There are many things I like to do, packing lunches for school is not one of those things.

Last year my children started asking me to pack their lunches occasionally. Invariably it was at 8:45 after a long day of errands, cleaning, and activities, and the only thing I wanted to do at 8:45 was binge-watch Netflix and be happy in the knowledge that my children were safely tucked away in their beds. Notice packing a lunch is not listed.

My two boys, Andrew and Adam, went to a day camp this summer that required lunches to be packed everyday. Since this was a necessity that could not be avoided by buying lunch there (like they do at school), I tried to make it as simple as possible. I packed their lunches for the week on Sunday night and stored it in tupperware in the refrigerator. I felt like a genius! I don’t know why I hadn’t been doing that for years! I know Pinterest is full of stuff like this, but really, does anyone actually try the things on Pinterest, or do you just pin away? I usually just pin away. However, all of my children have told me this summer they want to take their lunch to school more often, so whatever prevents me from making crustless peanut butter sandwiches at 9 pm, I’m willing to try.

My daughter, Annabel, will eat pretty much anything, including sardines. One of her favorite foods is sushi. On the opposite end of the spectrum is my younger son, Adam. If it weren’t for waffles and strawberry milk, I’m not confident he would be alive. Andrew is in the middle of these two extremes.

Clearly, I can’t pack the same thing for all of my children. Annabel is easy. Andrew is consistent. Adam is impossible. So what’s a mom to do?

I need a system. A list, if you will. I need it to be easy!

After my experience with packing lunches ahead for camp this summer, I knew that was the way to go for me. I looked at several refrigerator containers online and couldn’t decide what would work for me. So I took the kids and we headed to The Container Store in Little Rock. I was in organizational heaven. I picked up a few Fridge and Freeze Binz containers, a Fridge Benz Egg Holder, and some Snack Pack boxes for fruit and anything else I decide to put in there. I used the containers to hold lunch items prepared in advance that needed to go in the refrigerator. I used some chalkboard labels I already had to put names on each box. I don’t want any fighting about who is getting what for lunch. Each kid will have their own box with their things in it.

My kids love to eat hard boiled eggs; and they’re healthy! But I don’t want them grabbing eggs out of the carton for lunch, because the chances of them grabbing a raw egg are excellent. I can imagine the mess that would make at school; especially since it’s a Champlin tradition to crack hardboiled eggs on your forehead. However, I found the Fridge Benz Egg Holder and boiled a dozen eggs and put them in the fridge. This way, the kids know these are their lunch eggs.

I also used a Pinterest tip of hanging a shoe rack on the pantry door. I tried it and I love it. We recently took a plane trip with the kids, and they all pack their backpacks with snacks. They loved going to the pantry door, being able to see all of their options, and throwing what they want in their bag. We’re going to use this for lunch and snacks this fall.

I also found a great drink holder online. It’s for water bottles, but I used it for Capri Sun, milk and bottled water.

I tried to have a nice variation and put several different food groups into bins in the refrigerator and pantry. The refrigerator bins are for lunches only, and the pantry is for lunch and snacks. To the left are some of the foods I used, but I know there are tons of other options out there.

Planning ahead will make our nightly routine so much easier. Your kids get what they like, you don’t have to pack lunches at 9 pm, and you don’t have to worry about your children suffering from malnutrition!

I’ve been doing this mom things for 10 years and I’ve come to understand the importance of balance between health and sanity, and living without guilt. I absolutely try to make sure my children have a balanced diet and healthy meals; however, if they have cheetos and cereal for dinner one night, I give myself a little grace, and you should too!

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Proteins:

– Wraps

– Peanut butter or peanut butter 

   and jelly sandwiches

– Peanut butter crackers

– Hardboiled egg

– Egg/chicken/ham/turkey salad

– Nuts (pistachios, almonds, pecans, etc.)

Vegetables:

– Carrot sticks

– Snap peas

– Veggie straws

– Red peppers

– Celery sticks

Fruits:

– Strawberries

– Blueberries

– Raspberries

– Bananas

– Oranges

– Apples

Carbs:

– Pretzels

– Crackers

– Goldfish

– Bagels

– Granola bars

Dairy:

– Cheese

– Yogurt

– Cottage Cheese

– Milk