Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Lunch Bunch

The start of school marks the beginning of early mornings, homework, and sack lunches.  It's enough to keep any mother awake with excitement {or not}. Oh, and remember those first day of school nightmares? I had the mom version where I didn't take my kids to school until 1:30...and to last year's teacher.

I think the biggest real life nightmare is going to be packing lunches. My sack lunches are pretty standard and seem to illicit groans and pleas for expensive school lunches. Today was the first day of school and I'm already stuck in a rut. I need some fresh ideas to satisfy the kiddos and myself. No, I'm not planning on going back to school, but I hate making lunch twice. If I make the lunches tempting enough, maybe even the hubby will get in on the "let's save money and pack our own lunches" program.
My goal is to make packing lunches fast, easy, healthy, affordable, and fun. Oh, and without the kids complaining. Impossible? We shall see. On that note, I'd better start with fun {and healthy}. Here are some ideas I've collected for this school year:
  • Have the kids sit down with me and make a list of their favorite fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat choices. I'll pick from this list when I'm making my meal plan for lunches.
  • Try new combinations. Mix two fruits together, switch up the bread choices {waffles, pancakes, bagels, English muffins, pitas, croissants, tortillas}, chicken and tuna salads, veggie sandwiches, etc.
  • Add dips for fruits and vegetables. Here are some adaptable ideas for packaging anything that needs a dip.
  • Cut it out! Kids {and grownups} like variety. Just cutting or slicing something differently can make it more appealing. Mellon balls instead of wedges, apples sliced so you can see the "star" in the center, cheese cut into shapes, fruit pieces to eat with a toothpick {Sidenote, I just tried this yesterday at home - the kids had apple pieces with a toothpick for a fork, and Camille said, "Ooooh. Fancy apples!}
  • Improve presentation. The kids got {cute} new lunch boxes and I'm going to try to package things differently.  Camille saw a cute little cottage cheese and fruit combo at the store, and I'm pretty sure it was the package she wanted more than the contents. So this falls under the new combo category also...at her request. Keep it interesting! Sometimes I'll put a sticky note on a tupperware container. Or have a "find the sticker in your lunch" day. But not EVERY day. That would be way too much work. Just when things are getting a little boring.
Here are some fun resources I plan to reference regularly in my quest to make lunch time more interesting. Some of the above info came from these websites also.
free lunchbox printables
www.weelicious.com/ This is a great resource! More than just lunch recipes - her videos are fresh and fun with some great tips on keeping mealtimes interesting.
http://www.ilunchbox.com/ Devoted to all things lunch.
http://www.laptoplunches.com/ 365 lunch ideas. You can also sign up to receive weekly lunch menus
http://www.school-lunch-ideas.com/ Looks like a fun site I could get lost in!
More lunch ideas
Sandwich and snack ideas

How do you keep sack lunches fun for your kids? Any tricks on getting your hubby to take a lunch to work?

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