The Trick to No-Stress Lunch Box Prep

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It’s barely October and I’m tired of making lunches. Can I get an Amen? I’ve been making my kids pack their own lunches for at least 2 weeks now, but I’m pretty sure I’m being judged in car line because the teachers know I’m the mom that allows a sleeve of saltine crackers, a Zaxby’s packet of ranch dressing, and a questionable unicorn cupcake from last week’s birthday party head out the front door, disguised as lunch. I can do better. My kids deserve better midday fuel in their cute little bodies. So, I decided to try prepping a whole week’s worth of lunches in one afternoon. And guess what I discovered – it’s totally doable!

My plan for school lunches

Fruits and veggies

Chop/cut fruits and veggies and put in snack size plastic bags. I opted for oranges, grapes, apples (soak in pineapple juice to keep from browning) carrots and celery. Try cucumbers, broccoli, strawberries or blueberries (no chopping required). The options for this are endless. You can even add a little ranch dressing or fruit dip. Yum!

Sandwiches or wraps

You can try freezing these and depending on your lunchbox they may be thawed by lunch. Refrigerating works for us.

Meat and cheese sandwiches are super easy and kids love them. Just hold off on putting condiments or veggies on sandwiches because no one likes soggy bread. Pack the extras separately, if needed.

Peanut Butter & Jelly, because who doesn’t love PB&J? A professional chef friend taught me that the best way to make a PB&J sandwich stay fresh is to put peanut butter on both pieces of bread, then jelly in the middle – it works!

Package salads

These can be a side or an entree depending on how large you make them. If we have chicken during the week, I will cut up our leftovers and put in baggies for my kids to add to their salads.

My kids love Caesar salad and it’s easy to keep fresh. I buy a big pre-washed bag and sort it into small containers with parmesan cheese and croutons on top. The dressing is packed separate in snack sized ziplock bags or small containers.

Pantry items

These last more than just week which is nice! Stock up on pretzels, chips, individual applesauce, granola bars, cookies, boxes of raisins and anything else your kids will eat that won’t go bad quickly.

The key to this plan is planning ahead and making sure you stock items your kids will eat. There’s no point in stocking your kitchen full of super healthy, expensive food if they aren’t going to pack it and eat it. Find healthy, fun, yummy things they will be excited about throwing into their lunch boxes each morning.

My kids select what they are in the mood for that day and put it in their own lunchboxes each morning. They maintain their independence and some control of their lunch, plus I don’t feel guilty (or get judged) about what they are eating. It may take a few weeks, or even until Christmas break to figure out what quantities and combinations work for your family, but I promise planning and prepping for the whole week will make your school mornings easier.

What are some of your family’s favorite lunchbox items that can be packed ahead?

Meet Jaime Brown
Jaime Brown grew up in Spartanburg and Greenville where she met her future husband in the 6th grade. After marriage and a few kids they moved away for a decade and now find themselves back in the Upstate with their four daughters ages 18, 14, 7 and 4. Having a college age child, high schooler, elementary aged fireball, and a special needs preschooler keeps her very busy but she loves each stage and encourages other moms
to enjoy motherhood. Jaime enjoys rediscovering the city where she grew up with her family. Bonfires, good coffee creamer, date nights, international travel, frugal interior design, and sleeping children are some of her favorite things. You can connect with her on instagram or her blog.
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