How To Make School Lunches Easy
We have almost made it through our first week of school and I would say we have done pretty well. It is a huge adjustment, but so far so good. The big change for us this year is that our daughter (our baby) started kindergarten! Our son is now in third grade and he’s used to having to get up and get ready. But our daughter, that’s a whole different story. I was very concerned how our morning routine was going to work and would we be able to get out the door on time. I knew some things I could do to make our mornings run smoother like, laying clothes out the night before, making sure backpacks were ready to go and putting shoes and socks by the door. But one thing I always struggled with in the morning was lunches. Our son likes to buy his lunch, so most of the time all I had to remember was his snack. But when he did take his lunch, I would ask him the night before what he wanted and have it settled. The problem was, by morning time, I had forgotten half of what he had asked for. Was it strawberry jelly or grape jelly? What kind of chips did you say you wanted? Did you want a banana or an apple? It was frustrating and something I wanted to avoid this year. Especially with trying to get two kids ready for school now. So let me show you How To Make School Lunches Easy! I wanted to try this out for a few days before sharing it, just to see if it worked or not. And let me say, IT WORKS GREAT!
The first thing you need are containers to put your food items in and lots of snack sized bags. We used the shoe box size bins and decided we needed six of them. You can find these in several stores and we got ours for less than one dollar each.
The first thing I did was wash and dry all of the bins and remove the label. I then made my own labels for the front of the bin. On these labels I wrote a one or a two, showing how many items or servings the kids could pick from that particular bin. The only bin that we have a two on, is our fruit and veggie bin. But you can sort yours how ever you like.
The next thing you need are all of your food choices to fill the bins with. I took the kids grocery shopping with me (YIKES), and let them help pick out what their options would be. I am quickly starting to see what they will actually take in their lunches and what we can skip next time. Also, I’m going for more fresh fruit instead of fruit cups next time. I have to send them a spoon and then my daughter has a hard time opening them. Plus I just feel that fresh fruit is just a better choice. So here is what we got.
We got A LOT of items, and not everything needs to fit into the bins right now. All of these items are things we eat anyway, so extras are in the pantry or fridge for snacks or meals at home. Now, just start filling your bins. We divided ours up into like items and I’ll give you a list of what we put in them. Things like baby carrots, pretzels and vanilla wafers can all be placed into the snack bags. This will also save money so you’re not having to buy individually wrapped items.
Above, you can see three of our bins that we started to fill. Here is our breakdown of how we grouped things together.
- Bin #1 – Fruit = (cups and fresh), veggies (baby carrots, cucumber slices, broccoli) and applesauce.
- Bin #2 – Crackers = Wheat Thins, Cheese Its and Ritz Crackers. We also had peanut butter crackers in here and then changed it to another bin.
- Bin #3 – Yogurt and Cheese = string cheese, cubed cheese, yogurt cups and Gogurt.
- Bin #4 – Snacks = Granola bars, peanut butter crackers, cereal bars and raisins. I ended up moving applesauce to this bin too.
- Bin #5 – Chips = I get the variety pack of baked chips and then we added more pretzels and veggie straws.
- Bin #6 – Dessert = Chocolate graham bears, vanilla wafers, fruit snack or roll up and Nutella with pretzel sticks.
Now just make sure to have a place cleared off to put all of your bins. I learned two lessons while doing this project. 1, The kids will probably only help for about 5 minutes and they will want to snack on everything you are trying to bag up. 2, If you’re a little OCD, like me, you’ll end up rearranging your pantry and cleaning out your fridge to get this done! So this really took care of several things in one day! I cleared a shelf in the pantry for the dry foods.
And then I actually took a drawer out of my fridge to fit the bins with the cold stuff. I was insistent on not taking up more room than necessary. You can see in the photo, that all of our extra applesauce and fruit cups go right below our bins.
One last thing, I needed an easy way to remember specifically what kind of sandwich or hot item they wanted too. So I made these little labels, covered them in clear packing tape (for durability) and put them next to our bins in the pantry. They can pick one of these options and I lay the tag by their lunch box so I know who gets what.
Just to be clear, they probably don’t need to pick an item from EVERY bin. For most kids, especially younger ones, that would be too much food. But the numbers on the front of the bins keep them from picking three desserts! We still try to keep it fairly balanced and make sure everyone has at least one fruit item in their lunch. Some days they didn’t even pick a sandwich. Cheese and crackers was the main part of their meal and I’m okay with that. Once they pick what they want, I go ahead and put the dry items in their lunch box and group the cold items, by child, in the fridge. In the morning, I just grab the cold stuff and a napkin and add it to their lunchbox. This has really made our mornings go fairly smooth and I’m hoping it will stay that way!
You can browse through all of our organizing tips HERE!