Monday, August 11, 2014

Real Back To School Lunch Packing Survival Tips


WooHoo!!  It's back to school baby!!  It's been a great summer - I love my boys - but, it's time!  We all need our space and their brains need a boost.  I'm excited and so are they.  We are enjoying all of the fun back to school shopping, chatting with friends about shared classes, new supplies.....and then, the cold chill goes up my spine.....It's time to pack the lunches.  Noooooo!!!!!  I despise packing school lunches.  It's just so...everyday!  And, as much as I hate packing lunches - I care enough about my chidren's health to not let them buy cafeteria food everyday.  Think I'm knocking cafeteria food??  Oh no, no....I know the government has been working super hard to make school lunches healthier...oh excuse me - let me clear my throat ;)  In all honesty - I definitely question my boys' food choices when left to their own devices.  I'm 100% they will not pick salads and fruit platters on a daily basis.  So, I vow to make this year easier - I make this vow every year - but now I am putting it in writing. That will make it stick, right???  And, before you go all Pinterest happy on me...you know all those cutesie pins that show all those fabulous ways to pack your kiddo's lunch to make it more fun???  I have boys - one who is in middle school - they will never open their lunch box in public again if their sandwich is cut in the shape of a dinosaur or the fruit and cheese is formed in the shape of a tropical island.  So - here's my challenge to myself and I can promise you this list is evolving as I type it.  But, I WILL figure out how not to loathe lunch packing!!

1.  This is the most important tip of all....not breaking news folks....figure out what your kids like to eat.  Have a sit down with them before school is in full swing....find out what they like or don't like....what works in the lunch box and what doesn't.  I found out 2 yrs too late that every time I sent chicken nuggets from home - they were soggy by the time lunch rolled around. 

2.  Let them pick out their lunch box.  Kid's like to make their own decisions...again, not breaking news 

3.  Invest in a good thermos.  This is very important if your kid is down with taking a hot lunch.

4.  Pack dinner leftovers.  I mean, face it...most of us make dinners that we know everyone in the family enjoys or at least will eat without too much of a fit.  Make a little extra and pack it for lunch the next day. Wondering about how to keep it hot???  Read on....

5.  Invest in a few hot/cold packs.  You can find these in the Ace bandage section in most stores.  They can be heated or cooled and they will stay nice and flexible.  To pack for a hot lunch - heat the leftovers until smoking hot - fill thermos with crazy hot water to warm up the thermos - warm hot/cold pack in microwave - dump out thermos water, fill with smoking hot leftovers and snuggle the thermos into that child chosen lunch box with the hot wrap.  Pack your cold stuff, i.e. drink and fruit, into another pocket with a freezer pack.

6.  Invest in a lot of freezer packs.  These will get lost and/or thrown away.  I keep my freezer stocked with these guys.  You can get small ones for about $1 and they will always be needed.

7. Teach your older kids how to make their own lunch. When you get in a pinch - this skill can be invaluable!  I mean - every kid should know how to make a PBJ sandwich.  Throw some chips, an apple and a drink in a bag and I promise - they will survive until the after school snack.

8.  Keep plenty of fresh fruit and veggies on hand.  Easy to eat fruit and veggies!!!  Carrot sticks, celery sticks, apples, grapes, raisins...whatever your kid will eat.  Thrown them in a baggie and bam!  The lunch is now certifiably healthy!  Chef salads are also an awesome lunch if your kiddo will eat them.

9.  Pack everything possible into the lunch bag the night before.  If you are packing a hot lunch - load up all of the cold stuff and pack the hot goodness as the kids are eating breakfast the next morning.

10.  And most important - let your kid buy lunch every once in a while!  Most of them think it's pretty cool and who doesn't love school pizza? ;)  

66 comments:

  1. These are definitely all great tips for packing lunches. Funny that it took two years to figure out about the soggy chicken nuggets!

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  2. Great tips, it's always important to be prepared for back to school.

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  3. Good tips for both kids AND adults!

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  4. Good tips. I'll have to keep them in mind!

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  5. I love all of these tips, but the best one is packing leftovers. There's no need to make a new sandwich or whatever when you have perfectly good spaghetti from the night before.

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    1. And everyone knows - spaghetti is always better the second day :)

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  6. Those are some great tips. I love that you let the kids pick their own lunches.

    Michelle F>

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    1. Thanks! They enjoy being a part of the process :)

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  7. Absolutely let your kids pick out their lunch. They won't eat what they don't want, even if you give it to them in their lunch.

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  8. These are great tips for those with children who bring lunches to school!

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  9. Cheap freezer packs are stocked! I know they'll end up lost for sure

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  10. I have discovered one mom on Instagram posting the food she packs for her child to school. The food are presented in very cute cartoon-y characters. Maybe you can do the same to put a smile on your child's face. :)

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    1. There are definitely a lot of super cute ideas out there! Sadly, those days have passed for my two big boys :(

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  11. Great tips for packing lunches cold and hot. I am sure this will help a lot of parents. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. We stock up on freezer packs too! I think your tips are great.

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    1. You can never have enough! Thanks so much :)

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  13. These are great tips for school lunch. I think it must be so hard to come up with different ideas everyday.

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    1. It is! That's why it helps so much to have the kids involved :)

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  14. These are some great tips. Freezer packs are great.

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  15. great tips there..thanks for sharing..

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  16. I try to plan my daughter's weekly menu for lunch and I discuss it with her so she knows.

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  17. I love packing lunches and so glad my kids have to. I know their lunches are healthy and what they are eating. They aren;t picky. They just eat whatever I pack ;)

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    1. That's awesome! You are one lucky Momma :)

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  18. You definitely want to find out what they like. I know my mom would buy lunch food that I hated when I was a kid and I'd end up throwing most of it away and going hungry! We don't want our kids going hungry!

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    1. No we don't! Hungry kids are grumpy kids ;)

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  19. LOVE your tips! I especially love the tip on stock up on extra freezer packs!!

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    1. Thanks! Yep, they will disappear ;)

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  20. great tips perfect for kids who eat lunch at school. my son is only in kindergarten so he just bring snacks with him. I'll keep this mind.

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  21. I really should have packed lunches the night before, but that's something I never did for some reason. I don't know why. It makes sense!

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  22. Great tips. I'm counting down the days until mine start haha.

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  23. packing the night before is a good way to save time in the morning but planning out your lunch scheduled ahead of time will save time in the end great atricle

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    1. Thanks! Planning ahead is always great!

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  24. These are great tips! I also pack the night before to save time.

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  25. Great tips. We started letting our oldest pack his own lunches mid last year so he couldnèt complain to us that he didnèt like what we packed him.

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    1. My oldest is my least picky eater but he's so great about packing his own lunch when I need him too! Love my big boy :)

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  26. Packing up lunches the night before is crucial. It saves so much time in the morning.

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    1. Yes it does! Mornings that I have to pack lunches are torture!

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  27. nice reading this! this school year i will be doing most of tips i have read here thank you!

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  28. Haha thanks for sharing these tips and reminders, very helpful!

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  29. These are some great back to school tips. I agree with letting them pick out their own lunchboxes. I think sometimes it is good for them to make choices themselves. It gives them some independence too.

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    1. Absolutely! Kids love having a sense of ownership :)

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  30. These are really great tips! I'm ashamed to say that I for one am a school lunch user. But, using these tips I think I'll join you in the habit of making my own for my fifth grader.

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    1. No shame Momma!! Welcome to the lunch packers club :)

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  31. I am the absolute WORST at packing lunches! Whenever I do remember to pack one, I forget to bring it to work! Thanks for the amazing tips!

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  32. I saw the lunch menu at my kids school and its all super healthy. There are salads, whole grain everything (including the pizza) and they HATE it. They prefer to eat the healthy lunches I pack instead. I do fruits, veggies, and a sandwich...

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  33. Missing those lunch boxes when i was in school and my mom used to pack for me.

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  34. i think you have this school lunch business down pat! i am only packing for my little one's snack + i am all crazy! it does not help that my son is a picky eater + would only eat a handful of what i've thrown into his lunch box. fruits + veggies sure are a gem to pack + not to mention really good for the kiddos. thanks for sharing these nifty tips, i will be sure to keep them in mind

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  35. Great tips! Why have I never thought to pack him dinner leftovers??

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  36. Well my biggest kid (aka husband) takes lunch to work, so while my actual kids are still too little for this I still found the information useful. I really like the hint on using a hot thermos to keep lunches warm. He often doesn't have access to a microwave but likes to eat left overs (well six years into our marriage he finally realized how great they are). Will have to try that! Thanks!

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