Back to School- The Battle of the Lunches!
This post has been sponsored by Mott’s®. All thoughts and opinions are my own
Back to School Lunches for Mom’s who need to plan ahead and want their kids to take some responsibility too!
Lunches can be a headache, but we have streamlined the process with a dedicated section of the fridge and pantry just for lunches. The kids pick 1-2 items from each bin, and pack their own lunch. I just have to refill the bins each week with things like fruit, veggies, and the NEW 100% Mott’s® Juice Pouches and Mott’s apple sauce cups and pouches.
WARNING: This post is long, but chock full of good stuff , even at the end, so read all the way through so you can make back to school lunches a breeze!.
Checkout additional lunch box solutions at www.buildbetterlunches.com
It is that time of year again, where we entrust our children into the hands of others with the hopes that they will be able to see what we see, love them at least half as much as we do, and return them to us safe and sound, and with more knowledge. I think going back to school is always bitter sweet.
And with the hopes, fears, excitement, and yes…tears, there is always a lot of WORK. Going back to school is a real project. There are things like buying new school clothes and supplies, making sure kids don’t experience too much summer learning loss, and then there is my personal nemesis, daily lunches.
Every year I consider forcing my kids to just eat lunch at school. I know it is not nearly as healthy as if I make and send lunch. I know it is not always the most cost efficient method. But, with 30 minutes of reading, 15 minutes (or more) of French listening, math, science, and other homework, all times 3, the last thing I want to do is pack lunches. Ugh.
Anyone with school-aged kids will agree with me that lunches can be a real headache. No matter how you approach lunchtime, it can be hard to please everyone.
With my kids, we have had years where they buy lunch at school, and years where they pack lunches at home, and years where they do both. And no matter what way we do it, there is always some hurdle, obstacle, or issue to overcome.
One of the biggest being the food itself. What do I pack that is good for them, that they will eat, that will stay good all day, that won’t get old after a few weeks of eating it, etc.? So many challenges.
With the issue of daily lunches on my mind, I have come up with a solution that makes everyone in our house happy. And, I am going to share it with you as it addresses all of the inherent problems with lunch making.
Self-Serve Lunch Bins!
These are bins that are in my fridge and pantry, filled with mom-approved lunch options I pick up at Publix, like the NEW Mott’s 100% Juice Pouches, Apple Sauce Pouches, and Apple Sauce Cups, that the kids get to select from to make their own lunches.
Let’s talk about why I love this lunch solution:
PACKING LUNCH IS NOT MY JOB.
The first part of simplifying lunches is making it a family affair. It is no longer MY job to ensure my kids have a home lunch on the days they don’t want school lunch. Whose job is it then? The child.
If my kid is old enough to be away from me all day, they are certainly old enough to know what they want to eat. Each month I print out the school lunch menu, and post it on my handy kitchen chalkboard. Then the kids have to check it, and pack lunches on the days they do not like what is on it.
Not only does this eliminate me driving lunch to school, or having hungry grouchy kids, it promotes a little extra reading and responsibility, two things every kid can use more of.
MY KIDS WASTE A LOT.
One of the biggest problems I have had with packing a home lunch for my child was seeing all my hard work go to waste when I unpack their lunchbox at the end of the day. They almost never finished everything I gave them, and after sitting in a backpack all day, (sometimes overnight, I admit it), I have to toss the extra.
Letting my children pack their own lunches helps to eliminate this problem because they get to pick what goes in it, so no more excuses like, “But I don’t like that”. They take what they want, but they eat what they take.
MY KIDS NEED VARIETY
My kids just don’t want the same thing every day for lunch. Offering a set of options, even if the options are always the same, gives them freedom of choice.
By approaching lunches this way, there is a variety of choices, I can plan ahead, no one ever goes hungry, and each of my kids can make decisions for themselves about what they are going to eat. It helps shift the responsibility from my shoulders to theirs, and in the process less food is wasted, and everyone is happier, and mornings go smoother.
All I have to do is be sure to refill the bins each week after I grocery shop at Publix.
I don’t really expect my child to wash and chop veggies, or assemble sandwiches. They can help, but what I have found to be more realistic is I fill the bins, they fill the lunch boxes.
Of course, I do a few things to make life easier.
- Printable Lunch Building Guide:
This is something I hang on my fridge as a reminder of how they need to assemble their lunches. I laminated it, and each bin is labeled accordingly.
2. Feel Good Options
I always make sure the bins are filled with things I can feel good about so that it doesn’t matter what they pack.
Now there are more options than ever to find things to fill the bins that I can feel good about. The variety of produce and packaged snacks with wholesome ingredients you can find at Publix is bigger than ever. Sometimes I rotate things in, or look for seasonal options, but I ALWAYS have 100% Mott’s Juice Pouches. They have 1 ½ servings of fruit in each pouch, come in a variety of flavors, and my kids love them! Be sure to check out this print at home coupon offer for $1.00 off the 8PK 6.75 oz Mott’s Juice Pouches on BuildBetterLunches.com, valid 8/30 – 9/29!”
I love all of the different drinks, and apple sauce flavors from Mott’s, and usually keep a variety on hand.
PSA for PUBLIX SHOPPERS:
Buy one get one free on Mott’s 100% Juice 64 oz, Mott’s 100% Juice Pouch 8 pk. 6.75oz and Mott’s Applesauce 6-pack cups. BOGO at Publix, running 8/24-8/30. Also, Be sure to check out this print at home coupon offer for $1.00 off the 8PK 6.75 oz Mott’s Juice Pouches on BuildBetterLunches.com, valid 8/30 – 9/29!
This is a time to stock up kind of deal! Use this store locator to find the PUBLIX nearest you: http://store.publix.com/publix/
3. The Right Tools:
Of course, beyond the bins to fill, and the printable guide to making a lunch, the kids need a few things to make the food stay good, and have it be easy to transport. These are the three things I suggest:
- Insulated lunch box
- Ice Packs
- Lunch containers that are reusable (Bento Boxes)
We have made lunches part of the routine, from filling the bins to assembling lunches in the mornings before school. I know every time I shop at Publix I am going to pick up a case of Mott’s 100% Juice Pouches, as well as Mott’s Apple Sauce pouches. If you want lunches to go smoothly, make it part of your routine.
5. Lists of Options
I like to keep things fresh and fun, and not get stuck in a lunch rut, so I have compiled a list of possible options for bins.
We have 7 basic bins:
- Fruit: Pick 1
- Veggie: Pick 2
- Grain: Pick 1
- Dairy: Pick 1
- Protein: Pick 1
- Beverage: Take a water and a Mott’s 100% Juice Pouch of choice
- Snack/Treat: Pick 1
Bin Ideas: These are my kid’s favorites, obviously, fill your bins with your kid’s favorite items for the highest rate of success with this process:
- Apple slices
- Mott’s Applesauce Pouches
- Mott’s Sauce cups
- Mandarin Orange Cups
- Sugar snap peas
- Carrot sticks
- Cauliflower and Broccoli florets
- Cucumbers: Slices as well as mini cucumbers
- Olives (are these actually a veggie?)
- Whole wheat crackers
- Granola bars
- Pita chips
- Cheese cubes
- String cheese
- Lunch meats
- Roasted chicken chunks
- Nuts (if allowed at your school)
- Roasted chick peas
- Water bottles
- Mott’s 100% Juice Pouches: Apple, Apple White Grape, and Apple Mango
- Corn nuts
- Rice crispy treats
- Fruit Snacks
No matter what you put in your bins, I hope you will prep ahead, and make Mott’s part of your lunch routine, and that it goes as smoothly for you as it does for me!
What is your favorite thing to include in your kid’s lunches?
Pin to your Back to School board on Pinterest!