SC Johnson Family Economics Blog
Friday, August 26, 2011

Pack School Lunches Faster and Easier | Family Economics

By Erin

School lunches can be a joy to your child, your child’s teacher and to you. However, when you forget to pack one the night before or forget to pre-package all the goodies for the week, they sure can be a pain!

Here are a couple of ways to make the prepping and packing process as smooth as possible, allowing you to keep the joy in packing lunches:

1.    Make your own mini packs at the start of each week. Set aside half an hour before the week starts, perhaps while you’re indulging in late night TV on Sunday, and prepare all the carrot, apple or raisin packs. Fill them up in small reusable containers, such as Ziploc® Brand Containers, to last the week. Add a few drops of water to each of the carrot containers to keep them moist and add some lemon juice or apple juice to the apples to keep them from browning.

2.    Pack during or after dinner. Get this task out of the way and crossed off the to-do list while you’ve got food on your mind and while you’re in the kitchen.

3.    Schedule your lunchbox washing time. Have two lunchboxes for each person who takes one to school or work. This way you don’t have to run to the store for a back-up if one gets left behind by accident. Set up a cleaning system and communicate it with your family. Perhaps every Wednesday you wash lunchboxes and every Thursday they’ll get their second lunchbox. This will allow enough time for the lunchboxes to dry in-between uses.

4.    Train your kids (and husband) to empty the containers out. There’s nothing like finding Friday’s lunch that turned into a “science experiment” inside a kid’s lunchbox on Sunday night. Get your family into the habit of emptying food from their plastic containers once they return home from school or work.

5.    Freeze baked goods. Make a double or triple batch of your favorite muffins and freeze them. Toss one or two into lunchboxes in the morning and they will thaw in time for lunch. They will also keep other items in the lunch box cool.

What have you found to be the most helpful for packing school lunches and avoiding the “morning rush?”

4 Comments so far

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On Thursday, September 15, 2011, Ludicrous Mama wrote

You can also pre-slice and freeze cheese. I cut them into cute shapes, along with double-thick-cut deli meat to make my own Lunchables, and freeze them in serving-size baggies. For apples, I prefer sloshing the slices in apple juice rather than lemon, since it won't make them taste funny like lemon juice does. (Be sure to drain excess juice, otherwise they get slimy if sitting in it overnight.) In contrast to the 'empty it out' suggestion, I have her bring everything back. I can often reuse uneaten fruits, cheese and veggies for the next day, plus you get to see what they're eating! And if she gets hungry later in the day, I just keep bringing out her lunch leftovers, since she needs to get those food groups in still, clearly! Plus if you use reusable bags/boxes/bento picks/silicone muffin cup dividers/etc, it gets them in the habit of NOT throwing stuff out, which defeats the purpose of reusable stuff, if they forget and toss the containers inside their bag!

On Monday, August 29, 2011, Melissa wrote

I love making PB&J sandwiches a whole loaf at a time and bagging each one in a baggie and freezing them. So easy to just pull one out in the morning and ready by lunchtime.

On Monday, August 29, 2011, Shelia from Houston wrote

I was wondering if I could cut apples ahead of time and use lemon juice to keep them from browning. I'm gonna try it. I have one daughter that loves fresh fruit and veggies so this would cut down prep time in the mornings.

On Monday, August 29, 2011, Amanda from Conway AR wrote

I make PBJ sandwiches for the week and freeze them. They are similar the the Uncrustables but a lot cheaper! I grab one out of the freezer in the morning and they are thawed by lunch. HUGE time saver.

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