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I’m so excited about today’s post, you guys! I’m finally spilling the beans and showing you every little detail about packing my kids’ school lunches. This one simple method has been life changing, and has simplified both my hectic mornings and my grocery shopping. With the strategies and handy printable checklist that I’m about to share, you’ll realize just how easy packing school lunches can be!
Ever since I shared a few photos of my kids’ lunch boxes on Instagram, many readers have requested that I share the details. To be honest, packing lunches is one of the Mom Chores that I dread most. At 6:30 in the morning, when I’m rushing around to get myself + 3 boys fed, dressed, and out the door, the last thing that I feel like doing is making turkey sandwiches or coming up with creative lunch ideas. Instead, I’m stressed out, frantic, and tend to just default to the same ole’ thing (PB&J every day!). That’s no way to start the day, so this year I decided that I would spend a few extra minutes on meal prep over the weekend so that I can completely eliminate this daily stress during the week. You know what? It works like a charm!
With a general strategy (that I’m about to share), I can prepare 5 different lunches and package them so that they stay fresh for the entire week. I avoid the last-minute rush each morning, I only have to clean up the kitchen once, and I can easily plan my grocery list to eliminate waste since I know what I’ll be packing in advance.
The key is using perishable ingredients at the beginning of the week, while saving the stay-fresh options for later in the week. Need some examples and some meal ideas? Here’s the general framework that I use (just click the image for your own printable PDF list!):
As you can see, I like to use leftovers and deli meat sandwiches or wraps at the beginning of the week, since the bread will get stale or soggy by Friday. I’m sure to wrap each individual sandwich tightly in plastic wrap or a bag before adding it to the container. This keeps any air out and prevents drying. Later in the week, the boys’ lunches take advantage of more packaged (but still nutritious) items, such as applesauce pouches, raisins, trail mix, wholegrain crackers, nut butters, and cheese sticks.
I recently brought this Marvel® Avengers String Cheese home from Walmart and the boys have been hooked. In fact, they’ve been known to eat two or three in one sitting! The Marvel® Avengers String Cheese is made with milk, is a good source of calcium and protein, and is a wholesome, healthy choice for kids. As you can tell from my chart above, I often use it in lunch boxes towards the end of the week because it stays fresh in the refrigerator and it pairs nicely with wholegrain crackers and fruit for a filling meal.
This is an example of the lunch that Casey ate on Friday this week. I included the Marvel® Avengers String Cheese, crackers, a package of organic apple slices that keep really well in the refrigerator and don’t turn brown, and some trail mix for more healthy fats, protein, and a sweet treat.
On Sunday afternoons I just set up an assembly line and prepare all of the lunches for the week in this way (referencing my list above, as necessary). I’m actually preparing a total of 10 lunches at a time since I have two boys in school all day, so this is by far the most efficient way to handle the task!
Once the meals are all packed in the boxes on my counter, I close the lids and label each box with a sticky note. That way I can easily grab the appropriate container in the morning without trying to figure out what’s inside!
In the morning, I place flat ice packs in the bottom of an insulated lunch box,
add the lunch, and toss it in the backpack!
About 30 minutes on Sunday saves me loads of time and stress during the week, making mornings just a wee bit smoother around here!
Do you want to give it a try? Don’t forget to download your FREE printable PDF copy of my checklist HERE, and be sure to grab your Marvel® Avengers String Cheese at Walmart using the $1 off coupon (it expires on 1/15/2017). You can get the coupon and check out kids’ activities and tips for moms at www.cheeseadventures.com. Enjoy, friends!