School Lunch Organization
Posted by Devin
My boys attend a school that has a 4-day school week. I love love having 3 day weekends, but along with the short school week come long days and EARLY mornings! Our boys have to be to the bus stop by 7:05 a.m., which means that I need to be up and going by 6.
In the morning my schedule goes like this (not including any pre-6am workouts, that is): make sure boys are awake and getting dressed (they have their own alarm clock but sometimes I have to go double check), make breakfast, make school lunches, comb boys hair, family scripture study, family prayers, help boys get everything in backpacks and out the door. Yes, it usually takes about 45 minutes to accomplish it all.
I found that the part of my morning that used to consume most of my time was packing school lunches. I was always super rushed and behind because I was trying to figure out what to pack, get everything into ziploc bags, try to remember if I had just given them the exact same thing the day before, make sandwiches, etc, etc. It was sort-of my Achilles' heel in my morning routine.
So I decided to get organized. What. A. Difference!!! Lunches are no trouble any more.
My 5 Steps to School Lunch Organization:
1. Make a master-list of my boys' favorite lunch foods. Besides the 4-day school week, my boys' school is also pretty strict about what the scholars are allowed to eat while there. It is a long day and they want to make sure students are eating healthy foods. And because it is such a long day, they not only take a lunch but also a morning and afternoon snack. Every day my boys get a sandwich and a juice box but I like to mix up their sides and snack foods. So having a list of a variety of healthy foods my boys like to eat makes planning easier for me.
Need some ideas for lunch snacks? Here are some of our usual foods I like to pack for the boys: apple slices with peanut butter, grapes, carrot sticks, granola bars, fruit snacks, strawberries, bananas, goldfish crackers, animal crackers, Jell-O cups, pudding cups, applesauce, fruit cups, crackers and cheese, graham crackers, vanilla wafers, pretzels, yogurt, celery sticks, raisins, and even sometimes corn tortilla chips with salsa. We ARE a family of Mexican food eaters, after all. ;)
2. Set out and pre-package all foods the weekend before the school week. I like to plan exactly what I will be putting in the boys' lunches and then have everything ready and waiting to be put in their lunch boxes the weekend before. This way all I have to do in the morning is make a sandwich and grab everything else. If the items are individually packaged already, I simply count out how many I'll need for the week. For things like crackers or carrot sticks or grapes, I make sure everything is washed (for produce) and packaged into ziploc bags. Here is what an average week of lunch supplies looks like.
3. I keep any items that need to be chilled in their own container that I can quickly pull out of the refrigerator. This keeps everything together and organized and speeds up the lunch making process in the mornings. I bought my container for $1 at the Dollar Tree.
4. As for the other foods that simply need to be stored at room temperature, I keep them in a cookie jar on my counter. And next to my cookie jar, I have a glass container in which I always have a supply of plastic spoons ready to be thrown into lunch bags. Between puddings and applesauces and Jell-O cups, it seems like they usually need a spoon.
5. The last thing I do to organize is make sure that each night when the boys return from school I clean out their lunch boxes, re-freeze their lunch box cooler inserts, and refill their water bottles and put them in the fridge.
With all of this planning, my mornings run super smoothly. I simply have to make sandwiches and everything else is grab-and-pack! An added benefit to this method is that I never over- OR under-buy on lunch supplies any more. I always know just what I need for the week since it is not a daily scramble to figure it out. It may sound like a lot of work, but it really isn't. In the end, it saves me precious time and energy. Good luck packing those lunches! I hope everyone has a great school year!
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