Lunch Box Meal Prep

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Stonyfield® Organic. All opinions are entirely my own.

Streamlining our Mornings

Mornings used to be one of the worst parts of the day for our family.

I would have daycare children arriving before my daughter was even awake, and then would have to balance trying to get her ready and keeping her “on task” with getting them breakfast and keeping all the grumpy non-morning children from spreading their grumps around.

Late mornings meant dragging multiple children into the school office with me to sign her in late, which was always complete and utter chaos.

After a lot of experimenting to find systems that worked, we’ve finally come across a morning routine that really works for us.

The thing that was missing in our mornings was connection.

I spent the whole morning trying to achieve a goal of getting her ready for school (which she spent the morning resisting), and while I woke my daughter up with kisses and cuddles, the rest of our morning routine was pretty devoid of anything even resembling connection.

My goal switched to focusing on how I could build our mornings to focus on connection, while allowing us to be on time for school.

To do this, we also streamlined our morning tasks:

  • picking out clothes the night before (picking out all outfits on Sunday would be even better, but that didn’t work for us)
  • meal prepping healthy lunches that we can grab-and-go 3 days at a time instead of adding an extra task to our mornings
  • simple breakfasts, ready before she wakes up (no asking what she wants and adding an extra task during that one hour between her waking up and getting out the door)

Back to School Lunch Box Prep

This system allows for us to quickly get her dressed, teeth brushed and face washed, she helps grab her lunch items, and  eats breakfast while I read the kids a story, followed by some cuddle time before we head out the door.

Meal prepping is huge for our morning success, and I even have a container system that helps simplify this process.

I use 3 containers – one in the fridge and two in a low cabinet:

  • Fridge container: healthy snacks, either grab-and-go or pre-portioned
  • Cabinet container: juice boxes, water bottles, pre-portioned green smoothie powder
  • Cabinet container: shelf-stable snacks, grab-and-go or pre-portioned

I also make 3 lunches at a time and have them ready-to-grab in the fridge. I find that making lunches more than 3 days in advance can lead to soggy lunches, so three has been our “sweet spot.”

In the fridge container right now we have guacamole for dipping, pre-portioned fruit in small containers, cheese strings and grab-and-go Stonyfield Organic Snack Packs. (Our main lunches this week includes veggies so I’m not adding it as an extra side.)

Buying grab-and-go sized Snack Packs or pre-portioning out the fruit, veggies and snacks in advance helps us save time in the mornings and ensures that the lunches we pack are healthy and wholesome.

My daughter is living for these Stonyfield Organic Snack Packs – they come in three different varieties:

  • Strawberry Yogurt & Graham Crackers Snack Pack
  • Chocolate Yogurt & Graham Crackers Snack Pack
  • Chocolate Yogurt & Pretzels Snack Pack

Even though it’s the same organic, low-fat yogurt we usually buy, the fun “dippable” graham crackers and pretzels (plus the ice cream-inspired flavors) make these yogurt snack packs more exciting. They are great for lunches and also great for grabbing for on-the-go snacks on the way to all of her various extra-curricular activities… we’re currently signed up for 8 this year!

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN SETTING UP A LUNCH MAKING STATION

The first few times your child makes their lunch, walk through the process with them. Note things that they aren’t able to do yet or struggle with and adjust the set-up to suit their abilities.

  • Make sure everything they need is accessible and in one space
  • Expectations are clear (we use the color coded containers to help indicate that one of each is needed so I don’t have to give reminders)
  • Limits are clear (one item to be packed from each container, ie, one snack)
  • The space is safe enough for them to be truly independent
  • Everything has a clear space that is easy for kids to find, take out and put away without assistance
  • The space is easy to clean

 

Weekly Lunch Planner Printable

To help make the transition to smoother, more connected mornings easier, I made you this Weekly Lunch Planner printable.

There are a few ways you can choose to use this, but my suggestion is to list out all of your child’s favorite options under the corresponding category and then laminate the planner or put it in a page protector.

Each week before your weekly shop, have your child circle three options under each category.

This helps give kids a say in what goes in their lunches (which makes them more likely to actually eat their lunches) while still giving you control over the options so that you can be happy with what you’re buying and packing.

Grab your free printable lunch planner here.

 

Pin these tips for How to Make Your Mornings Stress-free and More Connected:

Lunch box prep can help streamline your mornings and make way for more connection and special family moments before the busy day ahead.

Adding these small tweaks to our week has completely improved our mornings. The contrast between the nagging, frustration and defiance followed by a frenzied rush out the door to our current calm, connected and organized mornings is truly awesome and gives all of us a great start to our day.

For some simple breakfast ideas to help make your mornings even easier, check out our Collection of 80 Easy Healthy Breakfasts for Kids or my daughter’s favorite Kale Pear Green Smoothie recipe.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Stonyfield® Organic.

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