Already sick of packing school lunches for your kids? Or are your kids complaining about having nothing good to pack? Getting your kids off to school each day can be a VERY stressful time. One thing that has helped us take some of the stress out of the mornings is by prepping school lunches for the week on Sunday night. I prep the lunches for them, and they put their lunch together on their own each morning. This is the way it works best for us. If you want to give this a try, read on!
I let my kids choose one or two school hot lunches each week, but the rest of the days they bring a lunch from home. It is usually less expensive, and in our case, healthier. If I let my kids each the school’s food everyday, they would almost always choose the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, because they are picky eaters!
Once we’ve decided how many times they need to pack a lunch from home in a week, I’m ready to start prepping their lunches. I like to keep lunches simple and fuss-free. I want them to take something to drink, a fruit or veggie, a protein, a grain, and an optional treat. In order to help them do this, I prepare single-servings of each category and put them all in one place to make it easy for the kids to find. I have one basket in the fridge, and one basket in a cupboard.
This is what is currently in these two baskets at my house (the week is half over, so they aren’t very full). The basket I keep in the fridge has enough juice boxes, strawberries, and salami (for sandwiches) for both of my school-aged kids to take two more lunches from home this week. The basket we keep in the cupboard has crackers and pudding. This basket goes in the cupboard next to their lunch boxes, thermoses, and plastic cutlery. Everything is kept in one convenient place so that my third and fourth grader can assemble their lunches all on their own! The only thing I need to do is make sure they pack a lunch on the days they don’t like what school is serving. 🙂
Before you can start using this process for school lunches, you need to ensure that your kids are able to make simple foods. (Even a kindergartner can make a sandwich.) These are the things that my kids learned how to make early on when they started elementary school: sandwiches, hot dogs, and spaghettios (and other things they can heat up in a microwave and put in their thermos to keep warm). Now we are teaching them to use the stove, so that soon they can start bringing other items like quesadillas, soups, and meatballs.
When you first start having your kids make their own lunches, you will actually want to make their lunches with them. Then you can move on to having them do it by themselves with you only supervising. And finally, they will be ready to make the lunches all on their own! This is a great progression for teaching them responsibility.
Do your kids know how to make some simple foods? Then you are ready to start training them to pack their own lunches. Let’s break it down into simple steps. Here’s what you need to do:
- Purchase baskets to place in your fridge and cupboard to keep school lunch supplies together.
- Decide on one or two lunches that your kids can make this week.
- Purchase the food and supplies.
- Containers or Ziploc bags
- Plastic cutlery
- Prepare food and place in single-serving containers or Ziploc bags. Put these in your baskets.
- Show your kids how to take one of each item in the baskets for their lunches.
- Each morning, remind your kids if they need to pack a lunch that day.
That’s it! I’ve found that my kids like making their own lunches, because they have some decision-making power in it. I like to include them when I’m deciding on which lunches to have on hand for the week to make sure they are lunches they will actually eat. 😉
Happy lunch prepping!