Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lunch Box Packing Tips

Around here, school lunches cost $2.00 per child, which isn't bad, and it is certainly easier than packing them. But for two children, that's $20.00 per week! Or, $80.00 per month! So, although I don't relish the chore, this is one way I can save money. I am constantly looking for ways to make their lunches fun and nutritious.

The first step in this process is to take steps to insure that the lunches make it to lunchtime in tact! There have been many days over the years where one of the kids would complain about opening their lunch boxes to soggy sandwiches or mashed bananas. I feel so bad for them. So through learning the hard way, we have come up with these tips:

Invest in an insulated lunchbox with an easy to clean plastic insert of some sort, or form, that keeps the box (and its contents) from being squashed.

Put sandwiches in a plastic container. It not only keeps them from getting squashed, it keeps them from tasting like the plastic wrap (or so I'm told! lol).

Juice boxes are nice treats, but buying drinks in bulk is much cheaper. If you are using refillable drink containers, double-check lids for tightness. We put them in a zip lock--just to be on the safe side. These containers, we purchased at Wal-Mart, but I'm open to other kinds if anyone has a better idea!

Use treat containers. It not only saves on disposable wrap and bags, but it also acts as a portion guide. Believe me, my lunches get inspected thoroughly every morning to detect even the most subtle differences in treat portions!! This size seams to work well and fit well with the other items. Try different things out and see what size combinations fit.

If I'm packing something really messy, I include a wet paper towel in a zip lock for them to clean up when they are done. A mom can hope, can't she?

When packing a home made cupcake, or piece of cake, I've learned to put a few gummie worms or fruit gummies on the top. It keeps the frosting from sticking to the lid--AND adds more cool factor, which translates into kudos for Mom.

Include ice packs to keep drinks and things cool. Wal-Mart has some fun ones in various shapes that are @1-2 dollars. Our favorite ones at the moment are the soccer balls (what else?).

I used to send everything in plastic wrap and zip locks, and pack juice boxes for their drinks. When I transitioned to reusable containers, it took some time to get them in the habit of not tossing their containers in the trash!! In frustration, I began to write notes on their containers in hopes that their friends (and the lunch ladies) would see them and help them remember--and it worked! In fact, the notes became a highlight anticipated by students and staff alike. Talk about pressure for a sleepy mom putting lunches together...

Anyway, here are a few examples:

Roses are Red,

Violets are Blue,

Trash cans are Scary!

Can I stay with You?

Roses are Red,

Violets are Blue,

If you bring me home,

there's a treat just for you!

Hey, we do what we have to do!

In the next couple days, I want to share some ideas for treats. So be thinking of what kinds of things you pack, and plan to share them with us. We can always use new ideas!!

In the mean time, check out This mom posted some great ideas for packing lunches!

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