In the past snack preparedness (admittedly) had never really been my strong suit. Prior to this year, prepping for life on the go was just not something that came naturally to me. An aspect of motherhood that I struggled with in fact up until the course of last year when I suddnely had three kids in school, and 15 lunches a week to stock, pack and plan for. Before that it never occurred to me how much of my life would be devoted to the making of these meals. As well as those chaotic carpool situations that put you at constant risk of landing in desperate drive through solutions if you're not somewhat prepared for them beforehand. It took a couple weeks of me failing consistently in the harsh rush of our new school morning routine where I realized I needed to get serious about how I approached the daily feat of packing three school lunches five days a week, for the next decade.
In partnering with some of our favorite lunch brands behind the "Rock The Lunch Box" campaign, who's main goal is to inspire parents and kids to make better choices through food education and fun, I thought it might be a good time to share a little bit about how I keep my boy's school lunch boxes quick, simple, and nutritiously balanced. Any tips or advice anyone has reading here has in regards to how you make your own lunch assemblies less stressful, are welcome as always.
First off, I now prepare lunches and snacks the night before. After I get them in bed, which has sliced the frantic parts of our mornings substantially. And I swear if I could just get Leon to be ok with how his socks are aligned, it'd be nothing but smooth sailing that whole hour before I drop them off.
Arlo by far is still my pickiest eater which means I am limited as to how much I mix it up for him, so I stick with simple sandwiches like turkey and cheese or peanut butter and honey. Pictured below is a pretty common set up for him: Sliced turkey on an everything bagel, babybell cheese, salted almonds, fresh fruit, and Annie's Gluten Free Snicker Doodle Bunny Cookies
+ Honest Kid's Super Fruit Punch pouch. Which they all love.
The older boys usually take a mid day snack to school too and I typically stick to whatever I didn't include in their lunch that day. Things like raisins, white cheddar popcorn, pistachios, fruit cups, fruit roll ups, or frozen yogurt tubes.
Rex is much less picky and more willing to try new things so I do mix it up with him in his lunches, adding sometimes fancier sandwich pairings, or even dinner leftovers which the other two boys aren't always so fond of the next day. Pictured below: red organic grapes, Annie's cheddar squares, nuts, salted cucumbers, and a PB&J on Rudi's organic honey sweet whole wheat bread
Leon being gluten free, means his lunches take a little bit more care & attention. Not that it's hard to find tasty items these days that are GF - In fact we have more and more all the time that we are loving on the regular - but more because I want to keep things interesting and introduce new versions of the foods he likes and can eat so he doesn't feel like he's stuck to a few measly options. Which is easy to do sometimes when it comes to catering to certain food allergies & sensitives in children.
A few things I keep in regular rotation for him are salmi and GF crackers. Mini tacos, rice cakes, swiss cheese rolled in deli meat, diced chicken + bbq sauce, quesadillas, and what's picture below which is a baked corn tortilla wrapped with melted shredded cheese and Applegate's oven roasted chicken breast
with a side of salsa for dipping, a clementine, pistachios, Annie's cheddar bunnies, and Gluten free oatmeal cookie granola bar (which is a God Send considering how long we've been searching for a suitable GF free bar to incorporate in his snack options like his brother get and love so much
Like I've noted here before, the planet boxes are so great because of just how easy they are are to clean, how durable they prove, and how much they make you think about serving portions and food arrangements when filling them up. I've had ours for a few years now and they're still in really great shape. I always recommend them to anyone who's just entering new school years or gift them to kids who seem to take interest in the ones my boys use.
One other trick that's become a real life saver this year is the addition of a snack "grab bag" that I stock daily (even when they're not in school) before we leave the house so I don't have to worry about what to do when they're hungry at inconvenient hours, when we have places to be. Which is merely a netted market sack I keep hung from a hook at the very back of our van filled with four portions made of cheese sticks, Annie's organic GF Berry Patch Bunny Fruit Snacks
(which the baby is currently, and I mean frightfully
MAD for), granola bars, and an array of fresh fruit so they know what their options are, how many snacks they're each allowed during the time we're out before meals, and understand that when they're gone, they're gone. Otherwise, as you know, kids tend to want to snack just so long as there are things there for them to snack on. And that becomes a hard habit to break. Keeping a tight limit on what I take with us helps eliminate that option.
You can enter the Rock the Lunch Boxes month of lunches sweepstakes for a chance to win an entire month worth of lunch packing gear and supplies plus free product from Annie's, Applegate, Rudi's Organic Bakery, and Honest Kids Here
Or if contests don't interest you simply dropping by the website is worth the fun and creative tips there on hand for mixing up the monotony of school lunch packing. After all, we need all the inspiration we can gather when we stop and think about just how many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we'll be slicing for at least the next 10 years. Right?