Leave it to Pinterest and Instagram to make me jealous, regardless of what I’m looking at.
Today it was kids’ lunches. Gorgeous photos of freshly picked berries, beautiful greens dressed with homemade dressings, and bento boxes filled with clever tiny foods…
Well, those are great, but come on, ain’t nobody got time for that! Looking at some of these, I’m beginning to wonder if they’re even real. How do these moms find the time to spend so much time on presentation?
Well, I might not have time to make Instagram-worthy lunches, but I do have time to make a week of healthy lunches in 30 minutes or less, which is far more important.
Here are five easy steps for making your week of lunches in under 30 minutes:
Make an Assembly Line
I am a big fan of an ingredients assembly line for our lunches and involving my kids as we assemble them. Once you have everything lined up, this is going to move FAST.
Mason jars, for example, can be lined up and layered as each family member adds an ingredient. Start with a swig of prepared dressing, add your kid’s favorite lunch meat (my kiddos like Land O’Frost Oven Roasted Turkey Breast) and your favorite salad toppings (carrots, corn, black beans, cheeses, dried fruits, nuts, etc.). Finish with your choice of leafy greens on top.
Have the Kids Help
Moms who want an extra 10 minutes or so in the morning can get the extra time by teaching kids to pack their own lunches.
Do you have a PB&J lover in your house like us? A PB&J is the only thing my daughter is eating right now! Lucky for me, I discovered a trick that allows me to make a week of sandwiches and keep them on hand for our busy weeks. Did you know that you can freeze your sandwiches for the week instead of making them daily?
Simply spread peanut butter on both slices of bread to create a wall to prevent the jelly from making your bread soggy. Smear your jelly on in the center of one slice of bread and then put the two slices together. This trick is so simple, your kids can do it for you while you prepare the fixings!
Skip the Chopping
The best part about the summer is all the beautiful and affordable produce you can snag for your lunches. Instead of opting for things that require a lot of cutting, select fruits or vegetables that can be eaten without the chopping. I love cherries, grapes, baby carrots, snap peas, cherry tomatoes and strawberries for this very reason.
If you are really pressed for time, most markets offer fruit that is already chopped, which can save you on time, although the convenience comes with a higher price.
Use a Lunch Box Helper
Half the battle for lunch preparation has been purchasing (and actually using!) the ingredients we have on hand. I have this handy lunch helper printable that you can print out to put your kids in charge of choosing and selecting what they want to eat for the week. Once they have filled it out, use this to shop your store and then have them do any prep work for these options once you get home.
Make It Convenient
One item we have in our pantry is a plastic drawer organizer that houses all those basics we might like to add to our lunches. For example, a drawer for granola bars and dried fruits, juice boxes and bottled water, crunch snacks, nuts and a drawer for all our lunchbox organizers. Keeping these stocked makes our week easier for quick additions to our lunchboxes and saves us time hunting in the pantry.
Hey, we really have just one objective in the morning Get the kiddos out the door, on time for school, without them missing anything. Anything you can have done before the mornings – including packed lunches or at least ingredients prepped to pack quickly – will make this task much easier!