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Lunches are hard. Breakfast, no problem. Dinner? Got it. But there is something about lunch for me that is just difficult. I easily fall into the same rut for lunch. “What’s for lunch?” my kids ask. “Sandwiches.” Cue the moans and groans.
I received a great piece of advice several years ago when I began homeschooling (I homeschooled for three years. Now my kids attend the Christian school where my husband teaches and coaches, but that’s a story for another day). I was struggling with the lunch thing and another mom said she just came up with the same 4-5 lunches and that’s what her family had every week. Genius! I immediately began following her advice and it simplified everything about lunch. When we moved and my kids started attending school, I applied the same thought to their school lunches. Easy. And easy is what you need when you’re trying to get three kids out the door in time for school! My kids love to eat at school so we let them choose one day/week to eat there (because paying for three kids to eat at school all the time would get pricey!) which leaves four lunches to come up with. Here’s what it looks like for us:
Monday: Chicken nuggets (We put them in their box frozen and by lunchtime, they’re thawed out.)
Tuesday: Sandwiches (Our school is peanut-free so it’s usually sun butter and jelly for my two youngest and turkey for my oldest.)
Wednesday: Homemade Lunchable (Or do the real thing if it’s easier for your family! But I usually will vary this with Ritz-like crackers, cheese slices, and turkey or ham; sometimes I make mini homemade pizza crusts on the weekend and then pack a couple of those with a mini container of pizza sauce, some pepperonis, and some shredded cheese. I’ll also occasionally send organic blue tortilla chips with salsa and sliced or shredded cheese.)
Thursday: Waffle or bagel (Homemade or store-bought, my kids love Dave’s Killer Bread Organic Cinnamon Raisin bagels)
Friday: Eat at school
So that’s it! We do the same four lunches every week and just add a side or two and you’re done! Here’s a list of sides I keep on hand:
yogurt tubes (I freeze them and they’re thawed by lunch)
fruit (my kids love kiwis, strawberries, grapes, Cutie oranges, bananas, etc.)
vegetables (my oldest loves some sliced cucumber with a side of ranch or a salad or grape tomatoes)
string cheese or Babybels
fruit strip (see picture – I purchase these at Aldi)
I used to send an Honest Kids juice box in their lunch. Everyday. I don’t know why I thought they needed a juice box in their lunch every day. One day a friend of mine mentioned she just sent her kids to school with a thermos of water to go with lunch. Why didn’t I think of that? Less sugar, less money, healthy – so I started doing that, too!
Obviously this would look different for everyone, different families like different foods, but hopefully, this helps lunch packing go a little more smoothly as your kiddos head back to school!
I created a free printable as an easy guide to remember what to pack each day/week. You could even laminate it or put it in a cute frame and write on the glass so you can make adjustments if needed!
Here’s what mine looks like:
Need lunch containers? We bought Sistema’s Lunch Cube, Yogurt Containers, and Salad Dressing Containers
What are your go-to school lunches? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
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