The first day outfits selected with care.
The summer reading has been completed.
And now the lunchbox battle begins.
As in … how to pack lunch for your kids every day.
And keep it interesting.
Without losing your mind.
Or your wallet.
First things first. You need to be prepared.
Lunchbox. Containers. Sandwich wraps.
All the tools of the trade.
I use reusable containers for the kids’ lunches for a variety of reasons. Mostly because I hate the thought of creating extra waste with disposable bags. And it’s a heck of a lot cheaper. I have a variety of food storage containers from Glad, because they’re easy to clean, are inexpensive, and are pretty leak-proof. Think of all the money you’re saving now that you’re not buying disposable sandwich bags. (*I do keep a few plastic sandwich bags on hand just for those field trip/activity days where they have to have a completely disposable lunch)
Now for the actual lunch. For Nick, I buy lunch a few times a week from his school, as its part of a school fundraiser, and I make lunch the other days. That way he has the best of both worlds. As Madeline starts a new school this week, I’ll be doing the same thing for her as well. As far as keeping the contents interesting, I think the key is to make sure you have a variety, so it’s not groan-inducing as the kids unzips their lunchbox in the cafeteria.
- Sandwiches are a given, but I change up the bread and what I put inside. Sometimes it’s a bagel sandwich, or a wrap, or a homemade sub, or peanut butter on English muffins with sliced bananas and a drizzle of honey. Even a sandwich on a waffle! The folks at Kraft have this fun checkerboard sandwich that I will definitely be doing.
- A finger-food lunch. I’ll fill a container with homemade hummus, and then include carrots, celery, and pretzels for dippers. Add a yogurt, a drink, and some snacks and we’re golden. Homemade chicken fingers and marinara sauce. Cold pieces of rotisserie chicken with ranch for dipping (these mini round Glad containers are perfect for this).
- Mini taco cups with all the fixins’ (ground beef, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, cheese).
- Tuna fish or egg salad, with crackers alongside for munching, instead of the usual sandwich.
- Salads. While Nick will eat a regular salad without hesitation, his younger sister isn’t a fan yet. Something like the Tomato, Salami, and Mozzarella Salad recipe included below or a tortellini salad is perfect.
- Use a thermos. Nick loves soup, and they both love pasta and mini meatballs. Put your thermos to work for some quick and easy warm meals.
- Get creative – breakfast for dinner! I’ll make the kids French Toast sticks, banana pancakes (with syrup on the side in a separate container), or an omelet to break up the routine a bit.
- Make your own Uncrustables. I confess, I totally love Uncrustables, especially the whole wheat bread one with peanut butter and honey. But a cheaper alternative is to buy this handy little item for $1.97 and make your own Uncrustables. Pretty cool, right? And this way you’re not just limited to the handful of Uncrustables that are for sale at your local grocery story – you can go crazy coming up with your own favorite combinations for what goes inside.
- Leftovers. If they liked dinner a lot, then I’ll try to include leftovers when it makes sense.