1) Breakfast for lunch - My boys aren't big sandwich eaters, so breakfast for lunch is a popular option in our house. I often make a big batch of French toast (made with whole wheat bread, eggs, milk and a touch of cinnamon) and freeze it. Then, I take a slice out of the freezer each morning, heat it up in my toaster oven, cut it up, and stick it in a thermos.
Hard boiled eggs are fantastic too.
Cereal is another simple “breakfast for lunch” option. I fill a thermos with a low-sugar cereal, and my boys add milk at lunchtime. With the addition of some fruits and vegetables, it’s a pretty nutritionally balanced meal.
2) Stock the pantry and the freezer - I love to bake in large batches, wrap the items individually, and store them in the freezer. Then, each night, I just pull what I need from the freezer, and pop them in the lunch bags. This method works great for biscuits, muffins, and cookies.
A well-stocked pantry is also a must. I always buy lunch staples (like granola bars, raisins, unsweetened applesauce, etc…) in bulk when they are on sale. Then, I take them out of their original packaging and put them in plastic containers from the dollar store. This little trick helps save money, makes lunch items quicker to access, and frees up cupboard space.
3) Free lunchbox notes - I love to leave little notes in my boys' lunches because it lets them know that I am thinking about them while they are at school. To download the notes I designed (for free), right-click on one of the pictures below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular photo. (FYI: The apple notes are 8X10 and the bear notes are 4X6.)
4) Apple trick - My middle son is missing some of his baby teeth, so he can only eat an apple if I cut it up for him... and he doesn't like when an apple starts to turn brown. The solution: cut an apple, put it back together, and secure it with an elastic, and cover it with some plastic wrap (to keep the air out).
5) DIY ice packs - Frozen yogurt tubes are fun to eat, they keep lunches cool, and they thaw in time for lunch. A damp sponge in a Ziploc sandwich bag also makes an easy DIY ice pack that they can use to clean there hands after they eat.
6) Lunch box smoothies - Make a batch of smoothies, freeze them, and pop them in the lunches each morning. You can find details on the jars I use and the recipe for lunchbox smoothie HACK here
7) Lunchbox biscuits - These biscuits are delicious, but the school lunch shortcut is even better. You can get the recipe and read all about my lunchbox biscuits HACK here.
I hope these school lunch HACKS help make "back to school" a little less painful in your home. Do you have a school lunch HACK you'd like to share? I can use all the help I can get!
Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)