Mamas, it’s time. Time to pack the lunch boxes!
You may not need inspiration for the first few weeks, but we know that trying to come up with new ideas for the long haul can definitely be a chore. We hope this list from your fellow Northwest Arkansas moms helps make it a little easier.
Mama Pro Prep Tips:
→ If your kid’s lunch contains perishable food (lunch meats, eggs, or yogurt) make sure to pack it with at least two freezer packs. Frozen juice boxes or water can also be used as freezer packs. Just freeze them overnight and use with at least one other freezer pack. Yogurt tubes are also good! By lunchtime, the liquids should be thawed and ready to eat/drink.
→ Get the kids involved in brainstorming lunch box ideas BEFORE you head to the grocery store. Giving them an opportunity to have input should mean they actually eat their lunch (please eat your lunch!). If they don’t suggest anything healthy, tell them you’ll compromise: If you eat this healthy thing, then we can also pack your favorite treat.
→ Much like the Taco Tuesday concept, you can get the kids to help you pack for the coming week on Sunday night. They can wash fruits and veggies or help bag up trail mix with their favorite snacks like pretzels, Chex cereal, raisins, white chocolate chips, etc…
→ Use small containers to prevent your kids’ lunch from getting smashed. It will be so much more appealing if they open up their lunch box to see an un-squished sandwich.
Ideas for what to pack:
→ Use leftovers from dinner the night before. Include sauces or dips to make them more likely to be eaten. Our friend Rhonda sends a “portable taco salad station” in her kid’s lunch box. Just put leftover ground beef (cooked, of course) in a container along with other smaller containers of lettuce, tomato, avocado, salsa (whatever your kids like) to mix up and make a taco salad. You can also pre-combine the ingredients if your kids aren’t too picky. Just be sure to add the crushed tortilla chips in the morning so they don’t get too soggy – or just place them in a separate container to be added to the top of the salad when your kiddo’s in the lunch room.
→ Make your own “uncrustables”. Be sure to put your sun butter/almond butter on BOTH sides of the bread with the jelly in the middle. It will keep the bread from becoming soggy. Freeze the sandwiches overnight and pull them out in the morning. Use cookie cutters for fun shapes. This sandwich sealer has good reviews on Amazon.
→ Roll it up. Add sun butter& bananas/Nutella or ham & cheese or even scrambled eggs and jelly or pepperoni/cheese to a tortilla, roll it up and cut it in the middle. Use a toothpick to keep it together. You can also spread a thin layer of Nutella and sliced strawberries to a tortilla and roll that up or slice into bite-sized pieces. Cream cheese also acts as great “glue” for a tortilla roll-up!
→ Wrap it around. You can also wrap turkey/ham/chicken around cheese sticks or pretzel sticks.
→ You can also make a “sandwich” with Nutella or marshmallow cream on graham crackers.
→ Bake a big chicken breast, dice it up and pop it into lunch containers for the coming week.
→ Our friend, Kristen, likes to add homemade turkey meatballs (with hidden veggies) to her child’s lunch. The recipe: Mix lean ground turkey, breadcrumbs or quinoa, milk, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, your favorite seasonings, shredded carrots and cauliflower pearls. Roll into two-inch balls and add to a greased baking dish. Cook at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
We occasionally partner with Produce for Kids to share recipes here at Motherlode. We noticed they have a great post with lots of lunchbox ideas here.
We hope these tips and ideas helped, mamas! Don’t forget to write a note to stick in the lunch box, too!