If you have a couple of kids at school or kinder then you already know that the routine of packing lunches each day is relentless. You can stream line your packing by creating a routine, planning ahead and keeping a supply of lunch box accessories on hand.
First of all I’d suggest working out which time of the day is best suited to making lunch boxes in your household. If you’re an early bird that likes to get up while the kids are still sleeping, perhaps making lunches first thing might work for you. If your mornings tend towards chaotic, then try making them the night before. So long as you’re using a quality airtight lunch box (like our stainless steel bento box), your lunch boxes will still be fresh the next day.
For me I’ve found the after school time/early evening to work best. As soon as my kids come home from school I empty, wash and dry their lunch boxes. Whilst I am finishing off dinner I’m packing the lunch boxes at the same time. This means I’m only having to mess up the kitchen once. It also means that once the kids have gone to bed I don’t find myself returning to the kitchen yet again, and can clock off for the night.
If you’re someone who likes to work to a list, then having a plan for your lunch boxes each week is likely to be helpful. Your list may just feature the “main item” and perhaps snacks you plan to bake for the week. This will also be helpful when it comes to writing your weekly shopping list.
Having your child’s preferred fruits and vegetables on hand is a no brainer when it comes to speedy packing. Non perishable items like tinned lentils and legumes, roasted nori sheets and dried fruit can be helpful for those days when you’re running low on fresh produce.
You can use my packing formula: 2 snacks - aim for 1 “sweet snack” and 1 “savoury” snack, (one of these snacks may be designated for an after school activity), add some chopped up veggies (possibly with a dip if your child likes that), consider a small surprise, pack your main lunch item and include some fruit.
What to Pack……
As children get around 30% of their daily nutrition at school, aiming to include all 5 food groups should be a priority. I keep a bit of a mental check list whilst I’m packing and make sure I’ve got a tick against each one.
Breads & Cereals - preferably wholegrain, bread, baked goods, rice or cous cous based salads
Vegetables - cut up vegetable sticks +/- dip, sandwich fillings, add to smoothies or baked goods. If you don’t have fresh vegetables on hand consider dried or tinned chickpeas or roasted nori sheets (seaweed).
Fruit - dried fruit, bliss balls, fresh fruit, add to a smoothie in one of our smoothie bottles
Dairy products (or calcium fortified alternatives such as soy milk) - these are also sources of protein. Cheese, yoghurt, milk.
Quality protein - meat, seeds (you may like to include these in your baked goods), lentils/legumes and dairy products
Do you have a child that’s still learning to like Vegetables?
Highly coloured and with a slightly bitter taste, vegetables can be some of the hardest foods for fussy eaters to learn to like. Did you know that fruit contains very similar nutrients to vegetables? Whilst your child is learning to eat more vegetables consider offering more fruit to help get their nutrients in.
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