Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lunchtime Fun!!

I don't know about you, but one of the things I dread the most about Back to School is making school lunches.  I don't know why, but I have always hated thinking about what my kids will be eating for lunch at 6:30am.   It's not like we don't each lunch during the summer, but I guess I can just "wing it" a bit more throughout the summer and can pull something together on a whim versus thinking through a nutritious, easily
packable lunch.

I have tried everything to make this process easier and I think I have it down....or as much as possible.  Last January during my series called "Operation Organization" I shared my pantry re-do to help organize the kids' snacks.   Click HERE to see it.   Well throughout the summer as we were throwing random snacks in  our beach bags and packing up for a full day of fun, our snack drawers became crazy and needed some TLC.

Here is what they look like now...

His snacks....

Her snacks...

Small snack sized bags or pre-packaged small bags of snacks for both of them to choose from.  I mixed all of their salty and sweet together and these two baskets sit side by side in the cabinet.
As will all of my organizing project, I took everything out first and then decided what was worth keeping and what needed to go. (think half eaten bags of pretzels, bags of cookies filled with sand from little sandy fingers) Then I restocked it.   The back baskets holds all of their open containers of snacks for ME to use to refill the front baskets.  The front baskets hold small bags of various snacks or snacks that are already small that make packing lunches easier.  The kids are allowed to pick their snacks for the day out of the front baskets for me to pack.  They get to help and then they know what I'm packing.  They have to stick to the front drawer now though so we don't go back to the mess these were throughout summer.   I will restock it weekly after grocery shopping and I have a similar basket going in the fridge for their cold snacks.

Here was my inspiration...left photo is items to stay in the fridge, right is items for the pantry.

Here are some other fun ideas to store your lunch items if you don't like this one.

This mom uses a tray with 3 separate sections for her 3 children and she has a total of 5 trays so she can pack an entire week at one time.

This mom separates her children's snacks into 2 separate baskets of salty an sweet.

This mom preps everything for the week as well and she packs all of the veggies and fruits in small containers and stores them in the fridge in a container solely for school lunches.

While this worked great last year, I still wanted more.  I wanted to wake up and not think about what to pack.  I wanted containers to pack it in that wouldn't be too hard to open, wouldn't spill, would insulate hot and/or cold food, and something fun.   

So.....I hit Pinterest.  Here's some things I found that I'm putting to use.

A great planner to plan out each child's weekly lunch requests.  I do find that when I ask my children what they want and I give them what they want...they actually eat it.  Who knew?  Lol

This planner is great because you can print more than 1 child/page and it has enough room for a total of 12 days/child.   

In addition to planning ahead, I love this idea of having a "go-to" list of snacks and lunches for the kids to either choose from or for you to suggest.  I don't want to fall into the rut of having the same lunch every single day if we don't have to.  This mom taped her list right inside her cabinet.  Genius!   I love that space that the inside of the cabinet adds in the kitchen!

And here are a few links to find some great lists of snacks and/or lunch ideas other moms have used and some pictures of some of their lunches...look good to me!  (Just click on the link below any picture to find the list)

So now the question is, where did all of these great containers come from?   School lunches have their own little club of people who design the most incredible lunches for their children.   Thank goodness my children don't sit near these supermom's children because I just could never do it.  I hate cooking and everything closely related to it.  I do it for survival and that's it!

Take a look at some of these....besides being incredibly creative, one thing they have in common is fun containers!

And the QUEEN of bentos who shares every tool and container she uses each time ....this is not her most creative, but such a great snack or lunch!  She has a dedicated area on her blog specifically for bentos.  Amazing stuff, but I'm still not giving in to doing this...lol

While I don't have any desire to model these incredible lunches (although I'd be fine with someone doing it for me...any volunteers?), I had major container envy.   I didn't want to get all new things since my containers from last year are great, but I wanted to add a few things.

These are the containers I mentioned last year and that I still love from ToysRUs...and they are on sale now too.  They work great and model a bento of sorts with 2 separate containers.  (Click on the link below the photo to find them).

I also found these containers that include the ice pack in the lid when we went to Disney last year.   If you remember my son has tons of food allergies so we always travel with food and since Disney can be so hot and humid, these worked great.  We will be putting them to use for school lunches as well.

Here's a few other great containers....

Similar to ours with an extra compartment...

Pottery Barn has joined the bento show and come up with their own version...

I mentioned these last year too and they are currently sold out until late September so they must be pretty good in my eyes...

And Ziploc is getting smart too...here is their version...

As I said, I invested in a few new things...

These silicon baking cups are multi-functional.  You can make cupcakes in them OR use them to hold small items in your child's lunch as seen in some of the photos above.  I'm hoping to pack these the night before and have them ready to go and drop in.  I don't think I'll pack fruit for the entire week, but one night at a time I can manage!

I am most excited about these containers to make smoothies for my son.  They will be just the right consistency by snack time and he will be very excited to eat from them.

I almost gave in and got these, but I am more of a functional girl that fancy when it comes to school lunches, but I think these are the cutest thing ever.   Amazon.com has tons of cookie cutters, egg molds, etc. to make lunches fun!

If all of this creative lunch talk has your head spinning...I'm with you.  Here's an easy way to add a little fun to your little one's lunch with no work at all.   What child doesn't love a personalized note or another surprise in their lunch?  Ok...maybe my soon to be 5th grader, but most do.  Here are some great ideas to do just that and some free printable lunch jokes and/or notes.  

Although packing school lunches can be a boring and tedious job, hopefully some of these ideas will make it a little more fun for both you and your children.

Poshed Up

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