Of course, I probably did what other moms did at the beginning of the school year - I turned to Pinterest. Well, that worked for about 2 weeks then I needed a new plan. I loved the adorable themed lunches and elaborate cuisine-inspired ideas and on the surface I really, really wanted to be the mom that could pull that off. Truth be told, I wasn't. And that's ok. So I had to figure out what worked for me.
Now that we are winding down the year, I wanted to share some tips I learned along the way to make lunch prep a breeze:
- Mass prep: Every Sunday I prep meals for the week, this includes lunch. I focus mainly on side dishes and make sure I'm hitting a variety of food groups. This week included: cottage cheese; edamame; corn; apple sauce; "trail mix" of dried fruit, pretzels, and raw cashews. This makes meal assembly super easy and isn't confined to just meals at school.
- Wraps and sandwiches: Keep it simple with a variety of wraps and sandwiches. I aim to do 2-3 different "main dishes" a week. This means MWF are the same and T, TH are the same.
- Always offer a fruit and vegetable: Too many times I see parent just throw in the sandwich and chips because "that's what my kid will eat." Of course, most kids will choose chips of vegetables but it is important for the parent to provide healthy options, even if the child does not choose to eat it. I promise your child will not starve themselves and you may be pleasantly surprised!
- Let them choose: I pack the majority of my son's lunch but allow him to choose one additional side from the mass prep I mentioned above.
- Add variety with smaller portion sizes: Kids don't need adult portions of food. When you pack smaller amounts of food you can actually pack a larger variety of foods.
- Water: Pack a reusable cup or small plastic water bottle to encourage your kiddo to drink his H2O.
- Lunch doesn't have to be lunch: Sometimes when I am short on lunch goods I'll make a batch of fruit-filled pancakes. These save well during the day and when you make a large batch you can freeze the leftovers for future use.