I have always been happy to not have to pack lunches the night before a school day, since we just eat here 99.9% of the time. No making sandwiches and stuffing into baggies. No remembering to load up lunch boxes in the morning. Yes, I was happy to think less every evening and morning.
BUT, lunch time has been such a hassle lately. Everyone is SO done with school by then (and by done, I mean with their attitudes…not always done with actual work!). Usually the boys have started teasing each other. Someone has cried. OK, like five of us have cried by lunch time. And my patience is GONE!
I read a guest post by Sherry Hayes over at Free Homeschool Deals (LOVE that site/blog!) about using lunch boxes in your home school. I laughed at first because this woman has 15 children, so of course she should use lunch boxes to cut down on lunch prep! And then the more I thought about it, the more I really understood how awesome her idea was. Imagine the time I could save if the lunches were made THE NIGHT BEFORE!
I remember my mother making our lunches the night before and our brown bags or lunch boxes sat on the counter all ready to pack with whatever refrigerated item(s) first thing in the morning, so we could quickly get out the door. I ALSO remember when we were old enough to make our own sandwiches and she’d encourage us to get it ready the night before…and then we didn’t, and we were scrambling around in the morning trying to throw our lunch together. I ended up with lots of cheese and mayo sandwiches, I am sure of it! 🙂 Good thing I liked them.
This past Monday, I finally decided to give lunch boxes a try. There was one problem…We don’t own any lunch boxes! The kids always ask for some during all the beginning of the school year sales, and I always shut that down. Ten dollars (if you’re lucky) a lunchbox….no way! I’d rather save my $50 and order some good pizza for dinner! Even without actual lunch boxes, I was able to find some food storage containers big enough to pack a little lunch in. I should have made this on Sunday night, but since Sunday nights are rough around here I waited til Monday morning to put this together.
My boys watched while I made 5 sandwiches (some PB&J, some just J, some PB&honey), put some little crackers in baggies, some nuts and dried fruits, some yogurt or cottage cheese in smaller containers, and even 5 mini candy bars left over from Halloween. I mean, you can’t have a lunchbox without a dessert!
This is Ethan’s lunch. He snuck a nibble of his bread before I could package the sandwich. 🙂 The small container has his cottage cheese. So fun!
The kids were so excited to eat how “regular” schoolkids do. They grabbed their box and their water bottle from the fridge and sat to eat and chat. I made a comment about no talking badly about their teacher during lunch. And as soon as I walked away, one of the girls said, “Our teacher is so lame.” 😉 Even little Ethan had a good time with his lunchbox. He thought he was hot stuff, sitting there opening everything up like the big kids.
That post was super helpful with ideas for what to put in the boxes. On Wednesday, we had our first day this week of leftovers from dinner. It was chicken taco soup. I packed the boxes with everything but the soup and just warmed that on the stove, dishing it out as they sat and opened their boxes. Easy peasy! It really has made lunchtime smoother. No arguing about who is having what, no order taking. Everyone knows it is already packaged, and they are still excited (granted, it has only been five days!) to see what I’ve packed them. I have started packing them at night because it makes more sense, especially for mornings like yesterday when we had our mom group at church at 9:30, and I was responsible to bring a food dish. I was so glad to have lunch already figured out, and the kids were able to just sit right down and eat when we got home at noon!
It was a fun experiment this week, and I think we’ll keep it as a regular thing. Guess I don’t have to have 15 kids to need a time-saving idea!