With kids returning to school, we parents are busier than ever getting our families organized. We are purchasing school supplies, lunch supplies, making calendars of the family member’s activities, coordinating childcare and bus schedules… basically trying to figure out how exactly are we going to get it all done.
Making a variety of school lunches that are healthy and your kids will actually eat? That’s for the pros. Not! I might help parents make fresh school lunches for a living but I assure you that you too, can get-it-together in 10 minutes or less on your own.
I have 3 children and I know first hand how difficult it can be to find something suitable for everyone to eat without becoming a short order cook. The thought of whipping up dinner 7 nights a week and packing healthy lunches might be a daunting task for many of you; but I can assure you that by implementing these 5 tips it will be easier than ever.
1. Make a plan. Planning your meals and creating a shopping list to go with it will save you time and money on wasted food and unhealthy last minute drive-thru purchases. If the whole menu planning thing overwhelms you or you don’t know where to begin, you can always subscribe to a family friendly menu plan for a few cents a day.
2. Cook once, eat twice. Are you firing up the grill? Cook extra or another meal all together, save it in the fridge and dinner is nearly made for another night. That extra chicken breast no one ate? Great for lunch the next day in a sandwich, quesadilla, wrap or on a salad. Boiling pasta or cooking rice? Double it! Now you have ready-made food quick lunches and won’t have to boil water while having an infant or toddler on your hip -Not that I would know…
3. Have healthy snacks ready to go. Snacks are one of those things we always need to have on hand because our children seem to always be hungry. Find a few snacks that are easy to make or assemble and have them ready. You know kids are usually starving by the time they get home, so having healthy snacks on hand can be very helpful.
4. The freezer is your friend. Once a week, I have a breakfast-for-dinner night. While the waffle maker or griddle is out, I double even triple the batch. By freezing your waffles or pancakes you now have instant homemade breakfasts ready to toast. Hate cleaning your waffle maker? Check out an easy way here. Have a picky eater who only eats peanut butter sandwiches? Make a whole loaf of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and freeze the whole bag. Pull a sandwich out in the morning and it will be thawed out and perfect temperature for lunch. No icepacks needed.
5. Prep-Early. Why not marinade, pre-assemble tomorrow’s lunch while you are making dinner? Since you already have a messy kitchen, go ahead and prep-it-up! When you get home from the grocery wash all your produce, chop and sort ready to pack in the lunch bags.
I know what it’s like to pack lunches for a week the night before my c-section as well as making lunches daily with a baby on my hip while the other two are begging to raid the pantry. I sometimes suffer from the meal-time scramble at my house! I’ve learned that with a little planning, lunches are assembled quickly and 30-minute meals can be made in a lot less time because I had the ingredients on hand. Fresh lunches should be easy to make, don’t you think?
-- Laura Fuentes shows parents how to make fresh school lunches over at MOMables™. A wife, mother of 3 and a lunch enthusiast who insists on healthy, wholesome food for her family. On her personal blog, Super Glue Mom, she writes about managing motherhood on a deadline. She’s also a food contributor and recipe developer to numerous sites, and helps busy parents overcome the difficulties of cooking real food in a hurry. You can find Laura on Twitter and on Facebook and MOMables on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.