We are about to enter into a new season as TWO go to school all day, which means it’s time to think about a lunchbox meal planning strategy again! After having little toddlers for so long it’s kind of mind blowing to realize that we have two kids that are old enough to be in school.
They say time flies in a flash.
And friends, it does!
Prefer to listen instead of read? Listen to episode #91 of Fit Mama Real Food Radio where I share all about my lunchbox meal planning strategy + amazing practical tips you can implement today!
With back to school right around the corner I’ve been thinking about my lunchbox strategy and what it will look like as I pack two lunch boxes each day. It’s going to be a little different than last year where just Hunter was in school.
With one lunchbox to pack I felt like I could easily wing it – use leftovers or piece together a lunchbox simply with the foods we had on hand. It wasn’t stressful and we even followed my goal of a different lunch box every single day of the school year. That may sounds like a huge pressure to put on, but honestly making it different could be as simple as serving a different fruit with the same lunch as the previous day.
If you’ve looking for some lunchbox inspiration, do check out 10 unique school lunchboxes ideas.
This year my strategy isn’t focused on a different lunchbox every day, but rather SIMPLICITY. Of course focusing on real food and nourishing lunchboxes with variety in them is a must, but I can simplify that a bit.
Packing two lunchboxes makes me realize I need a plan to be prepared with enough food for two on hand. Because one thing I will not be doing is packing two different lunchboxes and thinking of two different ideas each morning or night before.
So to simplify my life and have enough of the same food on hand for two lunchboxes I will create a lunchbox meal plan for the week just like I’ll be creating a meal plan for dinners and breakfasts (which I’ve totally slacked on doing over the summer – more on that HERE!).
Lunchbox meal planning strategy
- Ask Hunter and Zoe if they have an item/idea of something they want in their lunchboxes for the next week and add that to the plan.
- Plan 2 different lunches to rotate through during the week. The lunchboxes will include a protein, carbohydrate, vegetable, fruit and extra (dip, nuts, treat). Sometimes the protein and carbohydrate look combined like a sandwich/wrap, but they can also be separate.
- Write out the lunchbox plan (as I write out my meal plan for the week) and make sure that I will have enough of the food on hand for 10 lunchboxes.
- Prep what I can in advance on Sunday.
- Once a month (during the last week of the month) let the kids pick a day to have hot lunch at school.
What will that lunchbox meal planning strategy look like? Here’s an example.
Lunchbox option 1: Deviled egg salad with sprouted grain toast squares, cucumber sticks, grapes and almonds.
Things I could prep on Sunday to simplify the week: deviled egg salad, mini einkorn pizzas, kefir ranch and rinse + separate the grapes. Once I have those items ready for the week, lunchbox packing will be quick + take WAY less brain power.
Sounds amazing, right?!
I’ve invested in more lunchboxes to add to our packing arsenal because I’m packing more. I like to have two lunchboxes for each kid that way I don’t have to wash it (okay really run it through the dishwasher) each day.
Here’s what we already had for lunchboxes:
Here’s what I added:
Another LunchBots Large Cinco Bento
They both wanted the option of having warm foods packed so I invested in a couple of wide mouth thermoses and they’re stocked about it!
I’m excited to be able to plan leftovers that I can send with them that will stay warm. For example, if I plan mac n cheese one evening for our dinner meal plan, I will double the recipe so that I have enough to send for two lunches during the week. Easy peasy!
Do you have a lunchbox meal planning strategy, or do you wing it and use what you have on hand? What’s been working for you? Has it changed over the years?