It’s day three, our second day of packing together, and I’d say we’re off to a great start!
If you’re following the meal plan I prepared, tomorrow’s lunch (that we’re prepping tonight) is sandwich kabobs! I mentioned yesterday that sometimes changing up the shape of your kids food will make them more interested – and it really works! I know this is going to be hard to believe, but kids don’t always know what they want 😉 I tried sandwich kabobs with my seven year old who isn’t crazy about sandwiches. Sometimes we change it up and use lettuce or cucumbers instead of bread to hold everything together, too!
Today you’ll see me prepping lunches for both kids, I added a little music just for fun:
A few tips and takeaways from today’s video:
- No two kids are alike! If you’re packing for multiple kids, you can maximize your grocery budget by buying things they both like (fruits, veggies, proteins) but also give them something individually. You’ll see I added pickles and green peppers instead of cucumbers with ranch for my 10 year old. I like to include at least one favorite in each lunchbox.
- Coffee stirrers work great in place of toothpicks! AHHHH I ran out of toothpicks. I had some flat wooden coffee stirrers on hand because those are what I use to grill shrimp (they don’t flip because the surface is flat!) I broke them in half and they worked perfectly in place of toothpicks – never be afraid to improvise!
- Prewash your fruits! Can you see that colander peeking in the corner? That’s full of grapes, I always prewash my fruit and leave it in colanders or in bins in the fridge. It makes for easy access for the kids when they want snacks, as well as grab and go when I’m packing lunches!
Remember I told you I was going to bring in some of my favorite lunch packing mamas? Today I’m excited to have my friend Gillian, founder of LaLa Lunchbox here sharing some of her best tips when it comes to planning lunches!
You may notice some of the tips you get from myself, and the group of amazing moms I’m featuring throughout the week are similar, or cross over one another – that’s because they work! Some methods are so tried and true for all of us, we want you to put them in place and see how well they really work. The reason I asked these moms to chime in is because they are real moms like you and I, jugging kids, work, and life in general. These mamas pack lunches for their kids everyday (or almost everyday) and they are quite simply, the real deal.
Gillian shares some great lunch ideas on her Instagram account, be sure to read through to the end and I’ll share all of her social media links. Without further ado, here she is…
Whether your kiddos are already back to school or you are still relishing the last days of summer, the start of a new school year can feel pretty overwhelming. And if you’ve had a break from lunch packing for the summer, getting back into a routine can be downright miserable. I feel your pain. I’m right there in the trenches with you packing 3 lunches day in, day out.
Every new school year, parents flock to social media earnestly seeking inspiration but can quickly feel deflated and underprepared. Look, you don’t need a PhD in planning, food styling or cooking to stay on top of your school lunch game. I’ve got 4 tips for you to make the whole thing easier. Give it a try, and if you’re still miserable, email me with your best rants. Seriously.
Tip 1: Involve your kids.
I can’t emphasize this one enough. In fact, if Gina asked me to come up with just one tip, it would be this one. My company, LaLa Lunchbox, is all about meal planning, kids and technology. Our mission is to empower the next generation to make healthful decisions around food and we do that with a simply designed, powerful app. Here are the benefits of getting your kids involved in choosing their own lunches:
- It takes the stress off of you. One less thing on your todo list sounds pretty sweet, right?
- It saves you time. Say goodbye to wracking your brain to come up with ideas!
- It saves you money. Remember how cranky your kid was after school when he didn’t eat that lunch you chose for him? Remember how you had to throw away that wasted, smelly, uneaten food? Say goodbye to that too.
- It inspires your kids. When kids are given the latitude to explore foods that wouldn’t ordinarily be top of mind, they tend to choose variety. (sayonara, picky eating!)
- It helps their organizational skills. Hello, life skill!
- It provides an opportunity for families to talk. When you hand your child the iPhone or iPad to plan lunches using LaLa Lunchbox, those choices immediately become a grocery list for you. If you see that your child chose, say, only cookies every day, that’s a great opportunity for you to chat about why that wouldn’t be beneficial for her, and what foods would help her power through her day with enough energy to master the monkey bars at the playground after school.
But hey, don’t just take my word for it. Try it yourself and let me know how it goes! And soon, you can find and download the amazing food bundle curated by Gina, loaded with her creative lunch ideas! (Stay tuned for an update on when that will launch!)
Tip 2: Prep produce in advance.
Want to know the best way to make sure that your kids are eating fruits and vegetables in their lunch? Make it easy to pack them quickly. Pick one day of the week, set aside 20-30 minutes and get friendly with your cutting board and favorite knife. Trust me, you won’t regret this. Packing fruits and veggies is a thousand times easier when they are washed, peeled, sliced and ready to go all week. Prepped produce reduces the time it takes to pack lunch significantly and added bonus: it is also a time saver for breakfast and dinner! The lunch below took all of 3 minutes to pack because everything was prepped in advance except the hummus, which just needed to be scooped into the container.
Tip 3: Keep it simple.
Lunch doesn’t have to be complicated or an artistic masterpiece to be delicious! My kids and I sometimes browse lunches on Instagram and guess what? Their eyes are typically drawn to images with foods that look recognizable and straightforward. Simple strawberries. Hard boiled eggs. Sliced raw peppers. Cheese and crackers. It’s no different in the lunchroom when they open up that lunchbox. Foods in their most natural form are appealing and delicious to kids but best of all they’re easy to pack. Lunches don’t have to be Pinterest-worthy, just balanced and satisfying. The lunch below has nothing fancy. It’s just fruits, veggies and protein. So hey mama, take a load off!
Tip 4: Pack lunches at night.
I’d be dead in the water if I didn’t pack lunches at night. I’m not sure how people do it in the morning and I’m a morning person! Even simple lunches packed with pre-prepped produce take a few minutes to assemble, and I’ll be honest, I can’t spare those extra few minutes in the morning. As it is, I’m chugging my coffee to make sure I get my daily dose before running out each morning. Here’s what I do, and I swear, this is what keeps me sane: while I’m knee deep in dinner clean up, I carve a bit of space on my kitchen counter and just get the job done. It makes it easy to pack leftovers if my kids have asked for them, and I only have to load the dishwasher once. With 3 lunches packed every evening, I’m way more relaxed than I would be if the task was still ahead of me in the morning. Give it a try for a week and let me know how it goes for you. Half of the dinner below is leftovers from dinner that one of my kids requested. Tossing food into the lunchbox right after dinner makes life way easier.
Whatever you decide to do for your lunch planning strategy, back to school can be a daunting time. Try to remember that we’re all in this together. Best of luck for the back to school season and beyond! -Gillian
Pretty great tips, huh? You can find Gillian and LaLa Lunchbox on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and visit the LaLa Lunchbox blog here. I hope you’ve found today’s tips, takeaways helpful. Join us over in the Facebook group and let us know what you think, how it’s going so far, and if you have any questions!