Lunch Planning Made {Super} Simple!

Before I had children, I never really realized how much time I’d spend in the kitchen… making lunches. With four kids all going in multiple directions it can quickly become a daunting task. While we homeschool all four kids, we also attend weekly classes outside the home with a CoOp and that means we have to come up with daily lunch plans.

So James and I had to figure out a way to get this job done easily and efficiently.

And you know what? The solution is closer than you think!

Here’s how we plan easy lunches and snacks that don’t take for ever to make, and you can feel good about giving to your kids.

It’s the perfect way to not worry about lunch all week long and save yourself the daily aggravation of having to rush in the morning to make lunch!.

Watch the replay video when I spoke about this topic on my Fox Segment here:

Sunday Dinner Becomes The Lunch Prep Day For The Week

Plan your Sunday Dinner as a prep day for the week. Decide to make double the meat so you can use it later in the week for multiple meals. For example, extra chicken breasts become chicken salad or part of a cobb salad.

Baked Potatoes easily can be topped (and reheated) with some cooked broccoli, diced ham and cheese or chili on top and you’ve got a sturdy lunch the next day.

Spinach or Cheese Quiche is another  “good when cold” meal.

Now, I HATE leftovers, but with a little creativity, you can create a “new feeling” meal with little extra effort.

Plan a Month At A Time

I’ll be honest, James is a huge help to me in this matter so I cannot take credit for this system. We determined that the hardest part of meal planning was actually coming up with the ideas. So he created a super easy system for quickly devising a plan to have a MONTH of Lunch Ideas!

There are over 20 main ideas on the sheet to get your mind started with creative lunches (such as these DIY PB&J Uncrustables)!

Simply choose one Main lunch idea, then choose 2 Sides to go with it.

I’ve even put together 5 combinations at the bottom of the sheet to start you out for this week!

Download my Easy Lunch Plan Here

Creative Easy Lunch Ideas:

I also spoke about Creative Lunch Ideas on Fox last year, watch the replay of the video here:

1. Wrap It Up

It’s easy to get creative with a tortilla and some unique ingredients. Take your regular tortilla (whole wheat for an even healthier version) and add peanut butter, banana & honey; or mayo, ham & cheese; tuna & celery or even hummus & veggies. If you can make a sandwich, you can make it more fun by wrapping it up.

*FUN MOMMY TIP* Make wraps the night before, then in the morning, slice to look like sushi. Just the sheer change in appearance makes it more fun to eat!

2. Homemade Lunchables

Recreate those expensive “Lunchables” on your own by simply taking a box of crackers, brick of cheese & thick sliced lunch meat!

Don’t forget that mini PB&Js are also good on crackers to break up the mundane. Include the crackers and a small container of Jelly & Peanut Butter.

Kids love to make their own “mini” lunch!

You could also include a super easy DIY Uncrustables!

3. Dip In It

Expand your options by making combinations of snacks with dips…think pretzels & peanut butter, mustard or hummus, or Bell Peppers with Ranch, Blue cheese or hot sauce! It can be more than just Carrots & Celery…although, if those are your fave, use them too! And please don’t leave the fruit behind!  Include peanut (or almond) butter to spread on apples and bananas or dip strawberries in yogurt or just top yogurt with blueberries, pineapple, raisins, nuts or granola. You could even sprinkle plain fruit with cinnamon to give it more flavor!

4. Top It Off

Soups are a great lunch because it’s cheaper to make a big batch and freeze to have ready in a jiffy…but want to WOW your loved ones? Add in a baggie of shredded cheese or oyster crackers so they have something fun to top it off with pizzazz.

Make Snacks Easy To Plan {& Grab}

I honestly think the most frustrating words in my children’s vocabulary are… “I’m hunnnnnngry… Mom, do we have any snacks?” To combat that problem, I set up a “hanging snack distributor” that we hang it on the back of our Pantry Door and I fill it up every couple weeks with super easy snacks to satisfy that afternoon get-me-to-dinner lull.

You can find this Shoe Holder at Dollar Tree, the Dollar Section at Target, or order from Amazon for less than $10 and have it tomorrow (with Prime).

Some ideas for filling it include: pre-bagged portions of Pirate’s Booty or pretzels, Kashi Bars, Cascadian Farm Chewy Granola Bars, raisin boxes.

We also keep a single bin in the fridge for the fresh/refrigerated snacks like hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, lunchmeat wrapped string cheese, grapes, apples (washed and ready to eat).

Remember, for each of these items, you need to stock up when the prices are low so you have more options already on hand making it easier on your budget!

Include Some Fun Inside Their Box

There are hundreds of adorable “Lunch Box Notes” you can print at home and tuck in your child’s lunchbox to surprise them when they open their lunch.

Here are two that I designed for you to Download, a Beach Theme and a School Supply Theme.

Here are 5 more fun ones I printed to have on hand to send with my kids:

  1. 32 Encouraging Boys (blues) and Girls (pinks) from my dear friend Melisha at Finding Time to Fly
  2. Older Kid Lunchbox Notes from the lovely Ladies at Get Buttoned Up.
  3. These Lunchbox Jokes are adorable from Cap Creations.
  4. Clever Lunchbox Notes that say “I love you”, while still looking pretty “cool”.
  5. And I think these Kindness Cards would be perfect for lunchbox notes and then your kids can pass them along to friends also. There’s always room to spread kindness, right?

 

If you are packing a lunch for your kids to take with them, or for you to bring to work, then you will want a nice container that keeps the food separated. These are my two favorites (sometimes Rubbermaid containers go on sale at the Grocery store, so watch for those too!):

 Lunch Containers Lunch Containers 2
$13.95 for a 4-Pack
Measuring: 9.4″ x 6.1″ x 2″
$12.95 for a 5-Pack
Measuring: 8.7″ x 6.1″ x 2.1″

 

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