Back to School Lunches During the Pandemic

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What to pack for school lunch has always been a question that sounds like “what’s for dinner”?  The answer is always I do not know or should I say let’s just have what we always have. The good thing about school lunch is sometimes your child can eat a hot meal on a cold day at school. This year school-provided lunches may not be prepared nor served in the same manners as in the past. In some schools, lunch will be all pre-packaged items and your children cannot choose what they eat. I personally do not want my child to eat pre-packaged foods every single day. I am also not a mom that does the best with making my child to eat as healthy as she should. 

How do we easily make lunches for our children that will last until lunchtime? 

Making lunchtime easy is a goal whether our children or going to an actual school or e-learning from home. The first step is to think “Lunchable”.  They are so simple, in a nice simple container, and kids love them. Bento boxes are a great choice if your child is going into school or you need a lunch on the go. Honestly, I have held out on the bento boxes and used about one gazillion small plastic bags over many years of lunches. Purchasing a couple of $5 plastic bento-like boxes will save our family about $60 or more in boxes of plastic bags. My daughter picked out her favorite colors and it made it even easier for me. She now is excited to help me pack them for her lunch. 

What do we put in these bento-like boxes?

In making our grocery list, make sure we can include carbs, proteins, fruits, and vegetables in each box. Items to include would be making the pizza lunchable: pepperoni, shredded cheese, pizza sauce, and grapes. We would probably include a bag of candy (chocolate or sugar) then add a piece of candy as a treat to include in our lunch. All of these items would already be on our grocery list in a typical week. Try not to over complicate the lunch. Combine snack-size items into each container. 

Meal prep

The lunch boxes can even be prepped on Sunday for the week. Most items will last all week.  Do not include the non-refrigerated items until the day you choose to take that lunch.  If it is a hot meal, wait until it cools before placing it into the fridge. On days, when your child does not want a snack lunch, get a lunch size thermos.  Fill that with warm pasta and fill your small containers with the crackers, fruits, dips, or whatever works for that meal. 

Have a plan for each week

Look at your ingredients if you want to make your plan for the week.  Another option is to plan meal days. For example, your week could look like this: Monday – Easy Monday (veggie, hummus, fruit, cheese slices or yogurt, and a treat). Tuesday – Snoozday (turkey sandwich or roll-up, fruit, chips, and a treat). Wednesday – Roll-up Day (peanut butter roll-up or sandwich, applesauce, chips, and a treat). Thursday – Rockin’ Thursday (mix up some of the ingredients from Monday). Friday – Pizza Friday of course! (pepperonis, pizza sauce, shredded cheese, fruit or veggies, and a treat).

Take it easy on yourself!

Use what you have and do not feel like you have to throw a peanut butter sandwich at your child every day (like I did for my child for months). I would look at Pinterest and get overwhelmed even though they were so easy. Seriously, I just needed a plan. My child eats everything I listed above sometimes just as a quick dinner. She is going into second grade and is helping me prepare her meals. She likes to make her lunch because she can pick her items. We have gone over what needs to go in each i.e. protein, carbs, fruits, veggies, and a treat of some sort. We also began taking the box soymilk. Those do not have to be refrigerated which is great if the lunchbox doesn’t have room to put the milk on the freezer pack. We keep ours in the refrigerator, so it is still cold by lunchtime. Occasionally, we will put a juice box in her lunch but the problem with those is that it is not enough to drink. Those are usually gone before the first three bites are taken.

Give yourself a break in this crazy season. Try to prep as much as you can before your school week begins and then grab and go throughout the week.

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