I watched him saunter down the street. He jumped a puddle, kicked at a stone, and swatted at what seemed to be a bumblebee before balancing and walking tight-rope-style along the length of the fallen tree trunk. Then he leaped for the flat sandstone paver and the front gate, swinging the gate open with his impetus. (Mmmm.... I really need to fix that gate latch.)
He landed successfully and then paused for a moment before kneeling to remove the lunchbox from his backpack.
I sighed, and watched him race to the woodpile and shove the contents of his lunchbox deep within the pile.
"You're home, Ben!" I called. "How was your day?"
"Yep.. okay," he replied.
"Did you eat your lunch?"
Immediately, the lunchbox came out again, opened for inspection. I sighed again, thinking of the time I'd spent planning and preparing a tasty lunchbox for my kids, Ben included.
Like so many mothers, I struggled with preparing interesting, healthy and varied lunches that my kids would actually consume. And, as a teacher I know that, given the chance, kids will compare lunches, trade the contents, pass them over to someone else or just toss the contents in the rubbish bin. Aghh!!
Not only is that frustrating, it's a real struggle to find the time to plan and prepare these meals for growing bodies in the first place.
There is nothing worse than running late in the morning and then desperately trying to figure out something you can put in your children’s lunch boxes. If you find yourself flustered, or end up buying school lunch because packing it seems like too much of a hassle, take a look at the tips below.
They will help you get organized so fixing lunches becomes quick and easy.
And... there's a helpful bonus included.
1. Start With A List And Go Shopping
Start by sitting down with your kids and come up with a list of lunches they like. This could include sandwiches and wraps, or even homemade pizza slices or pockets, but it doesn’t have to stop there. If you add a thermos to the mix, you can suddenly pack reheated leftovers, homemade soup and the likes. The key is to find lunch foods and snacks that your kids will eat that are also easy to pack.
Make sure you have appropriate containers, and then head to the grocery store to pick up everything you need for the week. Don’t forget about snacks and drinks as needed. The list should make this much easier.
Once you have several different lunch ideas your kids like and will actually eat, you can simply rotate through them and make the ingredients part of your weekly shopping trips.
2. Prep What You Can As Soon As You Get Home
When you get home from the store, keep lunch foods out and see what you can do to prep things ahead of time. Instead of putting that bag of grapes away, go ahead and wash and store them in little bags you can grab and toss in the lunch box. The same goes for things like carrots and even salads. Slice cheese as needed and just thing about what you can prep as soon as you get home.
3. Pack Lunches The Night Before
Mornings are busy and not always the perfect time to have to worry about packing lunches. Try making them the night before. Try packing them after dinner at night. Get the kids involved and have them help with lunch prep and clean-up after. You can store cold items in the fridge and have everything else sitting in the lunch box ready to go.
It won’t take you long to get into a rhythm of preparing lunches while you’re cleaning up after dinner. You’ll appreciate this new habit in the mornings when all you need to do is grab a couple of things from the fridge and toss them in the lunch boxes.
4. Get In The Habit Of Cleaning Lunch Boxes As Soon As The Kids Get Home
To make lunch prep even easier, get the kids into the habit of cleaning out their lunch box as soon as they get back from school. Even the youngest can help with this.
Have them toss any uneaten food and bring the containers to the sink to be washed.
Older children can easily clean their own containers, while you’ll probably have to do the washing for your youngest.
Having everything clean and ready to go will make it easier to pack the new lunches later on in the day.
Stick to these tips and it won’t take you long to get into an efficient lunch packing routine that will make it a snap.
5. Involve the kids
Don’t forget to get the kids involved and put them in charge of much of the preparations. Not only will this make your live easier in the long run, it will give them a sense of ownership over their lunch.... and they'll be more likely to eat their lunch.
Having said that, don't forget to include the occasional surprise for them. It could be as simple as a little note or encouragement card. It could be something special like a container of cherries or home grown mulberries. It could be a really special lunch creation like these inspirational ideas. Or, it could be a voucher to the local Bounce trampoline centre after school.
Hopefully, your kids will grow to enjoy their lunches and look forward to opening their lunchboxes.
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Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.