By Lauren Torlone Mahoney
A new school year is full of promise: New teachers, new things to learn, new friends. But it also means the return of the school-lunch-packing slog for parents.
Now for the good news: With a few simple steps, you can eliminate lunchbox stress, for real.
First, you must commit. Repeat after us: Lunch assembly will not take place in the morning. This is your solemn vow. Make lunch prep part of your evening routine and stick to it. Now, for the “how.”
STEP 1: DOUBLE UP
Keep double the number of lunchboxes or kid-friendly lunch containers per child in your house. If you have one child, that’s two lunch boxes, two children equals four lunch boxes, and so on. Why? Because options. Option one: You pack two lunches at a time per child, so you get a break every other night. Option two: You assemble lunch every night, but you don’t have to wait for that day’s lunch box to dry first. So you can stick to your no-packing-in-the morning vow (you promised!).
STEP 2: STOCK STANDBY SANDWICHES
Keep individually wrapped sandwiches in the freezer. Whether it’s sunflower butter and honey on whole wheat or cream cheese and jelly on mini gluten-free bagels, make several, wrap each in plastic wrap, toss them in a freezer bag and freeze. While the freezer’s open, toss in a week’s worth of low-sugar yogurt tubes that will thaw each day by noon (we love Siggi’s, which only have 5g sugar). Remove one of each while packing lunches at night and then pat yourself on the back. The sandwich and yogurt tube will hold up just fine in refrigerated lunchboxes overnight and be ready for your child to enjoy at lunchtime.
STEP 3: STREAMLINE SNACKS
Prepare a quick snack to use all week. Cut up fruit and store it in individual containers, or roast a tray of crispy chickpeas that even the world’s most discerning kid will eat. Choose a different snack to prep for each week to avoid fatigue. Your kid gets a filling, healthy snack, and you avoid the daily decision and prep hassles. Win-win.
Say “so long” to school lunch woes, and raise a no-sugar-added, organic juice box to an organized year. You’ve got this.