Making school lunches is honestly a pain in the you-know-what. After they get home and homework is done, then it’s time to make dinner. Then you clean up from dinner, and have to make lunches. Those lunches have to be healthy, filling and yummy enough for the pickiest of eaters. Bleh.
About two months into this school year, I decided that my kids would buy their lunches from the cafeteria. Not because the lunches are healthier, cheaper and fun….no. None of those things were a factor. Honestly, I was tired. It was one less thing for me to worry about during the week. My kids loved it because it was new, exciting and they had a few choices of what to eat midday.
But this is March. One of my kids has literally been crying every morning that I don’t pack their lunches. That picky child says that the cafeteria lunches just aren’t that good. That same child also states that they waste time getting a lunch in line when they could just sit down to eat. Sigh. I get it kid…I do.
Like I said, the kids eating cafeteria lunches was mostly because I was tired. If your kids get school lunches because you are too tired or lazy to make them yourself guess what? That’s okay! I’m all about being decent, not perfect. If my kid honestly goes to a therapist when they are grown to complain about how they had to get a cafeteria lunch…I consider my parenting a success.
That said…I am starting to make their lunches at home again. I think that my kids just feel like it’s a little hug from Mom in the middle of their day, and that’s okay. The lunches I pack are probably healthier than what they’d get from school. Not to mention it does actually save me a bit of money. I’m still tired though.
So I’ve taught myself a few tips and tricks that I’ll share with you (of course).
Prep School Lunches
When you go grocery shopping, save yourself a bit of time and buy a big bag of baby carrots. Also grab some celery, berries, apples and broccoli florets. The heads of broccoli might be cheaper. You’re also paying by weight for that giant stalk that no one eats, and I’m all about efficiency. When you get home, put the carrots and broccoli into zip lock baggies, plastic containers, or whatever else you like to use. Make sure to pack them the night before though so your mornings don’t get too frenzied. Prep the fruit and veggies by washing or chopping it and you’ll be able to toss them into lunch bags all week…quickly.
Get Lunch Boxes That Work
We started the school year with the cute character lunch boxes that kids love. In this Moms opinion…I hate those lunch boxes and want to light them on fire. Food gets spilled into them and they are a pain to clean! There’s no clean-cut way to put the food into those bags or boxes either, so you kind of Tetris stuff into it and hope nothing gets smashed too badly.
This past weekend I went to target and bought this Bento Box for each of the kids. I don’t love the price but it’s not that much more expensive than those lunch boxes I hate. Plus, this entire thing can go into the freezer, microwave and the dishwasher. I fill up the compartments with healthy food. In the container with the lid I put mustard, ranch or whatever sounds good for dipping. You could also use it for nuts or other small items. My kids have been loving it and it’s been super quick and easy to clean.
Don’t Bother With Water bottles
I love water bottles, and I’m not sure why. They are cute and convenient…but they get lost and are a pain to wash. I always have to dig around for the matching lid, and just like Tupperware some how the lids end up MIA. Honestly, when it comes to school lunches I quit water bottles. Why pay $5 for a bottle that the kids are going to lose? Now I head to the dollar store and buy bottles of sugar-free vitamin water, or juice boxes. I know they aren’t as environmentally friendly, but my family recycles. I prefer the low sugar Gatorade (and so the kids) because with the bigger bottles they can drink it most of the day. If they lose it then oh well, no worries. Plus I don’t have to wash anything. Everyone wins.
Use Pinterest With Caution
Okay, I’m not a pinterest Mom. Nothing I ever make my family to eat is pinterest worthy, and I’ve come to realize that it’s okay. I’m decent, remember? Pinterest isn’t decent…it’s amazing. I still use pinterest a lot, and here’s why. I’m creative in some aspects, but things like school lunches? Not even a little bit. So it’s a great place to get ideas and get inspiration from Moms who are way more creative than I am. That said, I’m not trying to replicate what those Moms do. Not even a little, because…well honestly I’m seriously lazy. Or exhausted…or whatever. It doesn’t even matter. I don’t feel like it, and that’s fine.
Screw It: School Lunches Are Fine
I’ve already told both of my kids that there will be days when I do not make their lunches. Maybe it’ll be time related. Or I won’t have the supplies. Who cares…whatever the reason is, there will be days when I can’t make it happen. On those days, the cafeteria is open and ready to have a hot and healthy lunch ready for my kids. I don’t have a problem with the cafeteria, and the women who work in the kitchen are really great. My kids just like the lunches from home right now and it’s something small that I feel I can do for them. I won’t be killing myself to do it though…and it’s perfectly decent to send those picky kids to the hot lunch line.