Friday, September 18, 2015

How to Pack a Week's Worth of School Lunches...In One Day

My kids take packed lunches from home to school nearly every day. I could count on one hand the times they bought lunch at school last year. Lucy and Penny would love to buy lunch at school more, but Mom and Dad want them to eat healthier food than what is offered in the cafeteria.

While my daughters take their lunches daily, I pack lunches weekly. In other words, every Sunday I make 10 lunches and stack them in the fridge (Monday and Tuesday in the upstairs main fridge; Wednesday-Friday in the downstairs bonus fridge). It is always such an accomplishment to see a week's worth of lunches labeled with name and day of the week (Lucy George, M; Lucy George, T, Lucy George, W...) and ready to go. 

People ask how I do it.

It's so easy.

You will see.

One question I get a lot: Don't the sandwiches get soggy or dry?

Nope. My kids don't require condiments. And one trick I found is to layer the cheese on both sides of the bread and place the "wetter" deli meat in between the cheese. I asked my kids if their sandwiches are ever dry and they said "no." I credit this to the containers I use. (Go to Amazon and type in

I am also strategic about when my kids get sandwiches -- typically just on Monday and Tuesday, so the sandwiches are relatively "fresh." The girls would get bored with a sandwich every day, anyway. Later in the week, my kids will get items that hold up better for longer in the fridge. Examples: chickpea salad, tomato-quinoa salad, and meat and cheese and crackers.

How do you store 10 lunches?

Again, it's all about the containers I use. My EasyLunchBoxes stack neatly on top of each other in the fridge. It also helps that we have an overflow fridge.

Some might wonder if my kids are getting a bunch of packaged junk.

I strive to include no more than two packaged goods per lunch. Ideally, it's one or none. And I read labels. High fructose corn syrup is not my friend. There is always at least one fresh fruit or vegetable, but often two. My favorites to pack: blueberries, strawberries, grapes, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots and red pepper slices.

Sometimes friends say "Well, it's easy enough to throw together lunch in the morning." Sure it is, if I want to skip the gym to pack lunches, which I do not. Plus, some mornings are crazier than normal if Jeff or I happen to be away on a business trip. I'll take my Sunday morning assembly line of Bento-style lunch boxes and get the job done. That's how I roll.

Below are 11 examples of recent lunches -- packed for Lucy and Penny for the short Labor Day week and this past week. Just to give you some inspiration going into the weekend. Why don't you give it a try? Get your shopping done today or Saturday and spend an hour packing a week's worth of lunches on Sunday.

Let me know how it goes and what you pack in your kids' lunches. I'm looking for inspiration, too!


How to Pack a Week's Worth of School Lunches...In One Day

Penny: Half of a PBJ sandwich on wheat, GoGo organic applesauce, tomato-quinoa salad and grapes. (Note: I will add avocado and make tomato-avocado quinoa salad only for the next-day's lunch; otherwise, the avocado goes bad.)

Lucy: Half of a PBJ sandwich on wheat, GoGo organic applesauce, grapes, sliced red peppers and Laughing Cow cheese.

Lucy/Penny: Turkey and Swiss cheese hot dog bun "sub", pretzel crisps, cherry tomatoes, Babybel cheese and grapes.

Penny: Turkey and cheddar tortilla wrap, chocolate cat cookies from Trader Joe's and cucumber (from our Tower Garden) with blue cheese dressing. (Note: The lids to these containers keep contents from spilling into other compartments, so while the dressing might get all over its own compartment it won't spill into others.)
Lucy/Penny: Turkey and cheddar hot dog bun "sub", chocolate cat cookies from Trader Joe's, grapes, sliced red peppers and cherry tomatoes.
Penny: Pita crackers from Trader Joe's, sliced red peppers, Laughing Cow cheese, grapes and tomato-quinoa salad.

Penny: Organic, unsweetened applesauce, pita crackers from Trader Joe's, cherry tomatoes, Laughing Cow cheese and Mom's chickpea salad.

Lucy: Salami and provolone pack from Trader Joe's, sliced red peppers, cherry tomatoes, grapes and pita crackers from Trader Joe's.

Lucy/Penny: Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, Babybel cheese, organic and unsweetened applesauce, pimiento cheese and multi-grain crackers.

Lucy/Penny: Baby carrots, LARA bar, Babybel cheese, cherry tomatoes and Craisins.

Lucy/Penny: Hummus, cherry tomatoes, cheese stick, baby carrots and multi-grain crackers.