Five tips for making school lunches easier this year
Dread the return of school lunches? Read on for our five tips for making school lunches easier this year.
Back-to-school time brings mixed feelings – kids will groan about returning to the structure of school but are excited to see their friends. Parents are also excited for different reasons – after almost two months of having the kids at home it can be a welcome relief to send them off to school again, although this brings back the routine (read: crazy scramble) of getting them to and from school, sports and piano lessons on time, and with the right gear for each activity.
Throw in the need to provide a nutritious school lunch and it can get overwhelming. You can make things easier on yourself if you stock your fridge and pantry well with things your children like to eat and that can be quickly popped into the lunchbox. Here are our tips:
1. Do a ‘back-to-school shop’
Take the kids and do a big ‘back to school’ shop at Hill Street. Have a talk beforehand about the types of things that should be in their lunchboxes every day and get them to write a shopping list of their favourite things under headings like fruit, snacks, treats, drinks, sandwich fillings, or sandwich alternatives. If you need inspiration have a look at these guides:
- Ten lunch box ideas that aren’t sandwiches
- School lunch recipes to fuel their learning
- How to include more vegetables in school lunches
- Back-to-school bites – ideas to help you fill their lunchbox
- Three fab sandwich fillings for tasty school lunches
2. Organise your fridge and pantry
When you get home from your shop, have the kids help you organise a pantry tub which will contain the snacks and treats, a fridge tub which will contain the fruit and another container for the sandwich fillings or sandwich alternatives. Label all these as “School lunches” so that someone doesn’t raid the fridge or pantry and eat it all before school even starts.
3. Encourage the kids to be involved
If your children are old enough to help or indeed make their own lunches (the holy grail!), encourage them. It will help if you give them a bit of a guide as to what to put in – for example, one item from each category listed above or, if it’s a day they have an activity after school, perhaps two snacks and two pieces of fruit – otherwise they may skip off to school with a lunchbox full of treats!
4. Prep in the morning or night before?
There are two camps when it comes to packing lunchboxes – those who do it the night before, and those who do it in the morning. The night before gives you a free runway for the morning but then there is the argument of soggy sandwiches and delayed bedtime or relaxation time if you are putting together lunchboxes late at night. Try it both ways and see what works for your family. Or have a look at this idea to make a week’s worth of school lunches in one hour, complete with a shopping list!
5. Easy access
Organise the lunch boxes and drink bottles somewhere easily accessible by the children, make sure all containers have lids and drink bottles are clean and in working order. Now is the time to do a deep clean of these. See our guide here for how to properly clean a drink bottle.
Hopefully these tips will help you embrace the whole school lunchbox process rather than dread it.