School Lunches Made Easy

School Lunches Made Easy | Mama Papa Bubba

All school year long, I hear fellow mamas commiserate about one of daily tasks that comes with being a parent of a school-aged child… Packing school lunches. Complaints range from not knowing what to pack, to it adding to the morning rush, to kids not eating the lunches they’re packed and it therefore being a completely thankless task.  I get it.  I do.  …But truth be told?  I actually enjoy packing school lunches.  Like quite a lot.  {Insane, right?} In fact, when Miss G was just starting Kindergarten, I think it was the one thing about school that I was actually looking forward to – hah! 

Here’s the thing…  I think I like making making school lunches because a) Miss G is a fairly decent eater {no magic solutions for picky eaters here unfortunately – picky eaters are hard!} and b) I’ve worked out a system that makes it easy.  {After all, who likes doing difficult, unenjoyable tasks day after day, right?}  So today, I share.  Here are my five tips for school lunches made easy…

IMG 2752

1)  Bento it!  

This one is a game changer and a MUST for easy lunch packing in my opinion.  If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you probably already know that I’m a huge fan {aka hoarder} of bento boxes, because here’s the thing – filling several small compartments with little bits of different foods is so much easier {and less intimidating} than creating a lunch from scratch. {SOOO much easier.}  Bento-style lunches also make it easy to make sure there’s a little bit of everything {protein, fruit, veggies, grains, etc.} included and I find that kids usually love them because of their snacky style.

We’ve tried several different bento boxes, and to date, our very favourite is the Yumbox.  We use the 6-compartment Yumbox for lunchtime and the Yumbox MiniSnack for morning snack.

IMG 2441

2)  Nighttime Packing

Yup, I said it – packing those lunches the night before makes life much easier.  Here’s the thing…  I know that after a long day of kids, activities, housework, errands, cooking, and a bazillion other things, it’s the last you may want to do once the kiddos are in bed and the house is quiet {oh, do I know}.  BUT – it feels so good to just get it out of the way and be able to just pop it out of the fridge and into a backpack in the morning.    Because let’s face it – making lunches when you’re already racing against the clock to make it to school on time sounds like no fun at all.  If I can swing it, my favourite is actually making school lunch while I’m making dinner because I’ve already got all kinds of things out, I’m already in washing and chopping mode, and the kitchen is already a mess.  It’s not always doable with two little ones under my feet, but I love when it is.

Screen Shot 2016 10 02 at 1 40 24 PM

Screen Shot 2016 10 02 at 1 41 32 PM

3)  School Lunch Shopping List

Alright, this is something I just started doing this school year and so far, it’s made my life much easier.  You know how I said that I enjoy making school lunches?  Well, that’s when I have groceries in the house!  Scrounging around for lunch foods when the fridge and cupboards are bare sucks, quite frankly.  So I recently sat down and made a list of foods that I very regularly put in Miss G’s lunch.  The list includes her go-to lunchbox fruits, veggies, proteins, and carbs {plus a couple of treats} and no matter what – even if I totally drop the ball on my meal planning that week {which hasn’t happened yet, touch wood!} – I make sure I go through that list and replenish what we’ve run out of.  And because I’ve been doing our food shopping using Save On Foods online shopping tool recently, it’s extra easy.  I simply click on my ‘School Lunch Essentials’ list, scroll through, and add anything we’re out of to my shopping cart.  Then, as usual, I put the order through and swing by my local store while already out and about and they deliver it to my car – SO easy!

Here’s what’s on our online list currently…

Fruit – apples, bananas, strawberries, grapes

Veggies – carrots, cucumbers, red peppers, snap peas

Protein – eggs, firm tofu, edamame beans, hummus, chickpeas

Grains – Mary’s Organic Crackers, Dave’s Killer Organic Bread, wholewheat  pasta

Treats – Love Child Organics Love Ducks

Does my list mean that Grae’s school lunches contain the same things day after day?  To some extent, yes.  I do try to rotate the fruits and veggies and change things up a little bit with the extras I add, but I also think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a handful of go-to items that you know your kid likes and will eat if they’re nutritious.  And honestly?  If I had a picky eater on my hands, I’d have no issues with sending the same fruit, veggie, protein source, and carb to school each day if I knew she’d eat them and be nourished throughout the long school day {first of all, you do what you’ve gotta do and secondly, experimenting can always be done at home}.

IMG 1206

4)  Batch Bake

While I’m truly all about simple, nutritious lunches {no time consuming cute food here!}, I do like being able to include some sort of homemade goodie in each lunch if I can.  This might be a homemade muffin, a few one-ingredient cheese crisps, mini pumpkin spice pancakes, or some sort of bliss ball or energy ball, but no matter what it is, you can bet that I didn’t make it at night while the actual lunch packing was happening. Instead, I’m all about the batch baking!  I have no real system or schedule, but when I find myself with some extra time or inspiration {usually on a weekend when Brad’s home}, I’ll whip up a few different things all at once, package them up, and freeze them or store them in the pantry.  I also make sure to make a few miniature-sized extras when I’m making things like crepes, pancakes, and egg cups and add them to our stash too.

IMG 3340

5)  Inspiration List on the Fridge

When Miss G was starting Kindergarten last year, I sat down and brainstormed a massive list of foods that I thought would work well in packed lunches.  From that list, I created a school lunch ideas chart, printed off a copy, and hung it on our fridge.  What I didn’t realize was how often I’d use it!  A year later, it’s still exactly where it was and I can’t tell you how often I refer to it after a long day.  It seems silly that I need a page on the fridge to tell me to put a hardboiled egg and melon cubes into my daughter’s lunch, but when my brain is mush and inspiration is non-existent, it saves the day {thank goodness!}

Well, that’s it.  5 simple things that make packing school lunches easy and totally doable, even after a long day.  Now to get to this upcoming week’s meal plan and grocery order. ☺

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Save On Foods, however, all ideas and opinions are my own {of course!}

Are you following us on social media?  Find us on:
Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Pinterest  |  Twitter

We’d love to have you!

5 thoughts on “School Lunches Made Easy

  1. I tried a Bento Box once and although she pretty much ate anything in it, my daughter told me in no uncertain terms that she DID NOT want that again. I’ve gone back to doing cheese, mayo and lettuce wholemeal sandwiches every day, along with a container of some kind of fruit (kiwi and pineapple are probably her fav’s) and some carrot or cucumber in another container. Sometimes I throw in a apple and strawberry fruit chew made out of nothing but fruit concentrate (no sugar) or chocolate bar made from cocao, dates and cashews. It seems to work. I’m going to try and do something again soon and see how she takes it. i LOVE your Bento suggestions and when she sees them, she gets inspired too!!! I love the ideas above. Thank you! :)

  2. Do you put her Yumboxes into a lunchbox or just put them into her backpack for school? I’m trying to find a lunchbox that will fit a Yumbox and am having very little luck.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.