Pack healthy lunches without the stress! These four school lunch ideas will help keep you sane this Back To School season and all school year long.
Back To School time is a little crazy for most families – new clothes, haircuts, school supplies, having to wake up to an alarm again 🙁 …let’s admit we would all love to fast forward through these first few weeks of the semester.
Well, I can’t help with clothes shopping or waking your kids up, but I can cut down on your school lunch stress. Specifically, these four ideas will help all of us cut ourselves a little slack when it comes to packing lunches this year. It’s basically two parts planning + two parts 1980’s mom. And I can tell you from experience, it works!
4 School Lunch Ideas to Keep You Sane
1. Batch prep + freeze lunches for the month
Yes, freezer friendly lunches are a thing, and they will rock your lunch packing world. They did mine a couple years ago when I discovered them. Your only limitation is the amount of freezer space you have – most standard fridge freezers will hold a few week’s worth of lunches. Or, if you have a deep freeze, you could freeze enough for the entire semester!
2. Load up on healthy packaged foods to save time
Part of what makes lunch packing feel overwhelming is having to make the whole thing from scratch each day. Obviously, batch prepping items that repeat each day like sandwiches, fruits, and veggies helps save time, but I also recommend stocking up on packaged snacks that are healthy, easy to throw in the lunch box, and that keep things interesting for your kids.
3. It’s okay for school lunches to be boring
Think back to your school lunches growing up…I bet none of them could hold a candle to the perfectly balanced and beautiful lunches Pinterest suggests we pack today. I ate turkey + mustard from a brown paper sack every day for years at a time. And I turned out alright.
Sure, we all want our kids to have healthy lunches they enjoy, but give yourself a break if your kids get the same sandwich all week long, if their fruit isn’t sliced into the shape of flowers or penguins, or if their bento box isn’t Instagram worthy. Pack healthy foods that will fill them up, and be done with it!
4. Have your kids make their own lunch
This one’s my favorite.
School age kids are absolutely capable of making their own lunches. Will they always pack the same things you would choose? Of course not. But they can only pack what you buy and, if you stock your kitchen with nutrient dense real foods, they’re really aren’t “bad” choices to be made.
Kids who aren’t used to making their own plates at meal times or packing their own lunches may need a little help at first to know how much food they’ll need to pack and how to combine foods that will give them quick energy (fruits, veggies, grains) and lasting fuel (proteins, and fats). If this is the case for you, view the first couple of weeks of the school year as an “on ramp” where they’ll need more guidance from you until they get the hang of it.
For extra support, you can put a bin in the pantry labelled “lunch” with items for them to choose, and can make a similar bin for refrigerated foods like cheese sticks, boiled eggs, fruits, and veggies.
In no time, your kids will be confident, healthy lunch packers….and you’ll love not having to do it for them! 🙂