6 Time-Saving Tips for Packing Healthy Back-to-School Lunches
Brenda Betancourt aka @Kidlunchboxes is a wife to an amazing husband and a mother of three beautiful children. She works as a certified occupational therapy assistant in a pediatric rehab clinic. She loves making lunches for her kids as well as for herself. She says her family tends to eat healthier when she plans ahead. She shares her lunch packing tips and ideas on Instagram and recently started a blog to elaborate on how she packs lunches for her busy, and sometimes chaotic, family.
My weekday mornings usually consist of running around to get myself ready for work and my kids ready for school and/or Grandma’s house. Mornings at my house can get a little crazy. If I don’t plan ahead there is no way I can pack a healthy lunch for all of us.
Packing lunch quickly and easily is essential, and over the years, I have been able to do just that. The key is to keep it simple! Simple almost always equals healthy. I have a few tips that have worked to make lunch packing quick, easy, and fun for us!
Tip # 1: Meal Plan
Meal planning, before heading out to the grocery store, is a must! I don't go so far as to assign a particular meal to a certain day. I simply write down at least three dinners and five lunches and take it from there. I don’t plan breakfast meals, because we either eat fruit and yogurt or eggs and toast. As long as those are readily available, then we are okay. You can follow this same simple approach to meal planning. Once you have a few simple meals planned out, head to the store, and do your shopping!
Tip # 2: Meal Prep
I like to meal prep on Sundays, because that is usually when I buy my groceries. By meal prep, I don’t mean cook and prep all your meals for the week. However, if you like to do that, then by all means go for it! I mean wash fruits and veggies and cut and dice them if you need to. I like to slice apples one night before I plan to take them for lunch. I soak them in a bowl of salt water (just a teaspoon of salt in a large bowl of water) to prevent browning. Then, I put them right into the lunch container. My same process can work for you too. Having all your fruits and veggies washed and sliced makes packing lunch easier because all you have to do is grab some and put them in the lunch box.
Tip # 3: Pack The Night Before
Packing the night before saves so much time in the morning. When lunch is packed and ready to go, we can just grab our containers, put them in our lunch bags with an ice pack, and off we go! I pack lunch when I am done cleaning up after dinner. Sometimes, I even pack before we are done eating dinner, which leads to tip # 4!
Tip # 4: Pack Leftovers From Dinner
Go ahead and make a little extra spaghetti or baked chicken and pack your lunch even before everyone has dinner! Just pack it in your lunch containers before dinner starts, put it in the fridge, and you are done. In the morning, you can just grab some of your pre-washed fruits and vegetables for sides and you have a complete lunch ready.
Another idea for leftovers is to make something different for lunch. Taco Tuesday can turn into Taco Salad Wednesday. That leftover rotisserie chicken can make chicken salad or chicken sandwiches for lunch.
Tip # 5: Buy Easy-to-Use and Easy-to-Clean Lunch Containers
To help make lunch packing quick and easy, I like to use bento-style lunch boxes. They are easy-to-use and easy-to-clean. Not all are created equal though. Bento lunch boxes that have one or two pieces are ideal for me. I have up to four lunch boxes to wash in the evenings, and I don't want to have to wash a bento-style set that has a lot of little pieces to clean. The one-piece Bentgo Kids compartment tray makes it easier to pack lunch because I can easily lay them out on the counter and fill them all at once.
Tip # 6: Get the Kids Involved
Getting the kids involved in the lunch-packing process will not only save you time, it can save you money on wasted food. Your kids are more likely to eat all of the lunch they helped pack! They can help wash and dry the fruits and veggies and slice them if they are old enough to use a knife. They can also help load the dishwasher or hand wash their own lunch containers as soon as they come home from school, so they are ready to be packed for the next day. There is always a job for every one of my kids when it comes to lunch packing!
I hope my tips will help you save time when packing lunch. I know that they have helped me turn packing lunch from a chore into something I actually enjoy. Please feel free to comment below and share your tips for making lunch packing a breeze!
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