Best 4 Lunch-Packing Tips

prep the night before

Life is busy. There are various things I've done in the last 9+ years of parenting to smooth out some of the harried edges, like setting alarms on my phone to remind me about half days at school. Or buying toilet paper and tooth paste in bulk. Lunch is a big deal around here, as you can imagine, and making it a smooth sailing thing is critical. Here are our top 4 best time and sanity-saving tips: 

 Pre-prep produce for easy packing. 

Pre-prep produce for easy packing. 

The best thing I've done for peace of mind is pack lunches at night. When we're in the midst of dinner clean up, I take the extra 10 minutes to pack their lunches for the morning. Think about it: the kitchen is still a mess. The dishwasher hasn't been turned on. The timing couldn't be more perfect. I carve out a bit of space on the counter and just get it done. Even for the most organized zen person in the universe (which I am definitely not), school mornings with kids aren't easy. Why add the extra layer of lunch packing into the mix? 

 Simplify! Uncomplicated lunches are delicious! 

Simplify! Uncomplicated lunches are delicious! 

The second sanity-saving lunch tip? Cut fruits and veggies in advance so they're ready to go for those lunches. Naturally, this doesn't work with everything, like bananas or avocados or fruit that needs a few days to ripen. But for oranges, grapefruit, apples (with lemon juice squeezed on top to prevent browning), carrots, cucumbers and celery sticks, it's a godsend. And things like grapes can be washed and ready to go in a second. Talk about a time saver! When I'm in the kitchen cutting one apple, I'll cut four. While I'm cutting those apples, I take the extra 5 minutes to prep something else. 

Third, we absolutely keep it simple for lunches. Lunch doesn't need to be complicated to be delicious. Beyond the basic pb&j, there are loads of straightforward and healthy lunch options available. Here are some of last year's favorites.  

 Let your kids choose their meals. You may be surprised with how healthful and varied they are. 

Let your kids choose their meals. You may be surprised with how healthful and varied they are. 

Finally, there are several reasons why I let my kids plan their own lunches. One of the big ones is that it takes the guess work out of my job. After a long day of work and parenting, I simply don't have the creativity to magically come up with something each kid will enjoy. By letting the kids use the LaLa Lunchbox app to pick their foods in advance (from choices that I've approved and selected), I don't have to reinvent the lunch wheel night after night. I've shopped ahead of time from the grocery list their choices generated, so I have what they want on hand. And here's something fabulous: they feel independent and in control of part of their school experience. The lunch room is a social place. I want my kids to feel empowered there, and this is an easy way to do it for everyone. 

What are your lunch packing tips?