The secret to getting out the door faster in the morning? Having lunches packed and ready to go before your alarm even goes off. Blocking off a few hours on Sunday is plenty of time to pack five days’ worth of lunches for the kids (and you!).
You already know that packing lunch is more budget-friendly than having the kids buy lunch at school every day, and that it helps you make sure they’re eating somewhat healthy when you’re not around. But who has time to pack all those lunches in the morning, when you’re already strapped for time? It’s so much easier (and very tempting) to just give the kids lunch money.
That’s why I’m all about make-ahead lunches. Here’s how I pack lunches for the entire week on a Sunday night. It doesn’t have to be a Sunday night, though. Find an hour on Saturday or Sunday that works for you, and get packing.
The Three-Basket Rule
I have three baskets, and each is filled with something for the kids’ lunchboxes.
Basket 1: I buy a HUGE container of pretzels and separate it into little snack bags. I do this the day I get home from the grocery store. A handful of pretzels goes into each baggie.
Basket 2: Fruit cups or fruit squeezes. My kids love these because they’re sweet and quick to eat; I love them because they have a serving of fruit!
Basket 3: Fruits and vegetables. I like to throw in another fruit, but this time I do dried fruit, or a fresh fruit like an apple or banana. I’ll also cut up and pre-pack veggies, and sometimes I change it up with yogurt-covered raisins. I prep them the same way I prep the pretzels (divide them among little baggies).
Once you make your sandwiches, get them into the sandwich bags, label the bags and freeze them. That’s right. Freeze the sandwiches. Then each morning, toss a sandwich into each lunchbox. It will help keep the other food cold and will be thawed to perfection by lunch.
Mini Water Bottles
Buy those tiny water bottles and let the kids take one per day for lunch. It’s the healthiest drink option around and small enough to fit in their lunchboxes.
Every afternoon, when the kids bring their lunchboxes home, unpack them, throw away any garbage, clean them with a wipe and then refill them with something from each basket.
In the Morning
In the morning, finish packing the pre-packed lunchboxes. Just grab a sandwich from the freezer and a water from the fridge. I start by doing this for my kids, but I want them to learn to be responsible for themselves, so I make packing lunches their job by the end of kindergarten.
Pre-packing lunches can save you a lot of time on busy mornings. It might even be enough time to hit snooze and sleep in for just 5 more minutes …