It’s week 3 of school for us and I’m well into the school lunch packing groove over here.
Some mornings go like this:
Me: What would you like with your lunch?
Kid: Um, can I please haaaaaaavvvvveeeee……
The ‘have’ is drawn out while they decide what their answer is. It’s fun at 6:30am! For the most part though, I’ve figured out a pretty fool-proof system to take the sting out of packing school lunches on what seems to be an endless rotation. Here are my tips and tricks.
Have the Right Tools
This makes all the difference so you’re not hunting for what you need every day. Of course the kids need an insulated lunch bag, a water bottle, and some small containers for sides. (My lunch menu formula is a main dish and 1-2 ‘sides.’) Have a few slim ice packs on hand, too.
The lifesaver every day for us is a thermos. This allows me to pack virtually anything for lunch, including leftovers. So if the kids love what you’re making for dinner one nice, make a little extra and bam, there’s lunch the next day.
Sunday morning during breakfast is my time to do this. Not only do we plan our dinners for the week, but this is when each of my kids gets out their school lunch menu and chooses when they’re buying and when they’re packing. Then we decided what they’re going to want for lunch and I add those items to my grocery list.
When you’ve got a busy family, kids running to sports every night, etc., nothing will derail your week like not knowing what’s for dinner. And your mornings will be a mess too, if no one knows what to pack for lunch. Take the time to do this step each week before Monday morning.
Batch It On Sunday
On Sunday I make a batch of something the kids can take to school for lunch. That could be a pasta salad, a pot of vegetable soup, or chili. (This is where the thermos comes in!) It’s a bonus that I can use this food for my lunch too.
That takes care of my ‘main dish’ for lunch. Now for the sides…
Simple Sides with DOLE Mixations
Once you’ve got the main dish you have to supplement with a side or two. I always try to throw in healthy options like fresh fruit and veggies. My kids’ favorite right now are DOLE Mixations. These are a brand new DOLE product that just hit stores in August.
DOLE Mixations combine two of kids’ favorites: smooth fruit sauces with juicy chunks of fruit. They come in four delicious flavors:
- Apple Raspberry
- Apple Strawberry
- Pineapple Peach Apple
- Pineapple Mango
I had the chance to try all of these flavors when I met DOLE at the Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC a few months back. They’re all good and the Pineapple Mango is my FAVORITE! So refreshing and delicious.
DOLE sent my family a couple of boxes of these two varieties, Apple Strawberry and Pineapple Mango. I’ve been throwing these in with the kids’ school lunches and it’s a total win. They love them, and I love being able to give them something that’s super quick for me and also a healthy choice.
DOLE Mixations are non-GMO, have no high fructose corn syrup, and artificial flavors, and are naturally gluten free.
The really fun thing about DOLE Mixations is that the lids give you the perfect place to write a little note to the kids!
Sometimes I just draw faces and sometimes I write little messages. They think this is such a fun treat to open up each day and I love surprising them!
You can learn more about DOLE Mixations and how to #MixInImagination on their website, and by following along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Some great foodie ideas on their Pinterest page, too!
Put the Kids in Charge
I have no idea what took me so long to start doing this. Believe it or not, the kids are capable of packing a lot of their own lunches and snacks. What a revelation! I tell them that I’ll take care of the main dish and they are in charge of the sides. Lunch is packed in no time!
So what are your best tips for taking the UGH out of packing school lunches?
The generous folks at DOLE are offering my readers a delicious giveaway! One of you will win an assortment of DOLE Mixations! This giveaway is open to US residents only, ages 18+, and will end at 11:59pm ET on September 24, 2016.
One winner per household, email address, or home address. If you have won this prize on another blog you are ineligible to win again. Winner must have a U.S.-based address to receive the prize.