Last week, my friend Andrea posted the smartest back-to-school lunch-making advice on her Facebook page. In short, what she had to say was this:
• Cutting cheese and sandwich fillings into shapes is time-consuming and wasteful.
• Kids eat a bazillion times a day, so if they don’t eat their lunch it’s not an #epicfail.
• Get the kids packing their own lunch; you won’t regret it.
Like me, Andrea is the mom of two teenage boys, and after more than a dozen years of packing lunches for school, I think we’ve both gained some perspective that we agree on: it’s just lunch, and surely there are bigger things we need to worry about.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I completely understand the stress that comes from wanting to feed your children well during the day. From the time our babies are born, feeding them is the thing that occupies the most mental space. But I also know now that there will be some days (heck, some years!) where lunches are going to come home uneaten, tastes are going to change and what worked in the lunchbox last week won’t work well for next. It’s frustrating for sure, but not life altering, and at the end of the day, it is just lunch, something you’ve probably been feeding them all summer without worry.
Here are a few more practical strategies I have for stress-free lunch packing:
• Double your dinner recipe and pack the leftovers in the lunchbox – especially when you make a meal you know your kids really love.
• Don’t worry if they don’t eat their fruit or vegetables. I had one child skip the produce portion of his lunch every single day for an entire school year. My solution? Give an extra serving of fruit with breakfast, and double the vegetables at dinner.
• Pack the food you know your kids will eat, not what you wish they would eat.
• Bento-style lunch boxes let kids spent their time eating, not opening packages.
• Do not succumb to the pressure of Pinterest to make your school lunches look like a piece of art.
• Batch cook as often as possible! Making muffins, cookies, and mini quiche on the weekends is a huge time saver, but I also really like to prep all of my cut fruits and veggies in advance so they are ready for tucking into the lunchbox when I’m packing it each morning.
• Which brings me to my last piece of advice: most people suggest you pack your lunch the night before, but I say pack it whenever it works best for you! I’m a morning person and I’d rather stuff lunchboxes while I’m drinking my tea than when I’m sitting down with a glass of wine at the end of the day.
Okay, now it’s your turn… what’s your best piece of advice for making stress-free school lunches?