[Want to see more of what I'm cooking every day? Follow me over on Facebook and Instagram for lots more updates.] I meant to do this long before school started this year, but things get busy and time gets ahead of me. Some of these are repeats from other posts, but I thought it might be helpful if I gathered up all my school lunch pics from last school year into one long post for you. So this gives you a pretty good picture of the kind of variety we have - some lunches are more creative, some are very basic. I try to use up leftovers as much as possible, and I try to give them as much variety as I can because I've noticed over time that my kids will stop eating the food if I give them the same thing too often. I guess they just get bored with it. Sometimes all the kids have the exact same lunch, sometimes they're all different if I'm using up small amounts leftovers. Even when I give them all the same thing, sometimes I will vary the quantity for each child. I have one who will eat everything I give him, no matter how much I cram in there (and still ask for a sandwich when he gets home from school), and I have one who eats like a mouse.
I love the EasyLunchBoxes containers because they give me some constraints to work in, I like having three separate spaces to fill, and the amount they hold is usually just the right amount of food. I try to give a fruit and/or a vegetable as much as possible, and usually some kind of protein. I don't have strict guidelines, but my goal is to usually strive for balance. As for drinks - I don't send a drink each day. Both of my kids' schools let them keep a water bottle in their cubbie or on their desk, so they usually just refill their water bottle and drink water with lunch, and then bring it home weekly to be washed. The older two are in an elementary school with a lunch room, and so they know that they have the option of buying a milk with their lunch if they want to. I think my daughter usually does, and I think my son only gets it occasionally.
I have also found that having a little bit of a weekly meal plan makes lunch packing a lot easier. So my general schedule is this:
- Monday: weekend leftovers, or sandwich
- Tuesday: something with a tortilla - quesadilla, burrito, pinwheel, etc.
- Wednesday: breakfast for lunch (oatmeal, pancake, boiled egg, etc.)
- Thursday: "lunchable" (crackers, cheese, ham)
- Friday: leftovers or sandwich
I don't stick to this 100%, if I have something else leftover in the fridge or get another creative idea and have time to act on it, I will. But those evenings when I know I need to get the lunches packed and my brain is fried and I can't think of what I'm supposed to do, it's great to have a plan to look at and just say "ok, quesadilla. I can do that.", without really having to think.
So, pour yourself another cup of coffee, this is a long one. But hopefully some of what I've made can give you a few ideas for what to pack for your school lunches. And as always, feel free to ask my any questions, or let me know if there's anything you'd like to see here. And don't forget to pop on over to Facebook or Instagram to see what I'm cooking up right now.
And now, for the lunches. Sorry some of these aren't better quality pictures, sometimes the best I can manage is a quick iPhone snap before I throw them in the bags and get the kids out the door.