School lunches.

Why do these two words bring on so much anxiety? Packing a school lunch at the beginning of the year is like putting up Christmas decorations….whereas packing a school lunch at the end of the year is much like taking down those gosh darn Christmas decorations. Am I right?

So what do you do? Well, first off, kids can become accountable for their own lunch at an early age. 1st grade would be my suggestion, with some supervision of course. But, while you are cleaning up dinner, the elementary aged humans in your house could easily be preparing their own feast for the next day. I like to meal prep a bit. I package up sandwiches, salads, snack sized bags of fruit & veggies, dip containers, etc…on the weekend. Sunday night usually. I put them all in a central location in the fridge, so each morning, its just grab and go. I even bake a batch of cookies or brownies and bag those up, and I always buy the small bags of chips. I keep “lunch items” all together so that they know where to quickly look. The items in the fridge are all together, and I have a kitchen drawer for chips & one for sweets.

This system works well for us, because it means I only have to prep lunches once. Then, they assemble it themselves. For years, I have been buying the PackIt brand lunch boxes. If you aren’t familiar, the whole lunch box gets thrown in the freezer. No ice packs needed! They last forever, and eliminate the stress of locating the ice packs in the morning (which have the same personality as socks, btw). I buy mine off of Amazon (obviously) but I have also seen them at TJ Maxx, Office Depot and of course, Jake & Ellie both picked lunch boxes that are larger than the standard, since often times they stay after school for sports- and need more food.

I buy fun napkins at Home Goods for Jetts lunch box, and he gets a kick out of them all year. He always comes home excited when I pack a new one! (Its the little things with him). And, even though the are both in high school this year, I enjoy packing notes for my bigs from time to time. Just something short if they have a tough test, or game that day. Something to make them feel like I’m giving them a hug….without actually inflicting any public embarrassment.

I’d love to hear your tricks/tips on school lunch packing! We are all in this together, and we have 9 glorious months to figure it out!