School lunch and school supplies

School Is Upon Us – Ready or Not

The back to school (and back to lunches) whirlwind reminds me of a roller coaster. With a roller coaster, there’s some dread and some excitement. Some fear and some feelings of fearlessness. And depending on your personality, you lean more one way – dread or excitement. That’s how it is with back to school as well. After all, the whole sleeping late, going swimming, eating popsicles, watching fireflies thing is something no one wants to let go of. But new classes, new teachers, seeing old friends and making new ones is pretty exciting too. Your children probably lean a little more one way or the other – dread or excitement. 

Packing Lunches in the Frenzy

And then there are the school lunches. One hundred and eighty days of them (times the number of people in your home that you are packing for.) For many moms the same roller coaster feeling holds true for lunches – dread and…..well, actually just dread. Last minute frenzy. “Should have stopped at the grocery store” blues. Brain freeze on ideas. You know the early morning vibes. And then there’s Pinterest being all perfect and making you feel guilty for not doing a theme based lunch every day. Who are those women anyway?

You Can Do It

But can’t we add a smidge of excitement to the lunch packing routine? Think roller coaster. Yeah, it’ll be tough but it’s a chance to be clever. Pat yourself on the back here. Honestly, in all of the hurry scurry don’t we secretly want to be great influencers on our kids’ health? Plus we’re going to miss them (be honest here.) And you can’t get away from it: they truly have to eat. Unlike succulents. So why not meet the challenge.

Our own stuffed cherry peppers
Spice up lunches with our Stuffed Cherry Peppers

 

The Method for List Lovers

I’ve spend literally decades planning meals – surely there’s an award for that. My well tested method is one that might appeal to some of you list-lovers that delight in order. You know  us – the crazy ones who like charts and schedules, storage cubes and organizers. We used to be weird until Marie Komo legitimized us, bless her heart. 

Anyway as far as lunches were concerned, I kept 3×5 cards (yep, they still exist) with one lunch written on the front and supplies needed for it on the back. For over a decade I had my lunches and suppers on these cards. (Don’t worry I changed them up, added new ones, got rid of tiresome ones.) Every shopping day, I chose the cards I would be using for the coming week, and took them along to the grocery store for supplies. It made it so easy at meal time or packing lunches, because you could set the card on the counter and your “helpers” could easily pitch in. Very old school I know. 

Today you could keep it on an app and air drop it to your children or husband, but then again I love a phone-free morning. Plus it actually makes it nice for the kids if you hand them the week’s cards and let them choose one lunch for each school day. This article called 20 School Lunches You Can Make in Five Minutes or Less will give you ideas to get started. Did you read the “five minutes or less” part? Even you spontaneous, happy-go-lucky non-planners will like that!

Cranberry Chicken Salad sandwich
Out with old and in with the new – Cranberry Chicken Salad Sandwiches for school lunches

Changing for the Better

Speaking of the olden days, I knew kids who had the same lunch every day: a ham sandwich, a bag of chips, an apple and a cookie. Our family shied away from that routine even all those years ago. I’d like to think we all are growing wiser. Bento boxes, sandwich boxes, and tiny condiment boxes have replaced baggies in our lunches. We love our collapsible bento boxes. Making a small salad, then putting creative additions in the other compartments is fun for our grown daughter with Down’s Syndrome. It makes her actually enjoy making healthy choices. And the little “spork” utensil is a winner for her.

Times have changed for the better. Five days of nitrates is unheard of in many homes. Chips have been replaced by nuts, seeds, and fresh vegetables of every sort. Salads appear as often as sandwiches. Cookies have been replaced by Greek yogurt or a myriad of fresh or dried fruit. Cookies are now saved for special occasions, not daily lunch additions.

Healthy school lunch
Healthy is beautiful when combining grains, veggies, and protein

New Recipes to Spark Excitement

When it comes to school lunches, not only do the kids get tired of the same old same old, but so do we parents. Going for sandwiches? Okay but try our Cranberry Chicken Salad or Tuna Avocado Egg Salad. And speaking of salad, this no mayo Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad is a great new addition, as is our Bean and Bacon Salad. Both are new takes on old comfort foods.

Our Tuna Avocado Salad will have them asking for it again the next week
Cauliflower and Broccoli lunch salad
Nature’s Yoke Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad has no mayo!

More School Lunch Ideas?

Muffins often give the same sweet sensation as cookies or candy, but can be packed with fruits, veggies or proteins. Our website has Apple muffins, Blueberry muffins, muffins with carrots and muffins with raisins. Even savory onion muffins. And what about replacing sandwiches with frittatas? Like our Mini Spinach Frittatas. They’re delicious cold, and they’re gluten free.

Bran muffins - perfect for lunch boxes
Our Raisin Bran Muffins will “spark joy” for sure
Mini Spinach Frittatas – the perfect size for a lunch box

See? It’s not going to be as hard as you thought. And after all, the fireflies will return next summer. Until then….happy school days!