This is not a sponsored post. Just one of those “I like this, you might too” kind of things. I did use affiliate links because I might as well make the 60 cents commission. 60 cents. Not kidding.
If I had to list the top 3 things that I hate doing the most as a mom, it would be:
2. Emptying the dishwasher.
3. Making lunches.
My aversion to making lunches does not discriminate solely to school lunches. I’m talking the meal of lunch as a whole. I don’t know why this is…especially since I don’t mind making breakfast and I mostly enjoy cooking dinner. There’s just something about stopping everything I’m doing in the middle of the day to make another mess in the kitchen. Plus, I don’t really like eating lunch foods…so maybe that’s why. Someday I’ll sit down and psychoanalyze all of this, but for now…I just really, really, really, REALLY do not like it.
Packing school lunches is kind of like adding insult to injury. The worst kind of making lunch in all the land.
A simple Pinterest search will give you all KINDS of clever ways to make lunches for your kids. Healthy options. Making things varied and fun. If this is the morning you want to feel like an inferior mother…by all means click on that link.
I assure you this is not that post.
I also assure you that I in no way think this is all that amazing or ground breaking of a technique. But I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen something ridiculously simple on Pinterest…and smacked my head thinking “Why on EARTH didn’t I think of that?!” In fact, I even have a board called just that. Sometimes things are so simple, they escape you. So, this is my I-know-this-isnt-revolutionary-but-it-might-make-your-mornings-easier-so-Ill-go-ahead-and-post-about-it-anyway.
Here’s the trick: make ALL of your lunches at once. For the entire week. In one shot.
Shocking, right? I know. But seriously. I’ve started doing this and I cannot tell you how AWESOME my mornings are Tuesday through Friday. (Mondays are the worst…because not only am I making lunches…but I’m making TEN of them. Yuck.) And with the new year and all, many of us are looking for ways to simplify.
I start by raiding my fridge and pantry for anything and everything that might be included in a lunch.
I put it all in a big pile on my counter. Edamame, black berries, raisins, oranges, pineapple, graham crackers, pretzels…whatever. It’s all game.
I normally buy the big containers of yogurt and portion it out in their little easy lunch boxes (more on that in a bit)…but Chobani follows me on Instagram and back in October, they asked if they could link to our family Halloween picture in exchange for a box of yogurt.
My kids loooooove yogurt. Like, if given the choice of a toy from the dollar bin at Target, or an individual yogurt cup from the refrigerator section…they often choose yogurt. I am not kidding. They’re kinda weird.
So, this week, they were treated with individual cups of Chobani Champions too. They thought they were in school lunch heaven.
Next comes what amounts to an ENTIRE loaf of bread.
All lined up. Like little whole grain soldiers. I make my kids eat the kind of bread with sticks in it. (Not really sticks, but that’s what I call bread that has visible seeds and stuff in it.)
My kids love peanut butter and jelly the way I love a day at the spa. They would happily eat it every day, three times a day. I was assured by my pediatrician that if served on whole wheat bread, it’s really not a terrible option. So, I go with it.
It’s not clever or shaped like Phineas and Ferb, but it works.
I will admit to cutting the crusts off of my kids’ sammies.
Here’s the deal: I don’t eat my crusts. I know, I know. But I can’t exactly make my kids eat their crust, as I’m peeling mine off.
I only cut the crusts off because I can cut reaaaaalllly super close with a bread knife. Left to their own devices, the kids end up peeling away 3/4 of their sandwich.
Plus, we take these spoils and feed the ducks at the park. Reuse, recycle, and such.
I bought a set of these EasyLunchboxes when Henry first started school. I loooove them. For starters, they keep the sandwich from getting squished and smooshed…and they save on sandwich baggies and having to buy individually portioned snacks.
It seemed really silly to me to put everything into 4-5 sandwich bags at 8 a.m. just to have them be tossed in the trash by the kids by noon. Times three kids. Times five days a week. That’s a lot of baggies. For just a few hours.
Plus, I can buy snacks in bulk and portion it out this way. Waaaaaay cheaper.
When I decided to start doing lunches all at once, I ordered two more sets of EasyLunchboxes. Totally worth it.
I line them all up and just start filling them up. I even package up their lunches immediately with the necessary fork or spoon right in the box. The shorty Take and Toss utensils fit perfectly and they’re cheap so if they accidentally get tossed in the trash, I don’t lose my mind.
Sometimes I want to tuck in a fourth option like raisins or blueberries. A silicone cupcake “wrapper” makes a perfect bitty holder.
They all get stacked in the fridge. Waiting their turn to make it into someone’s lunch.
Now…if you remember, Henry is in a hybrid schooling program and only goes to school twice a week…and Lucy only goes to preschool three times a week. Yet, I make 10 lunches. (Jilly eats the school lunches.) Can I tell you how AWESOME it is to tell Henry on a home school day “Hey bud, it’s lunch time. Go grab a lunch and eat.” Boom. He pulls one out. Done. I don’t have to do anything.
It’s so beautiful, I could cry.
While Mondays are kinda miserable with making ten dumb lunches…Tuesday through Friday are almost poetic.
20 seconds of work.
Now for a quick caveat: the EasyLunchboxes things are specifically designed for the lids to be easily removed. That way, kids can pull them off without help from their teachers. The “problem” with this design is that they are NOT spill proof. This is not like your mama’s Tupperware that could be tossed from a four story building and not make a mess. They have to be transported flat. Which means that if you want to use them, you’ll have to be sure that your kid’s lunch pail keeps the boxes horizontal. And while I often pour yogurt into their boxes with no trouble, I probably wouldn’t be comfortable packing something more liquid-y like soup. Not that my kids would eat soup for lunch in a million years.
The Easy Lunchbox people created their own bags…but they are advertised as being able to hold three of the containers…too big for my kids. In our case, I’ve found these bags to work: Jilly’s rainbow owl bag is a stretchy neoprene that will stretch out to accommodate the box (from Target). Also from Target is Lucy’s bag. It’s not very cute and you can see that it looks a little catywompus by the time I put her water bottle in there too. It really could stand to be a tiny bit deeper, but it fits the bill well enough. Lastly, Henry’s bag is actually my favorite. It’s made my Dickies (like the work pants)…but I got it when he was a baby (it’s how we transported my breast milk to and from daycare!) and a quick Google search doesn’t return any shopping results for this specific bag. Boo. I’ve also heard that some of the bags from Potterybarn Kids work too. But I can’t vouch for that personally.
So there you have it: super simple. Not earth shattering. But morning in the Gibson house changing.
Do you have a lunch packing system? Why do I hate making lunches so much? Psychoanalyze me. Go. (Actually, don’t. I’m scared.)
UPDATE: many of you have asked about sogginess being an issue. I haven’t had trouble with this. I suppose if your PB&Js did get soggy, you could do peanut butter on both sides of the bread with the jelly in the center. Also, I haven’t gotten any complaints about the pretzels/crackers and stuff being soggy either. I store my bread in the fridge all the time (which is dumb because it gets eaten super quickly around here), and have never had any issue with sogginess in that case either. There has never been condensation in the containers so everything is just cold…although likely room temp by the time the kid’s lunchtime rolls around. Also, I think I once saw something about a mom wrapping the sandwiches in saran wrap to keep them from getting yucky. Maybe if you were doing a mayo/lunch meat combo?