Please tell me that I am not the only one that hates packing school lunches.
Everyone says you should pack lunches the night before, but I’m exhausted at night. And every last bit of energy I have is spent cleaning the kitchen and folding laundry so we have clean dishes and clothes in the morning.
I’ve tried packing lunches in the morning before the bus comes, and sometimes that works. But more often than not, I’m rushing the kids onto the bus and telling them to buy lunch.
A New Lunch-Packing Routine
Two years ago, we got into a new lunch-packing routine that really works.
No packing lunches in the evenings.
Very little work in the mornings.
And – even better – the kids are able to do it themselves. Even my youngest!
Here’s How it Works
As part of our Sunday routine, the kids join me in the kitchen for a lunch-packing session.
Note: you’ll need to get your weekly groceries before packing lunches for the week. This is actually a little side bonus to our routine because it forces to to have groceries in the house before the weekend.
I set out all of the items that they typically like to have in their lunches. This usually includes pretzels, popcorn, crackers, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, cheese and fruit.
Each kid gets a basket that will hold their lunches for the week. (More on that later).
And then they start packing.
Usually, my kids bring their lunch four days a week and get to buy one day of their choosing. So they prep lunch for four days.
So, this means that my daughter usually has four yogurts in her basket, four hardboiled eggs, four containers of strawberries, four slices of cheese, etc.
Sometimes I need to assist, but usually they’re able to do it all independently. But be warned, it will definitely take a longer time than if you just do it yourself (especially at first).
I’m okay with it taking a little longer because I’ve found that I’m a whole lot less grumpy when I know my kids are pitching in and learning skills that will (eventually) help them contribute even more.
While they make lunches, I use the time in the kitchen to prep meals for the week and write lunch notes.
By the time we’re finished, each child has a basket of cold items plus some baggies. We store the baskets in the fridge for the week (one for each child), and the baggies go in the snack drawer.
Some of my kids don’t like to eat sandwiches. Some of them do. NONE of them like their sandwiches to be cold or soggy, so we whip those up each morning (which really does only take a minute.)
Do THIS Every Morning
Each morning, the kids know that it is their responsibility to fill up their water bottle, take their cold things out of the fridge, grab their dry snacks, and pack their own lunch.
It’s part of their routine cards which you can read about here.
With most of the work done in advance, this is a quick and easy process that requires very little of my attention. (Although I do add the lunch note at the end.)
When the kids get home from school, part of their routine is to empty their lunchbox and put their icepack back in the freezer so it’s ready for the next day. (Yes, this is also on their routine cards.)
A Few Things to Note
Once this becomes a regular part of your Sunday routine, you will start to love it.
We usually play fun music and spend some time in the kitchen together. It forces me to prep for the week, cut up vegetables and have healthy snacks ready to go.
And – like I mentioned – I’m a lot less grumpy every morning (and every night) when I’m not slaving in the kitchen thinking about how my kids should be helping more.
Every now and then we get off track (especially just before and after school breaks), but once I get back in the groove, I’m so much happier!
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