Modern Mom – August 2021Morgan Sigler
With school starting, all of us are re-finding our routines and putting a few new systems into place that correlate with this busy season of life. Let’s takes some of the stress out of our busy lives and learn some tips on how to prep our kids’ school lunches (& get them out the door faster in the mornings!)
The first thing I did this year is sit down with my boys and figure out what each of them enjoys most. My biggest problems leading into this year have been over-purchasing foods, trying to over- cater to their specific taste buds, then ending up in a hamster wheel of packing the same things on repeat with very little variety.
So, I sat with the boys and asked them what their favorite foods are, and wrote down all of the items that they could all agree on. We took some time to look for quick ideas online together to come up with 15-20 different lunch options as well as a variety of quick and tasty sides. Now, when I am grocery shopping/meal planning for the week, I can glance at their list and be sure to stock up accordingly. This list has items they will all eat, so I can now quickly put together lunch ideas without over purchasing food while offering some variety from week to week.
Keep it simple! One of the primary goals is to be speedy about lunch making. Whether in the morning or the night before, I don’t want to have to invest much time in putting everything together. And really, the best case scenario is that I give the boys the tools they need to be able to do everything themselves.
That might mean giving into some pre-packaged items or creating my own quick snack packs that we can all just grab-n-go. Typically I portion off crackers, popcorn, fruits, veggies, protein bites, etc… Whenever I can, I select fruits and veggies that I know I will get the longest life from (I have found that grapes, carrots, celery, cucumbers, pea pods, oranges, peppers, melon, and apples will typically stay fresh throughout the course of the week without concern of spoiling, and are easy to portion out).
THIS IS HUGELY IMPORTANT AND PROBABLY MY BIGGEST TIP.
Aside from the fast fruits and veggies mentioned above, we all really love berries as well. So, while putting groceries away and doing my weekly meal prep I will soak/rinse them in a bowl of water and vinegar for a couple of minutes. They seem to last longest if I do a quick soak and then let them air dry before refrigerating.
OK, so basically the first step was to select the simple sides that can easily be tossed into a lunch, and next, I like to do a little prep. Again, I am putting groceries away anyway, why not just put them away in individual grab-n-go packages to make the entire week go smoother? All of the pre-prepped snacks and sides are put together in a section of the fridge that the boy’s love to grab from.
Grilled Chicken, Ham & Cheese Croissant, Hard Boiled Eggs, Turkey Apple Sausage, Pepperoni/ Cheese/Tomatoes, Soup & Crackers, Lunch Meat Wrap, Pasta Salad, Quesadilla, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Chicken Taco, Spaghetti/ Pasta, Sub Sandwich, Salad, BLT Pita Pocket, Bagel Sandwich, Rice Cake w/Peanut Butter
Pickles, Clementines, Grapes, Peppers, Applesauce, Melon, Peaches, Pears, Apple Slices, Strawberries, Raspberries/ Blackberries, Carrots, Pea Pods, Celery, Cucumbers, Bananas, Side Salad
Almonds/Nuts, Cheese Sticks, Pretzels, Peanut/Almond Butters, Crackers, Yogurt, Rice, Taco Chips w/Salsa or Guacamole, Pita Chips, Veggie Straws, Granola, Cottage Cheese, Fruit Strips/Snacks, Popcorn, Cookies, Trail Mix, Beef Sticks