The kids have been back in school for about a month now, and since then I have been trying to figure out a way to make my mornings easier, especially when it comes to putting their school lunches together.
I’m sharing what has been working for our family and all the school lunch tips that I have been using that have helped me with reducing my stress and that save me time in the mornings!
1. Have your breakfast before the kids wake up
Wake up early and eat your breakfast in peace. No seriously, if you are not already doing this, then you need to do it! I used to wake up when the kids would wake up and try to get them dressed and fed while I was hungry and not fully awake myself, doing this just made me snap at my children and made me impatient. My thinking was to get the kids off to school and then have my breakfast, but I learned that I just don’t do well on an empty stomach. I tried eating breakfast with my children too, but I felt rushed and didn’t enjoy it.
Now, I wake up a few minutes early and have my breakfast in peace, so by the time my kids are awake, I’m not a hangry mama!
2. Preplan as much as you can
I pre-plan most of our lunch and dinner meals on the weekend and do the grocery shopping for the week on the weekend as well. I try to involve my children in this planning process as much as possible by asking them what they would like for lunch during the upcoming school week. My children help me decide on the healthy items and the one not-so-healthy snack item for the week (their favorite part!).
3. Batch cook
Also on the weekends, I try to do as much prep as I can, which includes batch cooking. I usually cook chicken breast in large quantities and then use the chicken in wraps, pasta dishes, and salads throughout the school week. You can do this with ground beef or turkey too!
Our family uses Mina Halal chicken because their products are HMA certified and are grain fed and humanely raised. I usually buy the larger pack of chicken breast and use a couple of these breasts to make dinner for the day and then cut the rest into small pieces. I then cook the chicken in some olive oil with garlic, salt, and pepper and refrigerate it for the school week.
4. Make your dinner your lunch
Make tonight’s dinner your next day lunch by making extra food and saving it for the next day. Bonus tip: use one dish in other ways! For instance, take tandoori drumsticks, you can have the tandoori drumsticks for dinner served with rice, and then shred the meat from the drumsticks and put it in a sandwich for lunch the next day, or you can take the chicken from it and use it as a topping for pizza.
5. Find a container with an ice pack
I used to worry about putting an ice pack in the kids lunch bags because I didn’t want their other food items (like the pasta or rice) to get cold too. This is why I was excited when I found a container that had an ice pack with it- brilliant!
I use this container for when my kids want to take grapes and cucumbers to school, the ice pack helps keep these food items cool.
6. Keep food warmer for longer
To keep your child’s food warmer for longer, put it in a thermos. But to make it even warmer, purchase a steel thermos and rinse the exterior of the thermos with hot water and wipe it down before you put the food into it. This will heat up the thermos and keep the food warmer! Try it, it works wonders!
7. Purchase a container with compartments
Do you know what a huge time waster is? Searching for containers (and their lids that always seem to go missing!) in the morning AND washing those containers after school! This is why I absolutely LOVE using one container that has compartments for other food!
The one below has space for a sandwich at the bottom, and you can also pack the snacks on top.
8. Use reusable bags
I remember trying to look for those plastic sandwich bags for my child’s lunch and then realizing we had run out, I freaked out! Now I buy the reusable bags, which you can use over and over again.
By using reusable sandwich bags, you end up saving money in the long run and these are more environmentally friendly. Plus, you won’t have to worry about running out of those plastic bags! It’s a win all around!
9. Store everything together
Now that we talked about the food containers and bags, we need a place to put them! I have dedicated a cupboard for all of the school items such as the containers, the thermoses, the water bottles, and the reusable bags- having a dedicated space makes it easier for the kids and I to find what we are looking for!
10. Make snack bins
Have a snack bin in the refrigerator, and one in the pantry, for your children to select which snack they want for school. This gives them independence when it comes to making their lunches, as they are free to choose which snack option they want for school that day (or the next day if the school lunches are made the night before).
***Thank you to Mina Halal for sponsoring this post! Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own. I only partner up with companies whose products my family and I use and love, and we certainly love Mina Halal products. Do click here to see where you can purchase Mina Halal products near you!
I hope you find these tips useful! Please do share this blog post with your friends and family members if you found it helpful. Lots of love to you all!