Back to school means back to packing lunches daily if you have young children to help out in the mornings. Of course this task can be especially difficult when you have your own lunch to pack as well.
It’s hard to get back into a routine, but meal planning can be especially vital in making sure everyone has a healthy and fun lunch ready to grab before heading out the door. In fact, planning out meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner can ease stress, save money, and provide more opportunities for family bonding as everything is already arranged and prepared for mealtimes.
First things first, take out all those cookbooks that are just collecting dust in your kitchen cabinets and mark off some recipes you’d like to try. Start planning meals for just one week. Choose about 4-5 dinner recipes for the week and make a list of all the ingredients you will need that you don’t already have in your kitchen. This will most likely provide you with some extra food for leftovers throughout the week that you can use to pack for lunch.
Next, make a list of all the fruits and vegetables that your family enjoys best. Goodbye chips, hello crudités. Cutting everything up after your trip to the grocery store allows for quick preparation, as you can measure out all the snack portions for everyone’s lunch for the whole week. Extras can also provide you with an energizing snack to avoid that mid-afternoon slump we all know so well.
Another great lunch option is a side salad. There are so many additions to aid in creating a unique salad for every day of the week: include veggies, bacon, berries, nuts or seeds, quinoa, chicken or steak, cheese, and dressing of choice. The possibilities are endless, and the kids will love having a salad bar of items to choose for a DIY lunch.
Another DIY lunch can be created by utilizing your very own deli bar. By purchasing a loaf of bread, or sandwich wraps, and a variety of lunch meats, you can pre-make all the sandwiches you need for the rest of the week, as well.
Finally, breakfast can be made so much simpler by planning ahead as well. There are countless of recipes that work overnight to leave you with a ready-made meal as soon as you start your day. Overnight oats, batters, or homemade breakfast sandwiches that just need heated in the microwave are just a few options.
Meal planning can be a chore, but with some careful planning, and teamwork from the family, you can have all of your meals created and prepped for the entire week, and have fun doing it. Just remember to only include the foods on your grocery list that you will actually prepare and eat for the week. Soon enough you will get into the meal prepping routine making the mornings, afternoons, and evenings, that much easier for everyone with a grumbling tummy.
Click here to find a detailed list of some of the best packed lunch ideas for school and work, in addition to some other great and healthy tips.