When it comes to packing lunches, days of low motivation and lack of inspiration can happen to the best and most dedicated parents. When we are passing through a busy or stressful time, or we’ve reached the last school term, or when our child is passing through a phase of not eating anything, preparing a packed lunch can become a real chore. But some planning and preparation can help us get through this and sometimes even make packing lunches an enjoyable experience.
1. Cook or buy items in advance
Having ready-made food in the fridge, pantry or freezer makes packing lunches so much easier. These can be both homemade or store bought. For eg, I always like to have some Bake and Freeze items in the freezer, some low sugar kids snacks and popcorn in the pantry, and some yoghurt and cheeses in the fridge
2. Have a go-to list
Instead of blanking out when you open that lunchbox to prepare it, have a list of foods that you can refer to and choose from. The best is to draw up this list with the help of your child, but if you don’t know where to start from, you can use this list for ideas.
3. Use leftovers
Get creative with dinner leftovers. This will reduce waste and ensure you are offering something that was a favourite at dinnertime. Leftover chicken can be put in a sandwich or wrap, curry or stew can be put in an insulated food jar, leftover rice or pasta can make a great cold salad the next day...the list is endless.
4. Combine with your meal plan
If you are great at meal planning lunches or dinners at home, incorporate your lunchbox plan with this. Plan meals which can be adapted as packed lunches, and as mentioned in No.3, think of ways in which dinner leftovers can be used up the next day. For example if you planned roast lamb for Sunday, make a lamb kofta on the side and keep this for Monday’s packed lunch.
5. Get children involved
A great way of making sure packed lunches get eaten is to involve your child in the decision making. Have you ever tried asking your child to write or draw what they would like to see in their lunchbox? You can guide them using a list like the one mentioned in No.2, where they can choose an item from each food group. A great tool for turning this into a fun activity, is a Lunchbox Planner. Check out the NEW b.box Lunchbox Planner here.