I don’t know about you, but every weekday I have a moment of dread when I think about packing lunches for my kids for the next day. I don’t know why the relatively easy task of putting together a take away meal for my boys irks me so, but it does.
Keeping it healthy, easy to prep, and actually desirable for growing (and sometimes picky) eaters is oftentimes a struggle. I will rejoice when washing those little lunch boxes for the last time in a long while come the end of May. Until then, I thought I’d share some tips and ideas to get you through this last month of school lunches.
- Get easy raw veggies and fruits like baby carrots, sugar snap peas, raisins, and grapes that you can simply grab and throw into the box.
- Pick a prep day (mine is usually Sunday) and knock out some items that need a little cooking or cutting. Bell peppers of every color are a staple in our house so I clean and cut 2 or 3 of them on Sunday so they are ready to go. I also boil a dozen eggs at a time, which my kids love to peel and eat for lunch.
- Pick proteins that need no prep and kids enjoy like Babybel cheese, salami, string cheese, and nuts. My toddler loves to peel that wax off the Babybel!
- Have a pasta day. Kids have the luxury of eating as many carbs as they want so let them! A favorite of ours is Spinach Tortellini from Trader Joe’s. It boils in just 3 minutes. I cook the whole package and it will feed both my boys twice.
- Put lunch together at the same time you are cooking dinner. If I put if off until after, it seems like one.more.thing before I can put my feet up (and pass out on the couch.) Doing it while I’m already in the kitchen anyway is a little mind trick that makes it more palatable.
- At least one day a week, make it leftovers. You’ve probably got at least two kid-sized portions of leftovers in your fridge on any given day. Pull those containers right out and put them right in the box. Add an apple or pear chunk in cling wrap to sweeten the deal.
- Embrace the PB&J. A half sandwich is enough for my littles so I really only have to make one and cut that sucker in half. Mine actually don’t like jelly (what?!) so I do peanut or almond butter with some honey. If you add some of those easy veggies and fruit to the mix, you’ve got a well balanced meal for your munchkin. (Have a nut free school? Try Annie’s Pea B & J made with pea butter in a tidy bread pocket.)
- Teach them to build cracker sandwiches. My boys love Saltines and now that I’ve shown them how to stack a piece of cheese and deli meat on top, I don’t feel like they are eating empty calories by the fistful. It channels their love of Lego and such and fills their bellies with muscle building protein.
- Go frozen. Pick out some frozen finger foods like meatballs, dumplings, samosas, or veggies patties. Bake the whole package, store in the fridge, and divvy them up a couple days during the week.
- Go soft or slurpy. Smoothies and soups can be made on prep day (or bought already made!) and served up in click-lock container your kid will enjoy seeing for a change. If your kids love yogurt, it’s a natural and simple choice, too.
You’ve got one month to go, mama! Pack those lunches like a pro and before you know it, you’ll be fretting over what to feed your kids poolside this summer.