Packing lunch is part of our daily routine during the school year. I remember feeling extra stressed in the morning when my daughter first started going to school, so over the last two years I’ve come up with some lunch box packing tips that help with back to school preparation and make life easier for parents.
Lunch Box Packing Tip #1: Recipe Test
There’s nothing worse than opening up your child’s lunchbox when they get home to see that they didn’t eat their lunch. Ok, ok…so there are definitely worse things in life, but it is totally frustrating. To prevent that, I use the last couple of weeks before school starts and weekends during the school year to test lunch box meals. Kids have such specific likes and dislikes and I find that they change so often. Testing the lunch ideas will help give you an idea of what your child will and won’t eat at school.
Lunch Box Packing Tip #2: Presentation is Everything.
I have found that presentation is everything when it comes to toddlers and picky eaters of all ages. For whatever reason, the vegetables look more appetizing to them when they come in fun shapes and I’m ok with that as long as it means they’re eating their veggies. So, I suggest investing in a set of veggie cutters and also in sandwich cutters if you think that will encourage your child to eat more. Here are links to two sets that I like:
Lunch Box Packing Tip #3: Test the lunchbox containers.
Don’t you love it when a container has leak guard and protects against spills? Me too! But, that might mean your child can’t open it without assistance from an adult. While this is a good thing at home, when they’re at school you can’t expect their teachers to open 4 different sized containers per child so make sure your child can easily open their lunchbox containers by him/herself before school starts. I recommend getting a bento box that has an easy open latch, that way it can still be secure to reduce spills and your child only has to open one container to get all of their food. This tip applies most to preschool through elementary aged kids.
Lunch Box Packing Tip #4: Don’t be afraid to pack a hot lunch.
I love packing leftovers for my daughter’s lunch. First of all, it means that I cooked once and made two meals from it which is always a mom win. Having seen her eat it the night before, I know it’s going to be a lunchbox hit, and it’s a hearty nutritious meal that will keep her energized through the afternoon.
I used to shy away from hot meals because I couldn’t keep the food hot in the thermos containers for more than an hour, until I read an article from the amazing Keeley McGuire who said the key is pre-heating the thermos first. How do you do that? Simple. Pour boiling water into the thermos and close it tightly for 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, heat up the food so that it’s hotter than the temperature you would eat it. Pour out the water in the thermos, replace it with the hot food, seal it and get ready to be impressed with how warm the food stays until lunch! This was a game changer for me.
Lunch Box Packing Tip #5: Mix It Up!
Who says lunch has to consist of cold cuts and sandwich bread every day? There are so many different ways to work the needed nutrition into a lunchbox. While sandwiches are good, you can mix it up with plant-based meals, leftovers from healthy dinners, muffins or pancakes, and more! Kids like variety so this will keep them interested too.
Lunch Box Packing Tip #6: Plan Ahead.
This is my most helpful tip to reduce stress in the mornings. Sometimes coming up with the idea and looking through the fridge and cabinets to see what you have takes the longest. It can derail the morning and start your day off on an unnecessary stressful note. Make a list of the lunches you want to pack for the week, or a meal plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner is even better. Then you’ll know you have all the ingredients you need after you go food shopping.
I hope my top 6 lunch box packing tips will help you rock your kids’ school lunches and help you feel like the awesome parent you are!