The morning chaos can be a struggle for any parent. You’ve got to get the children up, dressed and fed before school while also planning lunches, all before the bus comes bright and early in the morning. And that all happens before your first cup of coffee. What is a working parent to do? How do you plan a week’s worth of school lunches without breaking the bank or driving yourself crazy with planning and organizing? Plus, it would help if you could feel confident that your children are enjoying full, satisfying healthy lunches that will keep them going all day long. There are lots of fun ways to make lunch easy on yourself and your kiddos. Here are a few different ways to plan ahead to ensure you don’t lose your sanity once school is back in session.
Get the kids involved
Many parents agree that it helps to get the kids involved in the cooking and planning process. From having a weekly sit-down with the kids to make lunches together the night before school, getting the children involved in the process helps them develop a stronger understanding of what it takes to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Go Back to Basics
Check out Broomfield-based Back to Basics Kitchen or other similar pre-made meal organizations. These are not your typical grab-and-go lunch options. Instead, the culinary minds at Back to Basics offer fresh, fully prepared meals made from scratch (complete with all local and organic ingredients) that you can have ready for dinner and lunches all week long.
“Kids are fascinating, and we do see quite a range in our customers’ kids as to what they do and do not like. We actually also offer kid’s lunch sizes of certain options as well in a 4-ounce compostable container,” said Susanna Minichiello, owner of Back to Basics Kitchen. “What I’ve heard from the majority of our parent customers with more selective (i.e. picky) eaters is that simply being able to order our meals for themselves to relieve the pressure of planning dinners — often with multiple variations to deal with different family member preferences — makes it easier to whip up the more simple items that their kids want to eat.”
Back to Basics offers kid-friendly meals like the popular Cheesy Fresh Pasta (which is gluten free) made with whole milk, organic butter, white rice flour and Cabot white cheddar cheese. Other options include classic tuna salad, deviled egg salad, organic chicken Waldorf salad and more.
Invest In Good Containers
True, you’ll need to train the kids to bring the containers home, but a strong well-insulated container is all you need to ensure a delicious eating experience for your children come lunchtime. “We really love the various insulated container options for keeping items like our soups hot, which are an easy lunch option,” Minichiello offers. “For the more expansive eaters’ lunches, most of our parents get meals the kids would like then portion it themselves as appropriate into lunch containers.”
Get a few containers in colors your children like, you can even let them decorate with stickers or markers to help them create something they’ll want to take care of, then just make sure that container comes back home with them every day, so you can fill it again with another tasty meal.
Plan It Out
Now that you’re armed with a few easy tips, it’s time to plan for the week. Pick a day (Sunday works well for many) and create a weekly spreadsheet for the kids to help plan. A large dry erase board with different colors for each child hung prominently in the kitchen will help remind everyone what is planned for each day. Once the menu is made, all you have to do is look at the board each morning (or the night before) throw it in your specially-decorated fun containers and head out the door.