I'm sure the easiest way to feed your children during the school year would be to send them to eat hot lunch every day. Then you use no time, and waste no stress, over packing lunches in the mornings. Unfortunately, my kids don't like every meal option at their school. So, our years consist of a mix-and-match of Sack/Hot lunch days.
In order to still try to eliminate the stress around preparing lunch in moarning rush, we have a few procedures in place when the lunch calendar comes home for the month.
- I have always asked my children to choose at least one hot lunch day a week, if for no other reason but to give me a break making lunches. If they choose more than one, I consider it a blessing as their school offers hot meal options much better than I can send in a lunch box.
- I insist they sit down with the calendar and highlight the days they want to eat hot lunch. My daughter helps her brother read and they highlight in different colors. The calendar then stays on the refridgerator.
- On the days I have to pack lunches, I try to do so the night before.
- But since I rarely remember, I have the kids help me in the mornings. To facilitate that, I keep the non-perishable choices in a box in a lower cabinet. While I'm making sandwiches, I tell them what to grab out of the box to put in their lunch box, for example: "One granola bar, one applesauce, and one pack of crackers." I also keep their drink options on the lower shelf of the refrigerator so they can do that part too.
- The last thing I do - more to add a bit of joy than to remove stress - is put the periodic joke in their lunch box. I did an internet search of "Jokes for Kids" and found thousands of pages. I simply copied and pasted them into a document and I printed it up. I cut one off a couple times a week. It's not as thoughtful as a hand-written note, but it takes less time and it's way more entertaining. And it makes you a hit with the other kids!
What time-saving tricks help you with lunches during the school year?