Lunchbox Hacks For Busy Mornings
Ah, lunchboxes. Isn’t it funny how we start the year with such good intentions. Only to be beaten down slowly by every un-eaten sandwich and lost lunchbox. How in term 1 our shiny bento-filled panda themed lunches become a paper bag with a whole apple and a packet of chips by term 4. When I only had one at school (and one at preschool) I found I could keep on top of lunchboxes. Staggering the days with a few lunch orders here and there and top-up-shops when needed. Life was good.
But now, with two at school (and one at preschool) I find myself looking at the ominous task of packing;
3 x full lunchboxes
3 x recess
2 x crunch and sip
And to also be prepared for the hangry afternoon tea onslaught and of course breakfast and dinner, too. It’s a lot of food and a lot of organisation. My mornings are stressful, there’s yelling. But it got me thinking, SUERLY there’s got to be another way?!
So I managed to find a system that worked. It saves me money, time and I find myself not being nearly as frazzled each morning. And that brings me to my first point, I’m not a packing lunches in the morning anymore – but wait don’t close the page just yet (who even am I?). I still pack some components in the morning and this is all very achievable.
So here’s the plan. It’s simple, sustainable and it works. Please let me know if you try it and how it works for you. You may even be able to improve on it!
1. Grocery shop
Do this on a Sunday arvo or have it delivered then – this means you aren’t failing from the get-go when the delivery rocks up 30 minutes after the bus on a Monday morning. Choose seasonal produce that is on sale and SAVE! Or if it suits you better, Monday could be lunch order day and you can do your shop then.
I am all for a home-delivered grocery shop. However, I find that I can get the best, most affordable fruit and veg in-store, from the daily specials. So if you need to be frugal – this is a good tip.
2. Veggie dump box
Wash, peel and chop your veggies. Place them in a plastic container with around 1cm of water in it. Cover with paper towel then the lid and store in the fridge. These veggies last me 3-4 days like this.
Our favourites are:
- Snow peas
3. Fruit dump box
Wash and peel/chop or prep your fruit. Place in a plastic container, cover with a paper towel and then the lid. Store in the fridge. Some fruits like apples and stone fruit are best in the fruit bowl to be added separately.
Our favourites are:
Bake a minimum of twice a week to keep the freezer stocked with a variety of goodies.
Our favourites are:
- Muffins (mini)
- Slice (SO many good slices in both of our books)
- Tiny teddies
- Scrolls (a super simple 2 ingredient one in Raising a healthy eater)
- Bliss balls
- Anzac biscuits
5. Prepare the ‘main’ course
2-4 will be your side lunchbox components. For the main I usually do a rotation of these options – a sandwich or roll either deconstructed or whole (rotating the fillings), cheese and crackers, wraps, celery boats OR leftovers. Do not underestimate the value of leftovers, with the right ice-pack this is an absolute godsend. This component I usually add fresh in the morning as no one likes a soggy sandwich.
- Ham and cheese
- Salami and cheese
- Cucumber and butter
- Sausage rolls
- Chicken and halloumi balls
- BBQ chicken
- Vegetable burgers
- Risotto balls
- Pastry squares
- Veggie tartlets
- Pasta (amazing lunchbox pasta salad in Raising a healthy eater)
Favorite freeze ahead:
- Scrolls (as mentioned we love the 2-ingredient scroll recipe in Raising a healthy eater)
- Mini pizza
- Zucchini slice
- Zucchini and apple bread (in Boosting your basics)
These are your popcorns, crackers and other pantry staples that I use to fill around the more nutritious foods. I like to buy these from bulk food stores, or in bigger packets to distribute into containers, rather than sending packets of snacks in plastic and wrappers. The nude food movement is good! I also absolutely adore the 4 my earth sandwich pouches and wraps that makes life so much easier and bags so much lighter!
Favourite sometimes snacks
- Multigrain chips
- Yogurt or custards
- Mini chocolate bar
- Rice crackers
- Dried cereal
- Dried fruit
- Fruit cups
7. Incorporate a lunch order (optional)
I find by day 5 my fruit and veggie supplies are depleted. At this point you can do a top-up-shop to get you through the weekend or you can incorporate a lunch order. For me I do my lunch order on a Friday, but you might prefer a Monday and use that day to get yourself organised. Most schools have some nice nutritious options and it’s a good time for kids to try something new. Enjoying food they have chosen is a positive meal experience and we are all for that.
8. Recipes. Recipes. Recipes!
You need some rock solid recipes to get you through the lunchbox phase of your life. You want tried and tested recipes that can be adapted to be allergy friendly, transport well and are mostly freezable. And we got you! Both our books are full of snacks, nourishing sweet foods and healthy lunchbox ideas that are actually achievable and that the kids will eat.
Raising a healthy happy eater from baby to school age
Boosting your basics making the most of every family mealtime
We also have a very good range of eBooks if digital is more your thang.
For the lunchboxes pictured above we love these Yumboxes.
I hope this plan helps you. Please let us know how you go and what helps you the most.
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