Back to school time is almost here – how is that even possible!?!
Before we know it, moms around the world will be back at it, making lunch for the entire family each morning – and all those kids will groan in unison as they open up their lunchbox’s at noon and discover the same old PB&J (or maybe not now with so many nut allergies these days) and an apple.
Yeah, I was afraid of that.
The good news is that it’s actually really easy to up your lunchbox game – making you the cool mom with your kid’s friends, and mom-of-the-year with your own.
But, first things first, I am all about easy and convenient – if there is a hack for it, then I’m all about it!! Think smarter, not harder, am I right?!
So my Top Twelve Time Saving Lunch Hacks (say that 10x fast!) are as follows:
- Keep apple slices from turning brown by soaking them in 4 cups of water and 1 Tablespoons of lemon juice for 5-10 minutes.
- Or if you don’t want to go to all that trouble, you can put a rubber band around a sliced apple to keep it from turning brown too.
- Freeze juice boxes the night before so they can double as ice packs.
- Or freeze a clean, wet sponge for a DIY ice pack too (just remember to put it in a baggie before packing).
- Write your lunch notes on the peel of a banana using a toothpick.
- Or, if you want to add a cute note, but don’t have time, use free printables instead.
- Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches into fun shapes – kids will be more excited to eat it and it gets rid of the crusts!!
- Make lunches at night, when you have more time, not in the morning when things are crazy and you are trying to get out of the door on time.
- Make a snack station – put things in pre-measured bags (crackers, produce, nuts) or packaged items (applesauce, string cheese, yogurt, snack packs) together in both the fridge and pantry. The kids can choose what they want easily, it gives them some (but not too many) options, and helps eliminate the same-thing-every-day problem.
- Prevent chips from being crushed by filling a Ziplock bag with air through a straw before sealing.
- Make your own lunchables using divided disposable containers and muffin liners or use a Bento Box to compartmentalize items and help remember all food groups.
- Use a thermos to pack food items you want to keep hot – think hot dogs, meatballs, kebobs, chicken nuggets. You could also use them to pack a smoothie that will stay cool until lunchtime.
Now, how many times have your kids come home from school and barely touched their lunch?
You don’t even have to answer, it’s a lot, I know.
So, how to you make sure your children are eating these lunches that you are painstakingly slaving over? Because I know it drives you nuts to see those full lunchboxes come through the door at 3:30pm, I mean I would go nuts – for real!
Easy. You just have to get creative.
When in doubt…
Kids love dips – I mean look at ketchup, which is practically its own kid food group! I think there is something really appealing about the variety and control they give to miniature humans. They help make it feel like they are, somehow, in charge of their food, even though mom or dad packed it for them. Plus, they are delicious and can be super healthy!
Chips/guacamole or black bean dip
We tell our kids all the time, not to play with their food – well this is the closest thing as it gets! Packing build-your-own type items (think lunchables) gives your child variety and options, but it’s also fun! Every few bites can be completely customized, exactly the way they want it – you can’t have more by-in than that!
Make your own tostada or tacos
Make your own pizza
Put it on a stick-
Step away from the sandwiches and try putting lunch on a stick instead. Think about popular stick foods – corndogs, popsicles, kebobs, are all probably some of your kid’s favorites, right? So use that fun, no muss, no fuss, method to your advantage!
Savory kebobs with cheese, tomatoes and lunch meat – itsakeeper.com
Greek Salad kebobs with tomatoes, cucumbers and cheese
Club Sandwich kebob with everything you would put on a sandwich deconstructed on a stick
Rainbow Fruit kebobs
Frozen grapes on a stick as a healthy dessert
Roll it up-
Probably the closest thing to the traditional sandwich is the roll it up method – but it’s still fun because its different! Cut up your creations for fun sushi-like meals or keep it whole for a burrito style – you can’t go wrong either way!
Banana sushi with a tortilla, spread (think nut butter or Nutella) and a banana cut into pieces
PB&J sushi with a flattened out piece of bread, cut into pieces
Pin wheel sandwiches with flatbread, deli meats, cheese and veggies
Grilled Cheese roll-ups – cooked rolled not flat
If you live locally you also have the benefit of Snack Buddies for your lunches in the 2016-17 school year – which are fresh fruit and vegetable school packs from 1st Quality Produce. Snack Buddies range from basic orange wedges and melon cubes to jicama sticks and specialty produce like yellow pear tomatoes. Each pack focuses on a different character and sports theme (nine total) and offers fun facts about those sports and the fruit or veggie featured.
These are great additions to school lunches and fall into that easy and convenient category I talked about earlier. Talk about a win-win, speedy lunch prep for you and a healthy snack for the kiddos.
Keep a look out for Snack Buddies soon or check out 1st Quality Produce for more details.