August 18, 2015
Back to school season means back to school lunch packing. (Our favorite!) I’ve found that the best way to get good and FAST at something—anything, really—is to figure out the best approach and practice it over and over again. Packing a school lunch is no different, which is why I’ve put together these 5 easy steps to pack school lunch like a pro.
Think of these steps as best practices for packing a healthy, balanced school lunch without too much extra thought or effort on your part. Follow them, over and over, and before you know it you’ll be moving through the task at lightening speed. And, even better, you’ll get so good that you’ll be able to start riffing and coming up with your own best practices.
When that happens, come back here and tell me what they are. Don’t forget the little people.
As you watch the video, there are lots of links that you can follow for more specific ideas and recipes that will help you execute on the 5 steps. To keep things as easy as possible, I’m also including links here.
Watch. Follow the links. Read up. Gather idea. School lunch has nothing on you this year.
* The first step to packing a great school lunch is all about balance. That means, among other things, always packing fruit and veggies. Get creative to make them more appealing. Cut veggies into fun shapes, check out these exciting ways to pack fruit in school lunch, make fruit and veggie roll ups—you get the point.
* Protein is another important part of a balanced lunch. These easy, protein-packed school lunch recipes will help you think about how to do that without always relying on deli meat.
* I have lots of ideas for thinking beyond the sandwich when you pack a lunch box main. Sandwiches get boring. We all know it. Healthy dips are another great way to go sandwich-free while still packing a nutritious, filling meal. Pair them with hard boiled eggs, hunks of cheese, whole grain chips, and rice cakes.
* You can also use leftovers in creative ways to go beyond the sandwich, especially cooked rice, orzo, or quinoa. Check out these ideas for rice, grain and pasta lunch bowls for lots of ideas from Mexican to Japanese, Greek to Italian.
* Doing a little advanced planning and some very simple batch cooking is a tremendous time saver and makes school mornings so much more relaxed. These dead easy, make-ahead Ham and Cheese Crescent Rolls are one of my kids’ favorite school lunches. Make-ahead Ham and Cheese Muffins are another favorite. Sensing a pattern?
* Having the right ingredients on hand is also a major help. These are my 4 essential pantry ingredients for great school lunches. I also always have peanut butter on hand or, if you go to a peanut-free school, make your own sunflower seed butter in just minutes to have on hand for the week.
* Making lunch interesting isn’t essential for packing, but is essential for making sure it gets eaten and, well, that’s the point, right? Who wants to put all this effort into becoming a school lunch packing ninja if the lunch box comes home untouched. So think colors, make it interactive like with this DIY Taco Lunchable, and have fun. Packing school lunch isn’t that bad, right?
Don’t answer that. Ha!