As you get ready to send the kids back to school, we're trying to both speed up your mornings and help parents think outside the box when it comes to your child's lunch box. Preparing a quick lunch doesn’t mean that everything has to be pre-packaged either — by using a few of these lunch hacks you can speed up your prep time, and still feel like you’ve succeeded in giving your child a good meal.
Most children won’t have access to a microwave at school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t freeze a portion of their meal. The reason? It bypasses the need for a bulky ice pack that can crush some items, or cause a ton of sweat inside a lunch box.
Juices and mini water bottles are great items to freeze because they’ll thaw by the time lunch time arrives. Some bloggers even recommend freezing a number of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches — you may not want to send your child to school with a PB&J every day, but they’ll last in the freezer for a long time so you’ll only make a batch once in awhile instead of every day.
LET KIDS PICK THE MEAL
Your child might be more excited about their lunch if they take part in making it — that’s why plenty of parents are creating an easy prep system that insures that your child is getting the food you want them to, while also allowing them to choose their meal.
Here’s an idea: dig up an old shoe rack, or snag one at a yard sale, and color code it. You can use the rack to place apples, bananas, pre-bagged pretzels, yogurt tubes, crackers, chips, fruit snacks, fruit cups and whatever other items you like to send your kid to school with. Then you work out a system where they’re allowed to pick a select number of each “color” for their meal. This insures they’re not overeating, but also that they’re choosing the meal they’re most likely to eat — no need to worry about swapping meals with other school kids.
For an example of what a finished product looks like, check out this website.
PRE-PACK CHIPS, PRETZELS, CRACKERS
This hack is aimed at saving you money, but also saving your child the pain of opening a bag of snacks that have been crushed during the school day.
Parents know that purchasing a family-size bag of chips will cost a lot less than buying individual bags, but the downfall is that they’re likely to get smashed. If you blow air into the bag you’ll ensure the items don’t get smashed, without spending $1 on $.25 worth of snacks.
FROZEN FRUIT CUPS
Looking for an easy way to get more fruit into your child’s diet? If your purchase a number of fruits and freeze them in muffin cups you can send your child to school with a unique fruit cup that, similar to the frozen sandwich/juice hack, will thaw by lunch time.
What makes this hack great is that you don’t have to worry about the fruit going bad if you buy in bulk since you’re planning to freeze the items once you buy them. You can make a number of snacks on a single day and use them for the next several weeks.
For a better look at this hack check out POPSUGAR.
HOT CHICKEN NUGGETS
If you think it’s impossible to send warm food, think again. Sure you’ve thought of an old-school thermos for soup, but have you considered sending hot chicken nuggets with your child to school?
It’s possible, and while we’re at it… let’s not forget that once you have a thermos you can send anything from cold milk to hot soup to go with meals.
CONDIMENTS TO GO
I’ve read just about everything online on how to deliver condiments to your child — from hoarding restaurant sauce packets to using contact cases. You can also invest in something small, and sealable, online.
We mentioned earlier that buying things that are pre-packaged will run up your cost — if you mimic some of those pre-packaged foods you’ll notice that it doesn’t cost as much, and you can find fresher ways to build a lunch.
What kid doesn’t like lunch meat, cheese and crackers? How about the holy grail of Lunchables, the build-you-own pizza?
If you’re worried about spilling pizza sauce, or items getting soggy from touching don’t forget that you can find items like Glad Press’n Seal which will separate compartments and allow you to build your own lunch sets for children.
SMOOTHIES FOR KIDS
Drinks and apple sauce aren’t the only food items that can double as ice packs — over at Momables they’ve come up with an idea to create smoothies and send them partially frozen to school.
The best part? You can make these a few days in advance. Check out the tutorial ‘how-to’ video, here.