When it comes to packing lunches, I’m all about keeping it simple. I’d much rather get into an easy routine that guarantees that a lunch will actually get made, than over-complicate the process and burn out two weeks into the school year.
After over a decade of packing lunches for kids, I’ve come up with a few ways to make packing nutritious lunches fast and easy. Hopefully these tips will help you as you’re gearing up for lunch-packing season!
1) Keep a supply of healthy “fillers” on hand – and make sure everyone knows they’re for lunches only. In an out-of-reach cabinet high above the fridge, I keep a box that stores all our lunch “sides”: granola bars, whole-wheat crackers, fruit squeezes, pretty much anything that doesn’t have to be stored in the fridge or made that day. My kids know that the basket is for lunches only – hands off! That way I can keep tabs on inventory and make sure there’s always enough on hand.
2) Shop sales and stock up. Instead of replenishing lunch supplies every week during my regular supermarket trip, I wait until our favorite items go on sale and stock up. That way I can splurge on the healthier versions of some snacks (like the cereal bars that don’t contain high-fructose corn syrup) without making a big dent in my grocery budget.
3) Opt for packaged versions of healthy foods. Fruit harvested and packaged fresh off the tree is still packed with vitamins and fiber, and can sometimes even be more nutritious than that imported apple that’s been lingering in the fruit bowl for a week. For example, Del Monte Fruit Cups come in a no-sugar-added variety and offer an assortment of kid-tested flavors to choose from.