Week 2 of the Lunch Box Challenge: Streamlining and Simplifying

Two weeks into the Lunch Box Challenge, and I’m still going strong! Last week I worked on working lunch packing into our nightly routine. This week, the focus was on streamlining and simplifying the process.

I admit that a few times I was tempted to bump the inaugural school lunch day by, oh, a week or so. Sorely, sorely tempted. Not surprisingly, it was the days that I lost sight of my nightly routine that the lunchbox shuffle seemed the hardest to pull off. Get a little bit too tired or a little bit off-kilter, and suddenly the thought of opening the refrigerator door one more time just seemed too wearying for words.

I’m happy to report that each time I managed to overcome my moment of weakness and slap together some lunches. On those nights, having a simplified packing process definitely made a big difference, and left me thinking “what was the big deal, anyway?”

Here’s what makes packing lunches simpler for me:

  • I try to time lunch-packing for when the counters will be reasonably cleared off and there won’t be a lot of distractions (pots boiling over, kids boiling over, etc.) It makes me feel claustrophobic and slightly crazy to try to pack multiple lunches in our small kitchen when there’s “stuff” all over the counters, so I generally either pack lunches right after loading the dishwasher – or at least after loading the dirty dishes into the sink.
  • I come up with a list of what I’m going to make for each child and how many slices of bread, pieces of fruit, etc I’ll need for the lunch, and pull everything together before I start.
  • I pull out all the tools, containers, and anything else I’ll need and set it on the counter. I try to arrange everything in a row, with each tool near its for example, the knife goes near the huge stack o’ bread, the apple slicer with the apples, etc. Then I work my way down the assembly line left-to-right.
  • I only use tools that really make things go faster – including the time to find the gadget and clean it afterward. For example, the apple corer/slicer from One Step Ahead makes cutting up apples so fast, it’s totally worth the effort of getting it out and cleaning it afterward. On the other hand, the sandwich slicer takes more effort than a simple slice with a knife. I save it for leisurely evenings when I feel like packing a little more fun into the lunches.

I’m not always super-organized. Like any mom, sometimes I’m working around stacks of dirty dishes with a two-year-old hanging off my leg, and I can’t seem to find the lid to the lunch box. But I have found that it makes the process much more pleasant when I create a neat surface and lay everything out ahead of time. So that’s the “ideal” I go for…even though much of the time I’m packing under less-than-ideal conditions.

How did your second week of the Lunch Box Challenge go? I’ll tell you, after two weeks of a whole lotta PBJ and apple slices, I’m ready to try some new menu ideas. Next week I’ll be posting about what goes in those sacks and boxes, with a post that will be brought to you by MOMables, a lunch-menu recipe subscription and a great giveaway.

Speaking of giveaways, I’ve got the winners of last week’s giveaway here! The two comments that will each win one copy of of The Lunch Box are:

Author: Aimee in Or.
Comment: permalink
Okay, so this last week I packed everyday! Yay! Granted the week was only two days but still, right?? =) I have a cupboard that has all of the lunch supplies such as, containers, wrap-mats, Reuseies, and ‘lil lunch box notes. In another drawer I have all of the dry lunch/snack stuff such as, crackers, smashed fruit, nuts etc. I printed from Tipjunkie.com a ‘whats for lunch’ printable check list for each food group. My kids have the ‘pack-it’ lunchbox cooler that goes into the freezer each night so I cant put all of their food in it the night before. So we have laid on the counter what they would like along with a post-it note listing what the ‘main dish’ will be. (no changing your mind in the morning either) What I can put in the fridge went in i.e., grapes and olives. Also their water bottles were filled and in the fridge door. Even with all this prep. I still felt a bit rushed, they didn’t but I did. Next week is a full week, I think I will be exhausted…. haha The lunchbox book looks fab! 

Author: Wendy
Comment: permalink

I always try to pack the lunches when I’m cleaning up after dinner. That way I can put any leftovers from dinner right in the lunch boxes. I don’t always pack everything then, but it at least puts a dent in the lunch prep so I don’t have to do it all in the morning.

Congrats Aimee and Wendy! I’ll be in touch soon.

No lunch box giveaway this week, but please leave a comment and let me know how things are going! What are your best tips for keeping the packing process simple and streamlined?

(And if you’re dying for a giveaway, I posted a pretty nice one yesterday. This one’s for you, moms of babies!)

Happy lunch-packing, everyone, and here’s to keeping it simple!

About The Author


  1. julie
  2. sybil
  3. Shari
  4. susie
  5. Pamela Susan
  6. Lisa Littlewood
  7. Aimee in Or.