag.