Virtual Lunch Party: Day Four

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Welcome to day four, I hope you’re having as much fun as I am! 

I am absolutely loving the conversation that is happening in our Facebook group, and I love seeing all of your lunchbox photos. One of the reasons I started this virtual lunch party is because I wanted a better way to connect with those of you who were reaching out for tips, tricks and lunch ideas – and it’s working! 

On tomorrow’s menu we’ve got a dippable snack box – this is such a fun way to get over the midweek hump. The possibilities are endless with snack boxes, and they are absolutely perfect for when you’re running low on groceries, time or energy (guilty!). Snack boxes can be just as nutritious as a traditional lunch – so don’t think every food has to be a “snack” food. Instead of sharing another video of me packing lunch, today I thought I would change it up and include a little slideshow of some of my kids favorite snack boxes. Here they are:

A few tips and takeaways from today’s video:

  • Do your kids despise a certain food? Try letting them DIP IT! My oldest isn’t a veggie lover like my 7 year old, but if I let him dip them, he’s all for it – dippable salad is a real thing! 
  • You can dip with more than ketchup and mustard! Nut (or nut free) butters make wonderful dips, as do salad dressings, honey, whipped cream, cream cheese, and more. Keep an open mind when it’s dipping time!
  • If you’re using a bento box, you can maximize space by layering fruits and veggies together. Each portion does not have to have it’s own individual food. You’ll see that in some of the boxes above.

Today’s featured lunch packing mama is my friend Jennifer from Big Boss Bites! I’m excited to introduce you to her, you can find her on Instagram @big.boss.bites – she shares both toddler and grade school lunches and meal ideas that I think are awesome. Today she is sharing her best tips for packing lunches for multiple kids, here she is…

Big Boss Bites

Tip #1: Make a list before grocery shopping! I know you’ve heard this before, but stay with me. In this case, make 2 lists- one will be your “master” list and the other will be your grocery list for the weekly (or bi-weekly) grocery trip. For your “master” list, jot down what each child loves, likes, and dislikes/ cannot have due to allergies or restrictions set by the school (for example, some schools don’t allow peanut butter). Keep a running “master” list going to help you throughout the year. I scratch out what my kiddos are sick of, or don’t enjoy anymore and add to the list as we try new product or food combinations.

Once you have a master list started for each child (this doesn’t have to be long, the list will grow with time), compare what they love, like, and dislike to make your grocery list for the week (or 2 weeks). On my weekly grocery shopping list, I write down 2 or 3 items each child loves or likes, that the other does not, and then I focus on what they both enjoy to fill in the rest of the lunchbox meal plan for the week. This is very helpful even if both children don’t need a packed lunch – in my case I have a school aged child and a toddler.

Tip #2: Keep it simple! If you’re new to packing lunch boxes or simply getting back into the groove of things; my best advice would be to keep it simple. This is especially helpful when you’re packing for more than one child with a big age gap and different nutritional needs. For
me, keeping it simple meant I was able to run the lunch packing race all the way through the year. I focused on trying to pack a balanced meal for my extremely picky eater, over having a super fun lunchbox each day.

For some it’s very easy to pack beautiful lunchboxes (that I love to admire and adore!) each day without getting burned out, but for me, I appreciate simplicity with some fun in between when I have more time and energy. You can make each child’s lunchbox fun with simple age appropriate accessories such as food picks, cloth napkins in fun prints, or lunchbox notes with messages already printed on the card for you- each requires little effort to add in!

Tip #3: Pack the night before! It is a L-I-F-E-S-A-V-E-R! I know some prefer to pack the morning of, but if you can figure out lunchbox meals that hold well overnight, or require a quick morning prep addition (like heating up the main course quickly in the microwave and adding it to the already prepared lunchbox sides); it’ll save you a lot of stress.

Yes, I’m exhausted in the evenings, but the way I see it is: after dinner my kitchen is already a mess, so making more dishes to pack lunchboxes isn’t that big of a deal. I prefer that than trying to juggle getting breakfast made, the kiddos (and myself) dressed and into the car, and feeding the pets all before heading out. It also keeps my morning dishwashing session to a minimum. I ALWAYS pack the night before, and if we’re all going to require alunchbox for next day, I pack one for the toddler and myself the night before as well. If you’re packing a lunch for more than one person (in my case usually just my daughter and husband-pickiest eaters ever) , you’ll appreciate not trying to remember each child/persons likes and dislikes first thing in the morning.

I love Jennifer’s tips, especially the master list idea! Join us over on Facebook tonight for more tips and lunchbox fun 🙂