Each year when August rolls back around, there is one singular thought on the minds of parents and students alike: back to school time! Usually, all that means is a new grade, new school supplies, new outfits, and a newly empty-during-the-day home, but this year, much like last year, is fraught with confusion on how the school year will go. On top of the regular things that parents have to worry about during this time of year, there is added concern due to the ongoing pandemic. While experts are more confident that this school year will be closer to normal than last, there’s no denying that it’s still a constant source of unease for many parents.
These emotions may even be exasperated further by many making a return to the office come to Fall. Suddenly, day by day, we can feel the summer heat slowly slipping away and leaving in its wake less free time and a mountain of responsibilities. It’s overwhelming!
The best thing that you can do for yourself and your children is to have a handle on the things that you can control and the things that remain constant. Of those, the need for nutritious, easy-to-prepare and easy-to-store school lunches tops the list. As something that needs to be taken care of every single day, it is a great place to try and alleviate the stress of it all. Especially if you are headed back into the office and have less time to spend crafting the perfect lunch for your littles in the mornings, having a firm grip on quickly preparing something to throw in their bags is well worth its weight in gold. Here are some of our hacks that we hope will get you through another eventful school year.
Less time, more nutritious: how to prepare healthy lunches for your children in less time
Have a “snack station” ready for your children to choose from
There’s nothing quite like the disappointment in finding out that the lunch you prepared went uneaten! It’s not only that children can be picky eaters, and sometimes, much like us, they simply crave options. With a snack station, you can keep the pantry stocked with all pre-approved snacks, and they will be able to choose which one they want every morning. Not only does this share the load, but it also all but guarantees that they won’t turn their noses up when they open their lunchbox at school.
Prepare lunches the night before
Do Future You a solid by preparing lunches the night before. After dinner but before you’ve cleaned up for the night, is the ideal sweet spot to get tomorrow’s lunch up and ready. At the moment, you might prefer to relax for the evening, but if you hunker down, we promise that your future self, especially if you’re already very busy in the mornings, will thank you.
Buy pre-made snacks
We all want our children to eat healthily, and sometimes that makes us feel like we need to prepare all of their food from scratch—quite the contrary. While there are plenty of snacks loaded with sugar and ingredients that we can’t quite comprehend, there are also many delicious options from brands committed to the nutritional value of their snacks. Many of the brands we carry at The Sweet Potato are organic, Non-GMO, and allergen-free, so you can feel confident that they are only getting the good stuff.
Use leftovers from the night before
One of the easiest ways to ensure that you have something to stuff into a lunchbox the next day is to use the leftovers from last night. There are plenty of foods that re-heat exceptionally well, and if you’re preparing one for dinner, simply make more of it. It’s so easy that it is almost cheating.
Plan out a week’s worth of lunches before you go on your weekly grocery store trip
A lot of our stress would subside if we just planned ahead, wouldn’t it? Sometimes that is easier said than done, but in this case, if you make weekly grocery trips, you should be able to plan ahead, no problem. This way, every morning or night when planning your children’s lunches, you know exactly what to grab for. Without the trepidation of wondering what to make, you will find yourself getting lunch over with faster and faster.
Keep a log of easy lunches you’ve prepared in the past
Keeping a record of past lunches is a lifesaver. When you need motivation, there is no better place to turn than your past self. Humans can be forgetful, and with that forgetfulness, there are plenty of things we used to do that simply fall by the wayside for no good reason. With a log, you can keep track of what you’ve already made successfully and replicate it in times of need.
Freeze food to stay cool (when melted) just in time to eat
If you are hesitating to pack something because it needs to be enjoyed cold, try freezing the food before packing it. Of course, this won’t work for everything, but in many cases, by the time lunch is ready to be eaten, the ice will have melted, and a cool temperate snack will be left in its wake.
If school lunches have never been your forte, the above hacks should shed your reputation. With them, you will be able to quickly make lunches that not only will your children love but will also be nutritious. Get ready for the upcoming school year with a bit of help from your friends at The Sweet Potato!