My School Lunch System
Pack Your Lunches ONE Day a Week and Get Your Mornings Back!
If your kids are old enough to go to school, I'm guessing they are old enough to help with the lunch packing process. By kindergarten, kids are ready to pack their OWN lunches. But, you need to set them up for success.
Here is my system for packing school lunches once a week on Sunday. Trust me, if you want smoother mornings, this is your key to success!
I've created a free printable to make the whole process easier while you are training your kids. You can print it out and put it in a page protector. Use a dry erase marker to fill in the number of main courses, sides, and fruit & veggies.
Click on the image to download it
Click on the image to download it
Once your kids get the hang of it, it will be so easy for them to pack their own lunches. But, at first, I'd suggest you take one child at a time, and do the whole process with them, from beginning to end. Then, gradually fade your involvement.
The training process may be messy and time consuming, but I promise you it will pay off down the road! If you get a lot of grumbling and complaining, that's OK. Stay the course!! :)
Here is how it works...
Step 1: PREP
I usually go grocery shopping sometime on Sunday and when I come home, the real prep begins. I clean and cut up all the fruit and vegetables I bought. This takes awhile but then it’s done for the week.
I keep them in Tupperware Fridge Smart containers and it keeps the produce fresh for longer. They also stack easily in my refrigerator.
While my kitchen is already messy, I bake a double batch of muffins, and freeze half. My kids like to take them in their school lunches or eat them for snacks. I usually do this twice a month.
My favorite and easiest way to make muffins is Trader Joes Pumpkin Muffin Mix. We throw in a few chocolate chips and my kids LOVE them!
I also take everything that comes in packaging out of their boxes and place them in clear containers in my pantry or refrigerator.
I have all my favorite School Lunch products in my Amazon Shop here.
Step 2: PACK
Each child has 5 bento boxes each (these leakproof ones from Ziploc are my favorite!), and they fill them for the entire week and store them in our spare refrigerator.
I pack snacks for me and my husband in baggies…things like carrots with individual hummus containers, cheese with crackers, bags of nuts, fruit, etc. Then we can just grab them as we head out in the morning.
I'm working on switching over to all reusable containers and have been loving these made by a local Annapolis Mom, Nina's Flying Needles.
I use fruits like grapes or clementines that will last 5 days without spoiling. Even if I have to add a sandwich or fruit mid week, it’s much easier to have the bulk of the work done. The kids make and freeze sandwiches when possible.
I’ve trained the kids by now, so they make their lunches on their own, using the fruit and vegetables that I’ve already cleaned and prepped.
An added bonus is that they actually eat everything in their lunch, because they are the ones who packed it!
Step 3: STORE
You can store your prepped school lunches in 2 ways.
By Category: Store all of the same kind of thing together....Chips, Pretzels, Fruit, Yogurt, etc.
By Child: Give each child a special bin with all their lunch items together.
It really just depends on how much space you have in your refrigerator, pantry, and drawers. If you have a small kitchen, consider adding a 3-tier rolling cart and filling it with the lunch items. Or, use an over-the-door storage rack like I have.
My kids fill baggies with their snacks for the whole week every Sunday. 5 bags of pretzels, 5 bags of carrots, etc. They each have a space in our pantry and fridge for their snacks.
Each morning, all they have to do is assemble—grab their snacks from the pantry and a bento lunch box from the spare fridge, and their water bottle. It’s sooooo easy.
Do you have any good lunch hacks or systems in your house? I'd love to hear! Email me and let me know!
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