I love the idea of bento lunch boxes filled with sandwiches cut into fun shapes and a variety of fruit skewered onto cute toothpicks, but sadly, my school lunch reality is very different.
I hate making school lunches.
I have four kids who all need a school lunch. Two of them don’t eat sandwiches, one is always ravenous and never has enough food, and the other is so vague he is likely to forget he even has a lunch.
Three out of my four kids are NOT morning people, and neither am I, so the start of the day is a little frantic. Mornings are not the time for me to be making little bunnies out of sandwiches, and neither are the evenings thanks to after school activities, homework, the fact that my family seems to want to eat dinner every night, and my unreasonable desire to just have 10 minutes to myself!
School lunches kill me.
But I’ve been doing this school lunch thing for more than 8 years now, and I’ve come up with a few ways to make school lunches easier to manage and a bit more bearable.
How to make school lunches easier to manage.
Here are my seven simple tips for making school lunches easier to manager.
Work out what your kids will actually eat and keep a list of ideas.
You can download our free printable lunchbox ideas list here – get the kids to fill it in.
Work out how much each child will eat.
Get the kids to bring home leftovers so you know if they have too much or not enough and you don’t waste time or money sending too much food.
Find containers/lunch boxes that work for your kids.
Make sure they can open and close containers, that they fit in the lunch box and that the lunch box fits in their school bag.
After school lunch boxes immediately get emptied and repacked by the kids
No squished fruit left to get sticky overnight and we tick off the dreaded lunch box task asap. Anything that is cold stays in the fridge and is added in the morning.
Make it easy for kids to choose and pack their own lunch boxes
Have a spot in the pantry for snacks or a list of lunch box item so it’s easy for the kids to choose and to make sure they have everything they need.
If you can prepare it in bulk ahead of time, do it.
Pre cut fruit and veggies in advance where possible. Make sandwiches and other items and store them in the fridge. Sandwiches and items like pizza rolls keep in the fridge for up to three days so you only have to make them twice a week. You can freeze things like pancakes and muffins and let them defrost in the lunch box during the day.
Use leftovers for lunches
Lots of dinner items work great in lunch boxes, so make a little bit more of dinner and kill two birds with one stone. Burritos, potato salad, pasta salad, quiche are all good options for bottomless pit kids.
Above all else – keep it simple.
If school lunches are a chore that you loathe, don’t lump any more guilt onto the pile by feeling like you have to fill your kid’s lunch boxes with something special every single day.
If making food into adorable works of art makes the lunch box nightmare a little more bearable for you then go right ahead, if not, ditch it. If funny notes and cute accessories makes your kids’ day, then do it occasionally as a special treat.
Focussing on providing decent food, that the kids will eat, without anyone going crazy is the important thing, and that is hard enough already.
I still hate making school lunches, but these days, with these systems in place, at least it is a lot quicker and easier.
Do your kids take lunch to school?
Do you love or loathe making lunches?
Have you got any great tips to share?