12 Creative Back-to-School Lunch Hacks for Busy Parents
It’s that time of year again. School days are rapidly approaching, and that means preparing lunches are just one of many things you’ll be juggling as a parent. Mornings are hectic enough, without having to worry about what to put in your children’s lunch boxes. These 12 creative back-to-school lunchbox hacks will save you precious time while ensuring that your kids get to enjoy healthy, nutritious meals for lunch!
1. Delegate to The Troops
Children can prepare their own lunches with a homemade station stored in the fridge. The benefit is kids are more likely to eat the foods they choose for themselves. Refill with pre-portioned healthy meals such as:
Veggies and dips
Make after school a breeze too by adding a snack station (more on that later).
2. Put Your Mornings on Autopilot
If you have a habit of leaving lunches to the last minute, get them done before you sit for dinner. Packing lunch boxes, ice packs, and backpacks the night before can save a ton of time during the mornings. And help you avoid a lot of unnecessary stress. Doing it before dinner means you can relax after the evening meal knowing that your morning is ready to go. In the morning put the lunches and ice packs into the backpacks and head right out the door!
3. Grab Your Passports
Make a ritual as a family to try something new each week. It could be a different cuisine like Indian or Mexican, or a new type of fruit or vegetable. Get the kids engaged by letting them pick what they want to experiment with. This can be a fun way to spend time together while expanding their taste buds (and adding more lunch options).
4. Make a Cheat Sheet
Trying to think about new lunch ideas all the time can be tough, so it pays to plan ahead. Make a list of 10-15 different, unique healthy lunches that you know your kids will love. They will appreciate the variety, and you'll enjoy not having to think about it every day.
5. Presentation is Key
Kids are visual and will love it when you make lunches that are colorful, nicely organized, and fun. Some tricks to try include:
Picking different coloured containers each day of the week.
Cutting fruit and vegetables into fun shapes or kebabs with wooden skewers.
Adding themes. You could do it by country, or anything that comes to the imagination.
Use large cookie cutters to turn sandwiches into fun shapes.
6. Infuse Some Personality
Water doesn't have to be boring. Add some flavour to water with citrus juices, pieces of fruit, or herbal teas. These healthy alternatives to juices (which are high in sugar and hard on the liver) can be flavoured with stevia to make them sweeter.
Throw them into the freezer so they can double up as an ice pack, freeing up backpack space. Alternatively, you can freeze fruit into ice cubes.
Hot lunches are perfect for chilly winter days. Soups, leftovers from dinner, and pasta can stay nice and warm until lunch in a good quality thermos. Make soups, pasta, and casseroles in bulk on the weekend when you have more time. Or make extra servings of dinner the night before.
8. From Bitter To Beautiful
No kid likes brown apples. Brushing lemon juice on apple slices to keep them from browning is a well-known trick, but sometimes the tartness isn’t appealing to kids. Instead, brush the slices with orange juice, or add some cut up oranges to keep them from turning brown.
9. That’s A Wrap!
Veggie wraps are great alternatives for sandwiches to switch things up. They can be pre-made at home, or put together at school.
Customize them with whatever your kids prefer. Hummus, salsa, grated carrot, zucchini, greens, black beans, and grilled vegetables are all great options.
10. Pre-packaged With Love
Store bought prepackaged snacks are quick and easy, but they usually are high in sugar, salt, and fats. They are also more expensive than making your own and create a lot of waste.
You can make snacks such as trail mix with unsalted nuts, raisins, and other dried fruit. When prepared in bulk, they only take minutes and are much healthier for your kids!
11. Smoothies On The Go
Fill BPA-free reusable squeeze pouches with applesauce or fruit smoothies, then freeze them. The sky's the limit with smoothies. Check out our Smoothie Pinterest board for lots of inspiration.
12. Outsource Lunch
Want a break from worrying about lunches? Let us help.
Whether it’s one day a week, or 5, we can do the heavy lifting for you. We deliver hot, healthy, and affordable plant-based lunches to schools in Vancouver. You can check out our menu here.