Crafty Chatter in the OC

By Pauline Molinari

Crafty Chatter in the OC

Handy Tips for Making School Lunches

Back-to-school time is here. My niece starts middle school next week, and my daughter starts at the beginning of September. Making school lunches is one of those parent tasks that can be really frustrating. My girl has been in Girl Scout day camp all week, and I have had to pack her lunch

As we all gear up for back-to-school, here are some handy tips from my experience, and from some of great mom blogs, to hopefully help make lunchbox packing easier:

1. The freezer can be your friend

I’ve know many moms to use this trick. Prepare a week’s worth of sandwiches and separate each into sandwich bags and freeze. Pull one out in the morning, and by lunchtime the sandwich is nicely defrosted and fresh and ready to eat. Just keep in mind that depending on what type of sandwich your child likes, some ingredients won’t freeze and defrost well, like lettuce.

Is your child not a sandwich type of kid? Try freezer smoothies! Prepare smoothies ahead of time, freeze in ice cubes. Pop the ice cubes into a thermal drink container and by the time it’s lunch, they will be semi-defrosted and your child just needs to shake up their drink container to blend together. The Food for my Family blog has some really great tips on preparing lunchbox smoothies.


2. Get creative when packaging their lunches

Bento boxes are all the rage when it comes to lunchtime. The whole concept is to compartmentalize each food in one container. You can buy a container with separate compartments, use small plastic storage containers, or divide a bigger container using silicone cupcake cups to divide each food group. The Wendolinablog gives some great ideas about how to make the a great bento box lunch, and unique lunch box ideas.

Keep in mind, a sandwich doesn’t always have to look like a sandwich. You can deconstruct a sandwich to make it more interesting, or separate the protein from the grains. Try rolled up lunchmeat and cheeses, with some whole grain cereal. Or how about some leftover pancakes from breakfast?


3. Keep it fresh

My daughter loves apples, but doesn’t always like to bite into them the traditional way. Somehow the apple tastes better when it is sliced up. The problem? Apples brown when cut into and by lunch she won’t eat it anymore. The Momables blog has some great tips on how to keep apples from browning from citric acid to lemon juice.

4. Create a lunch assembly line

Mornings can be so rushed. We a little prep work, your lunch packing can go seamlessly, and the kids can even get involved. Create a “snack station” in your fridge and pantry filled will a variety of food packed or wrapped in individual servings. Build your lunchbox with a variety of items from each section quickly and easily. Real Simple has some great ideas on what to pack in your “snack stations”. The best part is that this could work for packing lunches and for the kids are at home and are ready for an after school snack. Just send them to the “station” to grab-and-go.

As you can imagination, preparation is key. Set aside time on Sunday nights to prep and prepare lunches and snacks for the week. The time you spend on Sunday night will save you all the time in the world in the mornings.


5. Wrap it up in foil

Does your child crave a hot lunch, like mine does sometime? I’ve been using this trick for years, and it is still a lunchbox standard in our house. I make a hot quesadilla in the morning while I’m making breakfast pancakes for my daughter. While the quesadilla is still hot, I wrap it in aluminum foil and put in her lunch. I’ve also heard of other mothers trying this trick with warmed up corn dogs.


What tips can you share on packing creative lunches? Write them in the comments below.

I’d love to hear them!


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