Raise your hand if one of the perks you enjoy about homeschooling is that you don’t have to pack lunches! (Me, me, me!) My kids and I recently joined a full day, once a week co-op and found ourselves incredibly unprepared to pack lunches. We learned a few tricks to help us out.
Maybe it sounds like an obvious place to start, but getting all the gear helps to make a good lunch. Each kid got a lunch box (or dug out the barely used one from the back of the cabinet) and we loaded up on reusable boxes and ziplock bags. We also picked easily-washed, leak-proof water bottles and freeze gel packs for everyone.
When I originally shopped for our lunches, one of the food items came in a sturdy cardboard box that fits perfectly in my refrigerator shelving. I carefully cut the top off and told the family that it was our official storage box for foods set aside for co-op lunches. Things in this box are off-limits for snacking at home and it also keeps all the little packaged items from hiding in the deep corners of the fridge. Each week (or whenever I decide to force myself to make a grocery run), whatever is purchased for lunches goes directly in the storage box.
I found that when my kids are told to go pack their lunch, it seems that the kitchen turns into a wild mess with people darting every which way, reaching for things, standing still to brainstorm what to pack, and wondering if they packed enough for two snacks and a meal. I quickly realized that I need to step aside and let them do their little dance with me giving tips from another room. After the older ones are packed, I take a turn to pack for myself and the littles.
Packed lunch ideas seem to overtake websites like Pinterest. You can get all sorts of ideas about how to pack warm foods, wraps, sandwiches, allergen-free meals and cute ways to make boring food appealing. I am not usually one to purchase prepackaged foods, but I have found that having one or two snack items or prepackaged desserts to make packing easier is nice.
Us homeschoolers don’t have to deal with thinking about what we will eat for an entire day very often since the kitchen is within arms distance of our schoolroom. But, with a little planning and time, we can become the best lunch packers in the co-op!
Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother to three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.lindsaybanton.com.