It’s almost that time of year – summer is flying by and that lunchbox is sitting over in the corner just taunting you. I don’t know many parents who relish packing lunch every morning only to have half of it come back at the end of the day. This fall marks the first year that all three of my children will be heading to school with lunchbox in hand. There’ll be enough to stress about and packing lunch should not be one of them…
Our top ten tips and tricks from House of Bedlam for packing your kid’s lunchboxes:
1) All about assortment – Try to include a choice of major food groups in every meal. A balanced lunch and a healthy snack will help fuel your child throughout the school day.
2) Think outside the bread box – Changing up the bread really makes a difference. Wraps, pretzel rolls, pitas and even pancakes are all great options. See our PB&J Pancake Sandwich below.
3) Make it a muffin – Kids love muffins; instead of a sandwich pack a few mini muffins. Think savory, instead of sweet, like carrot or zucchini. Make ahead and keep in the freezer until needed. Add some protein such as a hard-boiled egg or some cheese.
4) Love your leftovers – Pack leftovers straight into mini containers to be used for lunch later in the week. Just pack a plastic fork and you’re done.
5) Buy in bulk – While convenient, the price of those cute little snack packs add up. To help curb costs, buy your child’s favorite snacks in bulk and prepackage in small reusable containers. Let your kids do the packing, it’s a great way to involve them in preparing their own lunch.
6) No mushy fruit – Make sure fruit is dried completely after washing and pack it loosely in a paper towel or a napkin. Squeeze fresh lemon on cut-up fruit, to combat browning and keep fruit looking fresh and appealing. Or pack fruit that requires no cutting, ex. bananas, apples, plums, or tangerines.
7) Very easy veggies – Small bite size veggies are perfect for lunchboxes. Pick kid favorites, such as grape tomatoes, snap peas, carrot sticks, edamame. Frozen vegetables (ex. peas or carrots) work just as well. Have small containers on hand packed in the freezer, they will be thawed by lunchtime.
8) Dainty dessert – a small dessert, be it a cookie, piece of chocolate, or some dried fruit is a must, but keep it small.
9) Container is key – Most kids hate the idea of foods mixing together so keep food compartmentalized. If you don’t have individual containers, find a bento style box that will fit into your child’s lunchbox. Giving kids the option of different choices, in small portions works best.
10) Prep prep prep – if your house is anything like mine in the morning, there’s barely enough time to shuttle kids out the door, much less pack a lunchbox. Do as much as you can ahead. Stick to foods that can be packed the night before and kept refrigerated in lunchbox. In the morning just grab it and go!
Recipe by Elaine Studdert of House of Bedlam.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for coating skillet
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons jelly
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a small bowl, mix buttermilk, egg, melted butter, and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until just combined.
- Heat a griddle to medium high heat and lightly coat with butter. Pour batter onto hot griddle, approximately ¼ cup per pancake. Cook about 2-3 minutes, until small bubbles appear on surface and bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook other side about 2 minutes.
- Let pancakes cool completely. Spread approximately 1 teaspoon each of peanut butter and jelly between two pancakes, cut in half and pack ‘em up.
And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 7): “I like it without the stuff in it”
Liam (age 5): “mmmmmmm, tastes like ham & cheese”
Dylan (age 5): “I’ll have another!”
Obviously, the “stuff” inside can be tailored for your child’s tastes. Happy Packing!