Some new habits
Packed lunches can be such a drag! Sigh! As a Mum, it’s one of the things I didn’t look forward to about the return to school in September. Packed lunch making can be monotonous, lonely and de-moralising, yet as a parent we want to give our child the best, and we are prepared to make the effort so that they can have a nutritious and tasty lunch.
So why not start as we mean to go on and get into some new habits this September. It is my personal goal to have an empty lunch box every day this term. What is your goal?
Make it a family thing
Firstly, no wonder we hate packed lunches so… we slave away every evening / morning packing, unpacking, washing and packing again. We rack our brains to send in new but nutritious products in our child’s lunch box, only to get half of it back again at the end of the day in a soggy, mushy mess in the bottom of the box. Seriously, if your children had to help would they be so nonchalent about it all? If you get your children involved, they become invested in the idea and want to make it work too. They might even have some cool suggestions of their own.
Here are some quick and easy ways you can get them involved:
- Sit down with them and brainstorm some new ideas for sandwich fillings, yogurt flavours, non-sandwich products. (see planning tip below)
- Ask them about what works/doesn’t work with their packed lunch
- Do a tasting session – get them to try out some new ideas
- Train them to empty their box and clean it out as soon as they get in from school
- Get them involved in some baking sessions (see freezer tips below)
- Teach them how to make a sandwich / wrap / salad pot
Planning makes packed lunches easier and more varied
You might already plan meals for dinner time and if you do, you’l know it takes the headache out of cooking dinner for the family, and it makes writing a shopping list easier and more efficient. Well, why not try out planning for your packed lunches. Here’s how I do my packed lunch planning:
My personal preference is for my children not to have the same sandwich filling, or even a sandwich every day. So I plan for them a sandwich / wrap only one day a week, then the other days could be; a salad pot, hot packed lunch, a picky picky lunch and a baked product lunch. This immediately brings variation to my children’s packed lunch diet and takes away the endless monotony of sandwich making. It also means that you can prepare ahead, so, for example if you ever have left overs from a family meal they can be frozen into packed lunch portion sizes for future use. You could make Mondays the Sandwich / wrap day and teach your children to make their own Sandwiches on a Sunday night.
To help you with this I’ve created a packed lunch planner sheet. It includes tick boxes on each day for each section of the Eatwell guide so that you can keep on top of nutrition as well. It also includes a shopping list at the bottom so that you can write your shopping list as you plan.
Oh, and one last thing on planning…
- Don’t throw away your planning sheets, keep them and reuse them in a few weeks time! So you’ll only need to do the planning once.
Make the freezer your new best friend
Many of us seriously under / mis-use our freezers. They are stuffed full of stuff we possibly may never eat and left overs we’ve forgotten about. Sometimes I could barely open the drawers of mine to get to the frozen peas (the main thing I use from the freezer!). A few months ago I had a really good clean out and dedicated drawers to certain things. For example, I made a drawer for left overs, a drawer for meats, a drawer for convenience foods and a drawer for packed lunch products.
Here are some ways you can use the freezer for your packed lunches:
- Bulk bake and freeze in individual portions for packed lunches – muffins, sausage rolls, soups, stews, chilli, pancakes, biscuits
- Freeze drinks to defrost in the lunch box helping to keep the box and your child cool
- Clean out your freezer and get organised – label things really well – set up a system to help you with this. e.g labels attached to the fridge with a magnet?
- Many things (more than you realise) even Sandwiches can be made ahead and frozen. They can then be left to defrost in your child’s lunch box during the day and will be ready by lunch. This means that you could actually make the whole weeks lunches on a Sunday night! Wow!
I hope these tips have helped you,
So, for the last year, I’ve been beavering away on a super package of packed lunch inspirations. It’s a bundle of ideas, recipes, worksheets and downloadable tools. It’s not quite finished yet, in fact I’m struggling to finish as I’m not quite sure HOW to package it. I need your help to get this thing finished… it’s too good to keep it hidden away on my computer. Please let me know in the comments below if you’d like to access such a thing online in a hub of some sort, or receive it through the post in a little booklet, or even attend a course with a take away pack of inspirations, worksheets and recipes. What would you like?
If you found this useful, you could also check out my Three step guide to rebalancing your lunch box. It also includes a free downloadable packed lunch pick n mix sheet