Episode 95 Back to School Lunches (Even When School is Different)
No matter what school looked like last year, it will be a little different this year. All of us are having to face changes this year and that may affect how we feed our kids lunch. Kendra Adachi would say to embrace the season. Things will look different which means we may have to change our thinking and adapt to our new circumstances.
This week’s podcast talks about several different scenarios for lunch including schools requiring fully disposable lunches, packing lunches to go, and eating lunch at home.
100% Disposable Lunches
Some schools are requiring 100% disposable lunches which means that nothing comes home. Parents have to pack everything in disposable containers. I have seen this most frequently in preschools and daycare centers.
-Think outside the “brown bag.” Can you use other containers to pack the lunch? Consider reusing large plastic containers like yogurt or cottage cheese containers to pack the lunch.
-Look to restaurant supply stores locally or on amazon. Restaurants do take out every day and there are a variety of disposable containers you can buy. Small cups with lids meant for salad dressings can be used for hummus, peanut butter, cereal, or berries. Containers designed for salads can work as disposable bento boxes that you can fill with a variety of foods. Use paper muffin liners to separate the foods in the salad containers.
Packing Lunches To Go To A School Building
-I have two podcasts that talk about lunch.
Episode 39 Lunchbox Tips for Back to School. This podcast has great information about my blue lunch bin and how to use a thermos.
Episode 12 Let’s Talk About Lunch has lots of lunch tips for busy families.
-I always recommend having your kids bring EVERYTHING home from lunch. Everything in the lunch box comes home. This includes their trash. This allows you to see what is being eaten, you can reuses uneaten items which cuts down on food waste. You can pack better lunches because you see how much your child really eats. It also ensures that you get all your containers back.
-Send metal utensils. It is so much easier to eat with a metal fork than a plastic fork. You can get inexpensive silverware at garage sales, estate sales, or the dollar store.
-Get a lunch bin. I have a blue plastic bin that I use for lunches. In the evening I fill it with all the items for the following day’s lunches. If it is food that needs heating, I put it in microwaveable glass containers. All the cut-up fruit and veggies are in baggies or containers too. The next morning all I have to do is take the items from the lunch bin and put them in the lunch bags. It saves digging around the refrigerator and my kids know that food in the lunch bin is off limits for snacking.
-Put foods that are okay at room temperature in the lunch bags in the evening. Things like peanut butter sandwiches and crackers can sit in the lunchbox overnight. I also put in a napkin and any utensils they will need for lunch the next day.
-If your kids are little, make sure they are able to open all packages and containers. As a lunchroom volunteer I carried a pair of scissors to help kids open yogurt tubes, granola bars, and so much more. If your child has a hard time opening a package, consider putting a pair of scissors in their lunchbox.
Lunch at Home
If you have kids distance learning at home or are homeschooling this year lunch will be at home. There are several things to consider for at-home lunch.
-Is the entire family going to eat lunch together at the same time or will each person eat when it works for their schedule?
-Would it be wise to switch your “big meal” of the day to lunch?
-Do you want to continue “packing” a lunch in the evening so the kids can just pull it out of the refrigerator at lunch time?
-What can you do to make your kids as self-sufficient as possible?
-Pre-cut and washed fruits and veggies are easy for kids to add to their lunches.
-What foods can you prep ahead for easy lunches?
I am not a fan of huge weekend prep sessions, but I can cook a double or triple batch of something earlier in the week to re-purpose for lunches. One of my favorite things to make ahead are these turkey meatballs from Smitten Kitchen.
Lunches may look different, but these ideas can help you embrace you current situation and manage lunches with ease.
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Marie Fiebach is a married mother of four active kids. She helps busy families plan and execute weeknight dinner so they can recapture a little calm in the crazy. You can see her every week on KAKE TV’s Good Morning Kakeland or listen to the Feed Your Family Tonight Podcast.