I have a love/hate relationship with lunches. I love making them because I have control over what my family is eating and most importantly it’s much easier on the budget than either buying out every day or, in my daughter’s case, paying an additional $5.00 per day for her daycare. Though we still do have an occasional lunch out, 90% of the time you’ll find me in the kitchen after our daughter is in bed, prepping our lunches for the next day.
I’m the least fussy person in the world to satisfy when it comes to lunch. If we have no real ‘’meal worthy food’’ in the house I’m perfectly content with taking a bunch of fruit and snacks for the day. My kid however isn’t so easy to please. Thankfully she thrives on routine and for now we have a few easy go-to’s that we’re able to rotate.
The biggest downside when I think about lunch prep is time. My husband cannot for the life of him figure out what takes me so long when I tell him I’m going to make our lunches. Honestly it took time to figure out, but when I’m organized I can prep in less than half the time it would normally take me. To do this I’ve found a few tricks to make prepping lunches a little easier.
If your kids are heading back to school these tips can help you with their school lunches.
Prep, well in advance
Leaving all lunch requirements to the night before can be stressful. There is often more involved than you think and your 5 minute intention quickly turns into a 45 minute endeavour. By prepping a few things in advance you can shave quite a bit of time off your evening (or morning) lunch packing routine.
Simple things like having fruits and veggies already washed can be a time saver. Pre-pack these things in portion sized package so they can be grabbed and thrown into the bag. Our daughter loves a simple PB and J sandwich so I’ll usually make a few at once and freeze them. They freeze and thaw perfectly fine and makes my life much easier when they’re done.
Think outside the box
Growing up, lunch was a sandwich, drink and fruit. I don’t remember ever questioning it, that’s just what we got. There were variations on the sandwich and bread but that was about it. Though our daughter does likes her sandwiches, she also loves even easier stuff like crackers and cheese. I buy multigrain rice crackers (rice stays much harder and crunchier longer than traditional crackers), and will send her with those, hummus and cheese. Throw in a fruit or veggie and her yogurt and it’s the fastest lunch to pack!
Organize the fridge and cupboard
This goes with prep but keeping things organized makes everything easier. I have a basket where our snacks go, a place for the yogurt in the fridge and a dedicated spot for fruit. It allows me to open the cupboard or fridge, grab what I need and throw in the lunch bag, almost with my eyes closed. I always pack our lunches with: a ‘’main’’+ water + yogurt + fruit or veggie. Having a system in place makes my life so much easier.
Bringing our own lunches saves us in many ways. Not only are we saving a ton of money by packing food from home (an average of $2-$3/lunch vs. >$10 eating out), we’re saving our health by controlling our portions and caloric intakes. Though there can be prep work involved in the beginning, once you start ‘’brown bagging it’’ it will quickly become second nature.