If you’ve been struggling to get a lunch together, or have run out of ideas on what to make for your children, we’ve got some solutions for you! There are many different tips and tricks that will help you and your children have ready-to-go lunches they can grab before leaving in the morning. However, lunches aren’t easy unless you take the time to plan, prepare and organize lunches ahead of time. It’s as simple as pre-cutting vegetables or throwing items in the freezer. Take a look at the suggestions below to help you plan an easy-to-make lunch that your children will be excited to eat:
Freeze ahead of time
Never underestimate the power of your freezer. So many food items and beverages can be made up to a month ahead of time, and pulled out whenever you need it. To save even more time, make sure you freeze items in individual-sized portions, so you don’t have to worry about defrosting items in advance.
For example, juice boxes should be stored in your freezer, not your drawer or cupboard. This way, the juice will stay cold until lunch time, and it will double as an ice pack to keep the rest of the lunch from spoiling or getting warm. Dishes like pasta, rice, and even peanut butter and jam sandwiches can be made up weeks in advance and stored in single portions. Keep these in plastic bags or containers, and pull them out the night before to make sure they’re not frozen for lunch the next day.
Set up a lunch station
Instead of making all of the lunches on your own, get your children involved in the process by setting up a lunch station. At the start of each week, cut up a variety of vegetables, fruits, cheese, and meat. Place these items into reusable containers or bags in individual sized portions, and have your children pick out what they want for lunch the next day. You can even purchase individual dipping sauces like hummus or guacamole, or make your own.
To make sure your children get the food they need, make up a list or chart of what they are supposed to have in their lunch. For example, identify that they need two different fruits, one vegetable option, a starch and protein option, a beverage, and a snack or dessert. This way, you can ensure your children make a balanced lunch.
Use the right tools
Another way that you can make lunch easy and organized is to use pre-set containers to store food. This will make space for fruit, vegetables, sandwiches and snacks, and ensure that your children get all of the different food groups for a healthy lunch. They also make lunches look fun and visually interesting.
For hot food, use a thermos instead of plastic containers. This will save your children time at school by not having to wait in line to use a microwave. Reusable lunch bags also work well, as they are always ready to go. Utensils and non-perishable snacks can be put into the reusable lunch bag the night before so only the items in the fridge have to be put into the bag the morning of.
Timing is everything
Don’t leave making lunches to the last minute. Even those these suggestions will make lunch easy, it will still make the process less stressful if you make lunches the night before. Make this a part of your evening routine by putting lunches together either right after your children come home for school, or right after dinner.
You will also need to make sure that snacks, vegetables, fruit and other food items are cut and ready to go. Set aside time each week, like on Sunday night, and prepare all the items your children will need to make lunch. Food like hard-boiled eggs can also be made ahead of time and used throughout the week on their own, in a sandwich, or in a salad.