Back To School Lunch: How To Plan and Keep Up With Packed Lunches

August 17, 2015

We can't deny it, summer is coming to an end and the kids need portable food. Back-to-school is a huge adjustment for everyone involved and healthy fuel helps your little chefs get through the day.

If you have ever seen what most school lunches consist of then you know that a homemade lunch is the way to go. But it's not always easy. There are weeks when that darn brown bag just taunts me! My kids homeschool, but premade lunches are part of the program at our place, too. Everything is great for a week or so, then I lose my interest. Yes, I admit it. Over the years, I have had to come up with ways to keep the ideas flowing and the lunches going out of the kitchen. Here are some of my favorite tips.

Have a Plan
Yes, it's a simple statement, but one that works every time. If you have a plan for every day of the school week, there is no thinking involved. Pick a protein, a veggie, a fruit or two, and even something sweet if you want. Make a list of ideas that fit into each category and have them on hand. Then you grab, grab, grab and lunch is finished!

Buy Some Basic Equipment
From snack baggies to little condiment containers, having all the little places to tuck a few bites of healthy food makes everything much more appealing to your kids and answer the question, "what do I do with this last bite of ___?" I especially like these for leftovers. My kids like to eat things that are all "prepared" for them, so little containers get finished off, where as a few different bites on a single plate do not.

I also love making bento (a Japanese boxed meal), and the options are limitless there. You can buy little shaped cutters for fruits and vegetables and shaped presses for sandwiches. These simple tools make a big difference in how fun and interesting bento can look. Your kids will love them!

Think Outside the Box
Not every lunch has to look like a kitten playing with a spaghetti noodle, it's just as satisfying for your littlest chef to open their lunchbox and see something made with love. If you remember school, you know that there are days when that little bit of love gets you through the rest of your school day. Some of my best work consists of leftovers packed in small containers, and rolling up peanut butter and fluff into tortilla pinwheels. Remember those sword swizzle sticks our parents used to collect? They make fantastic Pirate swords to hold rows of grapes and keep sandwiches standing upright. Be versatile and have fun with it!

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