Getting your kids ready, let alone yourself, can be stressful in the morning! To cut a few things off your morning to-do list, prep and pack lunches ahead of time to make lunch box routines a breeze!
Here are ten lunch packing tips to help get you started:
1. Make a list. Sit down and write a food plan for the week. You can browse the Internet for new ideas or subscribe to a school lunch planning service. From there, you can create your shopping list.
2. Shop over the weekend. You can then come home and prep a lot of your lunch items, saving time that you would have spent wondering what you can use in your refrigerator that day.
3. Wash all your produce at once. As soon as you get home from the store, fill your sink with water and produce cleaning solution (like water and vinegar). Let your fruits and veggies soak for 10 minutes, scrub, and rinse. They will be clean and ready for when you need to pack them.
4. Food-prep your produce. After you wash your produce, chop, cut, and dice it up. Then store everything in airtight containers. Exception: don’t wash your berries until the last minute.
5. Hard-boil your eggs. Eggs are delicious, portable, and filled with nutrition! Prepare them ahead of time, and you can put them in wraps and salads or whip up an egg salad in a couple of minutes.
6. Bake ahead. Do you know you can use your cupcake pan to make little meatloaves, quiches, spaghetti nests, carrot muffins, or ham and cheese muffins? Bake single-serve items over the weekend, so you can freeze and pull them out when you need a quick lunch box fix.
7. Assembly line packing. Instead of packing each lunch individually, consider placing all of your items on the counter and filling your lunchboxes assembly-line style to save time.
8. Blend and freeze. If you have smoothie fans at home, make all the smoothies for the week at once, pour them into individual cups with lids, and freeze. Each morning, pull a sealed smoothie out of the freezer and pack inside an insulated lunch bag. It will thaw to a smoothie consistency by lunch. Bonus: no ice-pack needed.
9. Freeze your dairy. Prevent soggy cheese and warm yogurt simply by freezing them the night before. Just like the smoothies, they will be thawed out by lunch!
10. Prep & freeze your fruit. Fruits like mango, pineapple, grapes and orange slices freeze very well. I like to save prep time by sticking them in the freezer and having them ready to pack. Berries also freeze well, so buy them on sale when they’re in season, and freeze for smoothies!
For more ideas, visit Momables.com.
Laura Fuentes is the Founder of MOMables. A school lunch meal planning service that helps thousands of parents pack fresh lunches for their kids.