Monday, August 22, 2016
One thing I did today, that I've wanted to do every year, is make school lunch bins. The kind where I prepackaged produce, sorted out sweet and salty snacks, and got ready for lunches ahead of time. Now that I'm sending four lunches to school each day I decided I needed to be better prepared. My kids love to take leftovers for lunch and they are pretty good about eating different sandwiches too so I'm usually set on the main course/protein part of the meal but my kids are also supposed to have two snacks for morning and afternoon snack time which can sometimes leave me scrambling to fill in the gaps of their lunch. So I finally decided it was time to prep! I decided to make one fruit/veggie bin, a dairy bin, a savory snack bin, and a sweet treat bin. It didn't take very long and I'm not going to lie, it was pretty fun too! (Which tells me that I probably need to get out more!) So if you've ever thought about giving it a try here are some tips/ideas that I had while doing it.
First, here are some benefits of sorting out lunch items ahead of time:
1) It saves money! The pre-portioned snacks are so much more expensive than buying in bulk but they are so much more convenient. I usually buy the small applesauce packs and go-gurts for lunches and buy a big jar of applesauce or container of yogurt for home. By putting them in lunch bins it makes the snacks last longer because my kids know what is off limits after school! To save even more money you can pre-portion your own snacks. Bag your own pretzels, gold fish, etc. or buy a big thing of yogurt and put it in little containers yourself.
2) It's easier to keep the pantry and fridge stocked! No more thinking the pantry is full when in fact half the boxes are secretly empty. This makes it so much easier to see what I have and what I'm running low on. It also helps keep things rotated. And helps me make sure that the produce all gets used up in time.
3) It helps give the kids a chance to pack there own lunches. I can just tell the kids to pick one thing out of each bin and then I know they have one fruit or veggie, one dairy, one carb and one sweet treat. Plus when my kids feel like they are picking their own lunch there is a lot better chance they are actually going to eat it when they get to school!
4) It saves time. Instead of having to open a ton of packaging, washing produce, etc every morning it's already done ahead of time when you aren't frantically trying to catch a bus.
5) It just looks cool! Seriously, it makes the pantry look so much nicer. I feel happy every time I look in there. Instead of 100 boxes crammed on top of each other and ripped open by kids I just have a few bins with lids on. It makes me feel like one of those organized people I hear about on pinterest :)
Next, I want to share some of the things my kids like to put in their lunches:
mini sweet peppers
cut up melon
raisins (yogurt covered)
dried apple rings (I make these in the dehydrator with a little cinnamon)
cucumber slices (sometimes I use tiny cookie cutters to make these into stars or hearts)
Dip ideas (to go with produce):
fruit dip (I just do little cups of cool-whip mixed with strawberry yogurt)
Dairy and Protein ideas:
baby bell cheese
cheese cut into fun shapes
pepperoni wrapped around cheese
ham wrapped around cheese
sargento balanced breaks (cheese, almonds and craisin packs)
peanut butter crackers
mini rice cakes (my kids love the rasberry yogurt or cheddar kind)
breakfast bars (my kids love the trader joes kind)
jello w/fruit cups
fruit cocktail cups
teddy grahams or graham stix
dole peaches and cream cups
Lastly, I'm always looking for new ideas of what to put in my kids lunches so let me know what you like to pack in lunches in the comments! It's always fun to think of new things or learn about new products that are out there :) Happy lunch making!