5 Tips to Make Packing Lunches Easier

Thanks to Kiran Dodeja Smith from 100 Days of Real Food for sharing this terrific blog post. Scroll to the end of the post to enter our 48 hour giveaway!

 

 

Packing lunches for kids is a hot topic this time of year, and the reality is, it must be done! So wouldn’t it be nice to know how to make this dreaded chore easier? Well, you are in luck, my friends! Today’s post will give you the tools you need to make your wish come true.

I used to loathe lunch-packing duty. Full disclosure: Four-letter words were sometimes heard in my kitchen after hours (i.e., after bedtime hours). I wanted to send a lunch made with love that would nourish yet not make me nutty. I mean, after finally getting four kids into bed, I really didn’t feel like cooking up a storm. No explanation required I’m sure. But I also didn’t want to resort to plain ol’ PB & J every day. Sure it could be a fall-back here and there, but couldn’t I get a little more creative?

I did, in fact. I got creative with timing and trying new things. And I stopped cursing. (Well, I stopped cursing when it came to lunch packing.) And so, without further ado, here are some tips to help you have solid real food lunches, sealed with a kiss and not made after 9:00 pm.

 

 

1. Use Leftovers
This is such a no-brainer, really. You spend time making dinner, so why not send it for lunch? Using what you have on hand helps you break out of the sandwich rut. This is a great way to add variety to your loved one’s lunches and cut down on prep work, not to mention thinking. Because really, how much work does it take to dish out and repackage a meal?


2. Plan Ahead and Freeze Food
This is not a new concept, but it has been such a life changer for me that I’ve actually written two eBooks about it. You know all of those great recipes you come across? Pin them, print them, or hold on to them however you can, and then actually make them. Double the recipes and make extras. Freeze the extras and have them on hand for instant throw-ins. Think waffles, pancakes, muffins, even soups. You can freeze taco meat, pulled pork, chili, and so much more! You wouldn’t think twice about purchasing frozen foods for the same purpose, assuming that the ingredient list lined up, would you? So why not make your own? It’s homemade, REAL convenience food. Made by you. It doesn’t get much sweeter than that.

If you really want to take the guesswork out of it, check out both of my eBooks, available now through August 31st only. They include meal plans, shopping lists, and much more to make real food lunches even easier than you’d think.



3. Try New Things
I used to be fearful of sending a new recipe or something totally different for lunch, because what if my kids wouldn’t eat it? As parents, we want our kids to be happy, and naturally we want them to have full bellies when they are away for a long day. But my personal opinion is, and you may not agree with me, if kids are hungry, they will eat.

I have four kids, and yes, one of them is strong willed. And she’s my pickiest eater, by far. I try new foods and new dishes with all of them and send them in their lunches, and sometimes she (or the others) will come home with leftovers. And that’s okay! I don’t believe in “the clean plate club.” I believe in variety and trying new foods and adapting to things that are new and different. So yes, I will make a chana masala recipe and send it with rice. Or lentil soup, or green pea pesto. They may not love all of these dishes, but many times they do like them and are thankful for something different. In case you didn’t know, kids get bored too!


4. Make it Fun!
Think fun shapes, colorful cards, or even just getting your kids involved in making lunch. I sent pancakes cut into strips one time as the “main meal” and my kids thought I was the coolest. Not keen on cutting your carrots into flower shapes? Not to worry. Stick in a fancy toothpick (I know you have some of those umbrella toothpicks lying around from your daiquiri drinks!) or pull out your cookie cutters. These are fun, creative tools that can easily kick up your game.


5. Take Tips from the Kids
What do kids like in their lunch? We went to our little experts to find out. Here’s what my kids had to say:

Sajin (age 4) – “Raisins, applesauce, a plum, peppers, and pretzels.” We deduced that he likes a variety of little bits of food in his lunch. Hey, he’s 4 years old, maybe that’s what they like!


Shaela (age 7) – “I like seeing things that I made in my lunch. I also like having a rainbow of foods in my lunch. And I like to make trail mixes and put them in.” When she references a rainbow, she really likes to have one red food, one orange, one yellow, etc.


 Deja (age 9) – “I like a mix of foods together” (For example, one time she had peeled clementines + blueberries. I think she likes the variety and color appeal.) “I like putting in things that I’ve made.” (This girl likes control.) :) She also said that she likes things to assemble at school. For instance, I’ll send salads but in one compartment she likes spinach, in another carrots, in another sunflower seeds, etc. She likes to put it together herself. Did I tell you she likes control?


Jaiden (age 11) – “I would rather have lots of different colors (because it makes it look brighter and fun to eat). I also like if a meal is based around one food. For example, a hummus lunch that has hummus + carrots, celery, pita chips, cucumber, etc.. or peanut butter + apple, celery, and pretzels.” (She likes to dip.) :)


And here’s what Lisa’s kids said:

Sydney (age 10) – “I like fun toothpicks and when my sandwiches are cut into squares.” Lisa bought a sandwich cutter that’s likely geared toward toddlers, but who knew her daughters would think it was the coolest thing for sandwiches since sliced bread?


Sienna (age 8) – “I like a lot of fruit and salad for my vegetable.” She’s not a big fan of carrots or other typical veggies, but Lisa always knows a good salad will be a winner with her!

 

*GIVEAWAY* - Enter your own lunch packing tip below and we'll pick one winner to receive both e-books, (Real Lunches, Real Easy and More Real Lunches, Real Easy) plus a 3-pack of LooHoos. 

This giveaway is open for only 48 hours so enter soon.  Both ebooks are only available for purchase until August 31st and they won't be available again until next year.

 


8 Comments

Jessica
Jessica

August 31, 2015

The only tips I have are to organize for the week, pack the night before, and prep veggies and fruits into a big storage bowl so that you can easily pack.

Jennifer
Jennifer

August 27, 2015

I make sandwiches (ham & cheese on croissants for my hubby) & sandwich buns for the kids and freeze them ahead of time. They can grab one from the freezer and they’re thawed by lunch but still cold.

Beth Park
Beth Park

August 27, 2015

We make a menu one week at a time. My little preschooler loves to draw on the menu her choice of a side item. I love the idea of the little ones being apart of planning! Helps with keeping food waste down if they are excited and picking foods they like.

Barbara
Barbara

August 27, 2015

I measure out serving sizes into cups or baggies as soon as I buy them so it is easy to grab and go. This goes for pretzels, crackers, carrots, hummus, sugar snap peas, anything I can as it is easy, portable and the best way to have healthy foods easy available for children as well as for yourself. And don’t forget to re-freeze the cool packs the night before!

Kim
Kim

August 27, 2015

Have an organized fridge and pantry with all lunch items stored together. Get as much prepared the night before school as you can to make mornings less rushed. It also helps when you plan the weeks lunch menu in advance to make lunch making less of a chore each day.

ameirah
ameirah

August 27, 2015

have your kiddo help decide what goes into their lunch, they love to be included it is their lunch, even at the store let them chose items, compromise is best & kids learn with great example!! thanks

Stephanie murray
Stephanie murray

August 27, 2015

My tip is to try to plan ahead for lunches when you’re doing your grocery list. I like to pack leftovers but sometimes there aren’t any (I have two boys!), so planning ahead for pack-able things makes it easier when I’m not using left-overs.

Jennifer Odom
Jennifer Odom

August 27, 2015

My best tip is to pack what you can the night before and have a plan for what will need to be packed in the morning.

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