Back To School Lunchbox Dilemma
As much as I love the summer I am always glad when it is Back To School time. Except for one thing: the start of school means packing lunches again in this house because we eat a whole food plant based diet and because I shudder at most school lunches I see on the menus. It is so nice to be able to take a break from all of that in the summer.
My favorite choice to pack in my daughter’s lunch box is dinner leftovers from the night before, usually in an insulated food jar so it stays hot until lunchtime. Thankfully that’s also her favorite too. I frequently cook a double batch of dinner so that we both have lunch the next day or so I can freeze some for another time when we are going to be busy. I make sure to portion the food out before I freeze it so it is ready to throw in the microwave when needed.
School lunches have always challenged me because I consistently forget to add them to my weekly meal planning process. Plus, my dear, sweet child would always sit and look blankly at me when asked what she wanted for lunches the next week on the days when I did remember to ask prior to hitting the grocery store (or by text if I was already there!). Every year through elementary and middle school I had all the school supplies ready to go weeks before school began but that fact that I had to pack her lunch every day snuck up on me every time!
Are you planning your logistics for Back-To-School Night, organizing all the supplies, matching lunchboxes and backpacks in the hallway but still haven’t thought what is going IN those lunchboxes? Help is at hand!
Last year I created a bunch of checklists to help with organizing the home that will be loaded in my free resource library (click here to access) and one of those checklists, which is actually more like a worksheet is a lunchbox sheet to remove the pain for both you and your child.
Each week I sit down with my daughter to make food selections for the week ahead and this sheet gives us both a starting point because, if you’re like me, starting with a blank piece of paper takes ten times longer than if I have prompts to work with. Plus, if I don’t get the chance to connect with her on next week’s school lunches or we are running late one day I have something I can make selections from and know she will still be cool with her lunchbox.
To keep us both on track I have the week’s lunchbox selections posted on a whiteboard sheet on the wall in my kitchen so she knows what will be coming and so do I as I race around in the morning trying to get us both ready!
The added advantage to having this checklist is it helps me stick to the goal of eating healthier by making removing the temptation to give her something fast and easy, but necessarily healthy.
There are so many decisions in a day, statistics say something like we all have to make around 200 decisions each day. That’s overwhelming for me and often leads me towards not so healthy choices because they are easier. Being able to sit down ahead of time and figure out some healthy but great tasting choices makes it a lot more likely that I will have less mommy guilt when packing my daughter’s lunchbox each day. And anything that can take a little mommy guilt away is good in my book.
Grab your copy of the worksheet here along with one I filled in already for some inspiration.
You’ll see that the first option is a PB & <fill in the blank> option because we’re not fans of PB&J in this house. Heresy I know, what can I say. We like to be rebels so sometimes the sandwich will be PB and bananas, or chocolate, or anything that sparks her curiosity from a web search of potential PB partners. The items on our worksheet are in order of preference rather than alphabetical. That helps me decide what to put in the lunchbox when we have forgotten to plan things out or we have to make a different selection from what was planned.
I hope this helps make things run a little smoother for you.