How to Save Time on School Lunches
(So You Can Actually Enjoy Your Morning Coffee)
When the kids are back in school it can be hard to adjust to the new routine. You may find yourself struggling to get yourself and your kids out the door on time because there’s always just one more thing that needs to be done before you leave — especially when it comes to making school lunches. Save time on school lunches this year by using these tips that will help you keep your mornings sane and make lunchtime fun instead of frustrating.
Choose your lunch menu
Organizing your lunch routine will make getting through your mornings a lot easier. Choose 3-5 menus to rotate each day. While variety might be the spice of life, a routine gets you and your kids out the door faster. You won‘t waste time thinking of what to make. Let dinner be the variety of your day.
Many kids don’t mind eating the same thing daily. You could even do themed days, Monday- Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich; Tuesday- Chicken Caesar Salad; Wednesday- Bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, and so on. Then, change it up a little bit seasonally and check in with the kids to see if they’re bored with anything they’re eating.
Do a pantry inventory
Now that you know what needs to go into your kids’ lunch each week, it’s time to do a pantry inventory and see what you may already have on hand. From there you can make a list of ingredients needed for the above menus. This ties into having an organized pantry. When you know where everything should be, it’s easier to spot when you’re out of a necessary ingredient.
Create spaces dedicated for lunch items
Once your pantry is organized and inventoried, you can set aside space dedicated for lunch items. This could be a basket near the refrigerator for produce, a tall plastic bin for boxed lunch foods, or a cabinet for cans of soup or fruit cups.
Used dedicated lunch containers
It’s not enough to just have the lunch box, you need to know what containers you have that will fit those lunch boxes. Having dedicated containers for lunch also keeps the rush of packing lunch down to a minimum. When you know which containers to use and where to find them, it takes the thought process out of the mix.
Use reusable water bottles
Just as dedicated containers help reduce the time it takes to find things, so do reusable water bottles. These bottles serve a greater purpose too, beyond saving the planet. When your child knows which water bottle is hers, she’s less likely to spread or pick up germs by drinking out of any disposable generic water bottle.
Getting the kids involved
Getting the kids involved in packing their lunch can help speed things along and is important for children and their development. We can do several things to help them along.
For elementary-aged children, organize your pantry and refrigerator with bins of “take ones”. These can be labeled as take one fruit, one cheese/dairy, one protein, one drink, etc. This teaches them what a balanced nutritional lunch is, depending on your family’s personal preferences. It also keeps the kids in check from packing a lunch that is all string cheese and no fruit or veggies. You can always double-check their lunches as you go out the door, just in case.
As children get older, packing their own teaches them autonomy and the consequences of their choices. Didn’t pack enough protein? It could be why you’re hungrier later in the day.
With all ages, it teaches them the responsibility of chipping in as a family. The sooner you start, the easier it will get as they get older.
Dedicate time to packing lunches
Along with the other tips, this can be customized to what fits your family best. Should lunches be packed the morning of? Make sure there is enough time to wake up, eat breakfast, pack lunch, and get out of the door.
Maybe packing the night before or as soon as the kids get home from school might work better for your kids who drag their feet in the mornings.
Finally, you could batch and pack everything on Sunday for the week. Whatever you choose, consistency helps take the decision fatigue out of the mix.
Local Professional Organizer
If you’re ready to get organized for lunches, back to school, or just real life, Totally Organized is here to help. Totally Organized home organization services can get your kitchen and pantry efficiently set up for day-to-day life. Our Dallas area professional home organizers tackle all kinds of projects from big to small. Contact us for a free consultation.