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Lunch Packing Strategy

August 13, 2018

In the past I have packed lunches for my kids the night before school.  As a new school year approaches, I want to rethink my strategy.

So I think there are 3 Lunch Packing Strategies:

  1. Throw whatever food you have in your house in a lunch bag
  2. Pre-make Bento Boxes
  3. Stock Lunch Packing Station

Strategy 1:  Toss it in a bag

Hey, it happens.  We have all been there.  Heck I have even been known to run to a fast food drive thru in a panic on the way to school.  Nothing wrong with this.  For my own sanity, and my Type A personality, I find it much less stressful on myself to do even a bit of pre-planning.

Strategy 2:  Bento Boxes

Super new to me.  I have always known they existed and that they are super efficient.  You can even buy ones that are reusable, dishwash/microwave safe and BPA free.  In the long run better for the earth and probably more cost effective.  But the thought of spending my Sunday cooking and packing 5 days worth of lunches and snacks for 2 kids feels overwhelming.  How can all of these meals remain fresh all week?  Will they provide enough variety? Will my kids eat them?

Strategy 3:  Lunch Packing Stations

This seemed to be the middle of the road solution.  You stock plastic bins full of lunch items.  Each bin contains a food group: sandwich/protein, fruit, vegetable, dairy, chips/treats, beverage.  The night before school, your CHILD picks one thing from each bin and puts it in their own lunch box.  I thought this method had 2 very key features.  One:  Mom could do less prework.  Two:  Kids learn to be independent and pack own lunches.

So I know that I do not want to be panicked and in a rush packing lunches in the morning.  Mornings are already a hurricane of crazy.  So the “pack it in the morning” gig is not for me.

I think Bento Boxes sound awesome and I can see a real value here.  But is it more work than it needs to be?

Lunch Packing Stations sound great too but how realistic is it that my kids will pack lunches on their own? Even if it is just picking items out of bins?

School lunches start next week so I am going to put Strategy’s 2 and 3 to the test.  I have purchased Bento Boxes and I have clear bins for stations.  So here we go.

What is your strategy?  Got any tips and tricks?  Or maybe you have a fabulous lunch box/bag/container that you swear by?  Do you have meal prep plans/menus you use from week to week?  Maybe you have lunch items that are easy to toss in lunches?  Have you tried these strategies before and how did they work out for you?

My kids are 6 years and 3 years old.  My 6 year old could easily do the Lunch Packing Station thing.  But my 3 year old … not sure if this is within her pay grade.  Maybe we can use Lunch Packing Stations as a way for my 6 year old to mentor his 3 year old sister?  Is that pie in the sky thinking?  Pre-made Bento Boxes may be easier on the kids but how is that making it any easier on mom?  How is it teaching my kids to make good choices and be more independent?

My gut says that I may end up with a bit of a hybrid situation.  It may end up that I make Bento Boxes for my 3 year old who may not be ready to use the packing station.  And I make a Lunch Packing Station for my 6 year old so he can take care of his own lunch.  Does not feel very streamlined or efficient but it might have to do until my 3 year old is ready to pack her own.  Thoughts?

How did making lunches become so complicated?  When I grew up I had a bologna sandwich and an apple in a brown paper bag every day.  No joke.  For like 8 years.  School provide cartons of milk.  And that was the norm.  We were all nourished.  We all survived.  So no matter how big of a failure I may be at kids lunch prep, I have to remind myself that I tried and lunches are no big deal.  Right?  Back me up on this.  Right?


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