Back to School Lunch Planning & Prep

I cannot believe it is time to head back to school already. I was just getting into the groove of Summer & starting to enjoy a few days of relaxation. When Amanda, from ABC30, called me to schedule a live segment from YCA on getting ready for back to school, reality set in. It really is time... She asked for tips to make it easier for families to make lunches to bring to school. Amanda has been to my house & has seen my snack drawer that is for my daughter to grab (mostly) healthy snacks on the go. She asked that I share that along with a few other ideas.

Amanda Venegas, from ABC30, and I smiling for the camera between Live shots

Amanda Venegas, from ABC30, and I smiling for the camera between Live shots

Of course my mind starting racing. If I only have 1.5-2 minutes, what would be the best advice I can share? After thinking about it between planning menus for my camps, playing with the girls, feeding the baby, making dinner, etc, etc…. I decided the best advice is to prep in advance. The saying, "A Sunday well Spent, brings a week of content," comes to mind. Use Sunday to get everything ready to make morning routines during the week easier on yourself. The second bit of advice is to let your kiddos get involved and help. If you struggle with picky eaters, allowing your child to get in the kitchen and have a little "independence" and ownership over what they eat is going to be great for him/her.

My little taste tester, Queen Elsa. When I got home from work her and Nana were very busy with a costume parade but she immediately stopped to try out this sandwich. It's a winner!

My little taste tester, Queen Elsa. When I got home from work her and Nana were very busy with a costume parade but she immediately stopped to try out this sandwich. It's a winner!

To help with organization I rely on bins that I picked up from Home Goods. I have a large pull out drawer and have 4 separate bins inside with snacks for my daughter. In it you will find raisins, dried edamame, dried fruit, Lara Bars, fruit chews, pretzels, cereal bars, yogurt covered raisins, etc. My daughter knows the are snacks for "on the go" or for packing in the lunch box.

In my fridge, I have 3 clear long and thin containers, 1 is for Veggies, 1 is for fruits, and 1 is for Dairy snacks, and lastly there is a container that has Hard boiled eggs in it. My family relies on hard boiled eggs as an easy snack & good source of protein. On Sunday, I purchase the ingredients then prep & bag my lunch items. Then during the week we grab the lunchbox and my daughter can pick 1 item from each bin to choose what she has for lunch that day. By the end of the week, she will inevitably eat the foods she might have been avoiding at the beginning but she doesn't seem to mind (yet).

Snack Drawer organization. Easy to take snack favorites like Lara Bars, Raisins, Edamame, etc.

Snack Drawer organization. Easy to take snack favorites like Lara Bars, Raisins, Edamame, etc.

Last week, while picking up a few items from the Dollar Store, I found Frozen ziplock bags, guess who won mom of the year that day!?! I stocked up on a couple of boxes to make her lunch box a little more fun.

Some ideas to put in your bins:

One more bit of advice, you can make sandwiches on Sunday, wrap them in saran wrap and put them in the Freezer. In the morning when your kiddos grab a veggie, fruit, dairy, sweet treat, they can grab a sandwich from the freezer and be ready to go. For the sandwiches, skip the condiments so that it doesn't get soggy. Pack dipping sauces or condiments in the bag.

Prepare school lunches on Sunday, get the kiddos involved to make it easier. Tips for Lunches.jpg

Sometimes it is fun to do something out of the norm and make something special to surprise our kiddos at lunch time. I remember when my Dad would pack my lunches. He always packed enough to feed the entire table and always including little gourmet touches, that made me giggle. i know now it was his way to show a little love during the day while I was at school. Here are 3 ideas that are still pretty simple that you can prepare in advance and send with your kiddos.

Sandwich on a stick

Sandwich on a stick

Sandwich on a Stick:

  •  1 slice bread, cut into 4 triangles
  • Meat: Turkey & Salami
  • Cheddar cheese squares, Optional: cut into mini stars with cookie cutter
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers, sliced 1/2 inch

Layer ingredients onto skewer. Pack with a dipping sauce like hummus or ranch dressing.

Banana Sushi Bento Box

Banana Sushi Bento Box

Banana Sushi Bento Box:

  • 1 slice bread
  • 1 Banana
  • 2 TB Peanut Butter
  • 1 tsp Honey
  1. Remove crust and use a rolling pin to flatten the bread until tortilla like thickness.
  2. Spread peanut butter evenly over bread and layer on honey.
  3. Lay banana at one edge of bread and roll bread around.
  4. Using a sharp knife, cut small slices, like sushi and serve in bento box
Build your own taco

Build your own taco

Taco Bar to go:

  • Shredded Chicken or Ground Beef
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sliced grape tomatoes
  • shredded cheddar
  • Tostados chip Scoops
  • Cupcake Liners
  1. Put liners into a plastic to go container, fill each liner with 1 ingredient. 
  2. Optional: add salsa in sealable reusable container
My daughter enjoys putting together her own tacos for lunch

My daughter enjoys putting together her own tacos for lunch

My daughter was so excited to try all 3 of these lunch ideas.. She saw the skewer right when I walked in the door and immediately wanted to eat it. She likes dipping the pieces in hummus, so I will make sure to pack a container for her to take when I make these again. I bought a few Sistema reusable containers for dressing, knick knacks, & yogurt. I think I will put these to a lot of use this year.

You can check out the video from our Live segment. I hope you find some of these ideas helpful. I would love for you to share what you do to make your life easier when heading back to school.