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School lunches made easier

It’s every school parents’ morning agony… what will the kids have for lunch today?

If your mornings are rushed you’re more likely to pack the kids off to school with unhealthy options or not enough food. The key is preparation – you can save yourself the mad rush every morning by putting aside some time on a Sunday for school lunch prep.

Here are some simple lunchbox hacks. Use a combination of what works for your family.

Simple lunchbox tips

1. Make 5 sandwiches on a Sunday. Freeze. Use the freshest bread you can get and wrap well in plastic wrap to avoid freezer burn. Bread and many sandwich fillings freeze just fine and taste great once thawed by lunchtime. Try these:
– All nut butters freeze really well
– Canned tuna (drained well) and mayonnaise
– Canned salmon and cream cheese
– Roast pork, chicken, lamb or beef – add a thick chutney or relish in between slices of meat.
– Grated cheese (works better than slices) and pickles
– Butter and vegemite
– Jam – on it’s own or combined with nut butter

2. Bake snacks (or buy if you’re not the baking type) such as muffins, pikelets, or slices. Freeze in individual portions, then rotate throughout the week so the kids aren’t eating the same muffin day after day.

Blueberry muffins
Blueberry muffins

3. Make up pick and mix snack boxes. Set up a box of portioned snacks on the counter (crackers, popcorn, dried fruit and nuts, muesli bars etc.) and a perishables box in the fridge (yoghurt, cut fruit and veg, cheese etc.).

Depending on how old your kids are, let them choose pieces from each box and pack their own lunch. You can add a chart to the fridge with the rules about portions (eg. two portions from the fridge, one from the counter).

It will give your kids a sense of control and help in developing a healthy relationship with their food choices. You’ll also get fewer complaints about what’s in the lunchbox as they packed it.

4. If you don’t like the idea of pick and mix, set up 5 trays in the fridge on Sunday and add snacks for each day. In the morning, grab a tray, add a sandwich and go.

Delicious organic dried cherries

5. Portion out snacks. Buy large packets of dried fruit and nuts and portion out. This works out much cheaper than pre-packaged snacks and you control the portion size. Check out the excellent products at Bulk Whole Foods.

Buy big tubs of yoghurt (or make it yourself) and portion into small containers. Add fruit or oats to bulk up.

Pop a large batch of popcorn – home made popcorn is super easy and super cheap and you can add nothing or whatever flavours your kids prefer.

Pack snacks into small zip lock bags or containers and add to the snack box. Kids can help with this and you can even turn it into a fun activity with measuring spoons and cups to portion everything out.

Popcorn
Popcorn makes a cheap and cheerful snack

6. Food pouches are not just for baby food. Buy reusable pouches and fill with yoghurt, smoothies, custard or fruit purees. They freeze brilliantly and act as an icepack in the lunchbox as they thaw.

7. Hard-boil eggs in advance. They keep fine in the fridge for a couple of days. Eggs are excellent for adding protein to the lunchbox.

8. Cut up fruit salad and portion into containers. Add a sprinkle of lime juice to keep the fruit from turning brown. They’ll keep for Monday and Tuesday lunches if made on Sunday night.

The amazing Planetbox lunchbox – click image to view range

9. Lunch boxes with divided compartments let you pre pack everything the night before, are easy for kids to use, as well as minimising packaging waste. We love the amazing collection of lunchboxes from Biome Eco Stores.

10. Cut up portions of veges such as carrots, celery and capsicum and pack into individual portions.

Capsicum
Chopped veges such as capsicum keep well in the fridge

11. If you have kids at home as well as at school, pack them a lunchbox too. It’s easier to pack two lunches at once with less washing up and hassle at lunchtime. The kids at home can pretend to be at big school for lunch.

12. Leftovers are excellent for lunch but make sure you put them aside before they get gobbled up at dinner. Poach extra chicken, bake extra veges or make extra pasta and rice. It requires little additional effort.

13. Lastly, meal plan school lunches as you would other meals and get your kids involved. There’s no point in planning out elaborate meals your kids won’t eat. Get them involved in meal planning, shopping and preparation and you’ll have fewer complaints, full bellies and less waste.

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Do you have any school lunch hacks you’d like to share? Leave us a comment below.

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3 Comments

  1. November 5, 2015 at 11:44 AM

    You can make and freeze all sorts of things, but I’ve never thought of freezing sandwiches! Makes sense, though. Burritos, pancakes, etc. all work well in the freezer, too. I like to keep certain things on hand for those mornings I don’t have time to think, like baby carrots and hummus, slices of cheese, applesauce, etc. Probably my key go-to lunch when I don’t have time to think, though, is mini wontons (they boil from frozen in 2-3 minutes–usually I buy the chicken wontons), sliced cucumber, and orange wedges.

    • November 5, 2015 at 12:26 PM

      Wontons are a great idea. I’ll be trying that one 🙂 Thank you!

  2. […] lunches, then it’s just a matter of grab and go in the morning. Have a look at these amazing school lunch hacks for great tips on making school lunches […]