School mornings are so hectic around my house, that anything I can do to get out the door faster is helpful in my book. Of course, we all know that lining up school clothes and shoes the night before is a good idea. So are placing backpacks by the side door and packing lunches the night before.
We've heard that advice many times over; but what if you are like me and are often inconsistent when it comes to being prepared? Well, I'm here to tell you that there are some things you can do to help you pack those lunches a little faster, without resorting to less-healthy processed foods.
1. Keep a stash of sandwiches in the freezer.
Food companies figured out that some parents want the convenience of ready-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The problem is, they not only cost a lot more per sandwich, but you also don't get to control the type of bread and ingredients used.
An easy solution is to make your own "uncrustables" and freeze them. Click here for or a full tutorial.
2. Have pre-made fresh fruit cups in the fridge.
Left to their own devices, kids will often leave a whole apple or piece of fruit uneaten inside the lunch bag. I've had many bananas come home because they were too "mushy" by lunch. I like to pre-make fruit salad and divide it into single-serve lidded cups. To keep the fruit from browning, I add a 50/50 water and lemonade (or pineapple juice) mixture into the cup.
3. Make veggie cups ahead of time.
Kids love to dip their veggies, and we parents love it when they eat them without a fuss. One way to make veggies super convenient is to prep veggies inside a cup with their favorite dip, dressing, or hummus. You can buy pre-chopped veggies to save even more time!
4. Turn plain yogurt into a healthy dessert-like treat.
Yogurts can be a convenient and nutritious lunchbox item, but many yogurts have a lot of added sugars and artificial sweeteners to give it more flavor and kid appeal. You can give plain yogurt a dessert-like taste by adding a little maple syrup, peanut butter and a few drops of stevia, or just top it with a few mini chocolate chips. Place the yogurt into a thermos so you can pack it at a moment's notice.
The key to making lunch-packing simple is to assemble some healthy grab-and-go options. When nutritious, homemade foods are just as convenient as packaged items, lunches can be fresh, healthy, AND bursting with kid appeal.
Laura Fuentes is the founder of MOMables where she helps parents make fresh school lunches and meals their kids will love. She's the author of The Best Homemade Kids' Snacks on the Planet and The Best Homemade Kids' Lunches on the Planet. Download a free week of Laura's Classic and Grain Free Meal Plans here.