It’s that time of year to start thinking about going back to school. Those thoughts always come with both excitement and dread from parents and kids alike. Here at Des Moines Moms Blog, we want to equip you parents out there with the best Des Moines has to offer to get you “school ready.” We hope you enjoy this back-to-school series as much as we enjoyed putting it together. Be sure to read each day as there will be many giveaways and discounts throughout the week.
Being prepared is a key factor of success for anything in a mom’s life. School lunches are no exception. I have been packing my now fourth grader’s (WHAT!) lunch since he was four and in pre-K. This year, I will be packing for both kids as my youngest heads off to kindergarten. Holy cow… hold on, I need a moment.
Okay, whew… back to the issue at hand. I can tell you with certainty that although I am no expert on packing school lunches, the weeks that have been the least stressful were the weeks I was prepared.
Here are some tips to keep you ahead of the game, prepared, and organized for back-to-school lunch excellence.
What do you need? Talk to your kids about what types of things make a balanced lunch, and find out what they will actually eat. This is the checklist we use and some examples:
Protein: Sandwiches, turkey pinwheels, leftovers.
Vegetables: (We go all out on this – we try to do a different veggie each day.) Broccoli, peas, carrots, zucchini strips, cauliflower. Sometimes, I include a bit of homemade ranch dip or sun butter with celery.
Fruit: Apple slices (or whole), grapes, oranges (my kids love Cuties), bananas, strawberries.
Dairy: Yogurt, string cheese, cottage cheese.
Go out and get it!
At our house, we try to do mostly organic on all of the above. There are many reasons why I feel this is the right choice for my family. Here are my favorites and where I go to get them:
Our must-have bread is Ezekiel Bread. So good! I find it’s cheaper at Trader Joe’s. Also, my kids’ favorite yogurts are Trader Joe’s Organic or Wallaby Organic from Whole Foods. I prefer to get our deli meat from Whole Foods because it’s nitrate free. (Sometimes I splurge and get Applegate Organic deli meat, but it is a bit expensive….) Whole Foods has $2.00 off all deli meats on Mondays, so that’s when I try to go.
Have you tried getting your produce from a co-op? Check out Prudent Produce for convenient home delivery of healthful, organic produce. I also like Hy-Vee’s Health Market, but I find that the selection is not quite as good and prices can be quite a bit more. Although, most Hy-Vees have 10% off food in the Heath Market on Wednesdays.
Pre-cut all produce!
This takes a bit more time to do right when you get back from the grocery store, but it really makes packing lunches for the week (and dinners for the week) SO much slicker and streamlined. If you take this extra step right after you shop, before you put it all away, you will not regret it! Here are some tips on how I do it, and you might even want to try rearranging your refrigerator like this.
Pack it up!
Now that you have your items, they need to be packed. Finding containers and bags to put stuff in can be a bit overwhelming! My lunch-packing idol, Lisa Leake from 100 Days of Real Food, has a TON of cute ideas for how to package everything up. Check out all her tips and tricks.
I have been all over the place with this. Currently, my kids have the Pack-it brand lunch bags, and I like them alright, but I am in the market for replacing them. I am loving Thirty-one’s cute and functional choices, so that is what I am going with for back-to-school this year. I don’t know about you, but I hate all the waste from using disposable plastic baggies, so last year I used cloth pouches and liked those okay, too, but I have found something much better: I am totally digging Norwex’s Out to Lunch packages for snacks and sandwiches.
Oh, and I can’t forget… find a time for packing up the lunches that works for you and your kids (yes, include your kids in the packing). Packing lunches is a part of our morning routine, but some families need to have it done the night before. Figure out what works best and stick with it!
Let me know your best tips and tricks for packing successful school lunches. What are your must-haves and why?
The “Pack a Lunch” giveaway is filled with the following fun things for one lucky reader. Enter below to win. Contest runs only 24 hours.
1) Lunch Tote
Thirty-One consultant, Rachel Verzani, is giving away an all new “Chill-icious Thermal” plus a matching ice pack to help keep those lunches cold! These cute little lunch thermals are just in time for back-to-school shopping. You can purchase your very own set for just $15 when you spend $35, or earn one for free when you host a party with Rachel. This thermal is available only for the month of August. Connect with Rachel via email ([email protected]), through her website, or by phone (712.490.2553).
2) Organic Produce Delivery
Prudent Produce will be generously supplying the winner with a colorful box of 100% organic produce delivered right to your door for two weeks in a row. You might remember Sarah’s rave review about how Prudent Produce has made her life easier as a mom, but we can’t tell you how amazing this service is for area families. Prudent provides customized menus filled with 100% organic produce and other natural foods delivered direct to your doorstep on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Check them out on the web here to see their menus and box sizes, or contact Angie at 515.306.4008 or via email at [email protected]
3) Norwex Reusable Wraps and Enviro Cloth
Norwex consultant, DeeAnn Plueger, is providing the winner with one Out to Lunch Sandwich Wrap and one Out to Lunch Snack Bag. The Sandwich Wrap is ideal for anything you want to wrap up and take along. When unwrapped, it provides a clean surface for food with a nice little circle place mat design. The Snack Bag is perfect for holding pretzels, fruit, veggies, cheese, and other snacks and is also secured with a Velcro strip. Cleanup is easy. Just shake the crumbs off into the trash, wipe with a damp cloth (like the BONUS mini Norwex Enviro Cloth included in the bundle), and air dry. Be sure to find DeeAnn’s Facebook page and “like” it. DeeAnn’s email is [email protected] and her phone number is 515-451-3022. Check out her website at www.deeannplueger.norwex.biz.