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I hate making school lunches, like more than anything in the world. I would rather drive the kids to school nekkid than make their lunches in the morning.
Purchasing school lunches isn’t an option for Grady because he has Celiac Disease, Madilyn is insane picky, and Styles won’t stand in line for school lunch because it takes too long. That’s all fine and well, but that leaves me no choice but to have three perfectly packed lunches ready by 7am every morning. That’s on top of putting clothes on and pretending like I brushed my hair.
Smart parents make their kids lunches the night before so they have a stress-free morning. I am not a smart parent.
I do; however, have some tips to make the morning lunch packing rush a lot easier, and it doesn’t involve the surgical addition of four more arms. It’s really as simple as knowing what your kids will eat and playing a game of food tic-tac-toe with their lunches every morning while they’re eating breakfast.
I used to pack ALL the things in their lunches, but nothing was getting eaten. There was SO much food going to waste, and nothing makes me wish for empty nest syndrome more than food wasted at the hands of babes. Kyle and I were having a conversation one day about what our parents used to pack us for lunch, and it was pretty basic. Sandwich, fruit, snack, drink. Just three things and a drink. And know what? We were satisfied. I guess I thought I was feeding baby hippos, but I was really just overwhelming my children with the amount of food they were getting.
Madilyn and Grady both have snack time at school and we have to provide the snack, so the rule of thumb is they get three food items for lunch, a drink, and a separate snack that is usually a granola bar of some sort.
Madilyn loves to help make lunches, so we have her play Tic-Tac-Toe to make her own lunches on mornings she has some extra time. She picks one item from each column to make a Tic-Tac-Toe. It’s easy enough for her to follow and she gets to play a game only she can win as she makes her own lunch, which means I’ve won the morning.
There’s really nothing better than winning the morning, right? Which is why I’m sharing the love.
A few things to keep in mind when packing lunches you can feel good about. We almost always have Horizon® products in our pantry. The squeeze pouches have 5 grams of protein per pouch and are an excellent source of calcium because they combine creamy organic milk with real fruit. The Orange Blast Super Squeeze pouch is like dancing through a field of creamsicles. My kids have no idea it’s healthy which is an insane bonus for me.
I’m also a firm believer in the fact that chocolate milk can cure anything, which is why I’m a fan of Horizon® single serve milk boxes. Elementary school can be so hard on kids who are learning to navigate new friendships, learning new and difficult skills, and trying to learn where they fit into the world. I like to think that on days my kids are struggling, they open their lunchbox and smile to see chocolate milk staring them in the face. The Horizon® milk boxes are shelf stable and I no longer have to spend five million dollars at my favorite coffee shop when the kids want chocolate milk because they’ve always got some at their disposal.
I feel like Oprah today. A bonus for you, a bonus for you, a bonus for you! And by bonus, I mean a secret little tip for you. Back in elementary school, my friend Crista’s mom used to write little love notes to her each day. It was always the sweetest thing, and something I carried on to my own children. I used to write little notes to Styles, and now that Madilyn can read, I’m going to write little notes to her too. Something SO simple can really turn a kid’s day around and make them feel loved when you can’t be there to actually give them a squeeze.
To go along with the fun Peanuts The Movie themed packaging going on with Horizon’s products right now, I made some fun printables you can use for your own children’s lunch boxes. Open the file below and use a program to add personalized text to each little card, then print them out to have on hand for packing school lunches.
Or you could just use a sharpie and make them really personal. Grady is going to flip when he sees the Peanuts themed lunch box cards. He’s been absolutely obsessed with Snoopy since he saw the trailer for the movie eons ago. Naturally, when I saw the Charlie Brown sweater at GAP in NYC, I had to have it for him. And OF COURSE he wore it to the theater when we went to see the movie in theaters on November 3. I don’t care if we live in Florida, he was wearing that darn sweater come heck or high water.
Do your kids eat all of their lunch or will you employ my Tic-Tac-Toe rule for packing school lunches?