This is me trying to improve upon last school year. We did ok toward the beginning of the year, but soon settled in to many months of rushed mornings and the same PBJB* day after day after day. Eventually we finished out the year with buying school lunch every day. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but I prefer home lunch. And I really prefer not-so-boring home lunch so the kids don’t whine about it. I mean… so they get a wide variety of healthy foods and nutrients. Or whatever.
Last year I had good intentions, but not much of a plan. So this time around, I decided to expand the daily themes idea that I use for dinner to breakfast and lunch too.
*My husband’s family says PBJB instead of PB&J. I’ve gotten so used to it I can’t go back. It’s so much easier to say! Does anyone else do this??
The idea here is to have a list to pick from each day so I don’t have to think very hard before 8 AM. I’ve made sure there’s a SUPER easy option for each day in case we sleep in or whatever, and I plan to have a freezer full of good, filling breakfasts ready to heat and serve. I’m hoping to make Saturdays a big cooking day where we double/triple/quadruple whatever we’re eating and freeze the extras for weekdays. This is what I’ve got so far:
- breakfast bars – I actually haven’t figured this out yet, but there’s got to be something out there, right? I do have some granola bar recipes. And I could always buy them.
- breakfast burritos w/ egg, bacon/sausage & cheese – I’ve done these in bulk before and they freeze really well.
- bacon/egg/cheese sandwiches – I haven’t done it yet but I bought some of those whole wheat sandwich thins to try it out.
- smoothies – I’d like to put together smoothie packs in ziploc bags to just throw in the blender the day of. Also I plan to make smoothies and freeze them in these plastic jars to take on the go or send in a school lunch.
- pancakes & waffles – freeze & pop in the toaster later
- French toast waffle sticks – We made these today & they were a hit. Hopefully they freeze well.
- other stuff made in muffin tins – I haven’t tried any yet but there are tons of ideas on Pinterest
Any other ideas? What do you make for breakfast on busy mornings?
Here are my themes to base lunches around. A lot of these can be made in bulk and frozen, or at least made ahead on Sunday.
Monday – pizza: leftover from Friday night, or made on an English muffin or something
Tuesday – sandwich
Wednesday – tortilla: wraps, pinwheels, quesadillas, etc.
Thursday – whatever: leftovers, soup in a thermos, frozen smoothie taken out that morning, salad, something creative, or… a sandwich if all else fails
Friday – snack box: homemade lunchables, granola bars with a bunch of fruit & veggies, little cheese sticks with nuts & yogurt, just something fun. Or a sandwich.
By the way, here is an AWESOME resource for sandwich-free school lunches! I’m sure I’ll never go to quite such great lengths for variety, but I WILL use some of her ideas.
One thing I did pretty well last year was prepping a whole bunch of sides/snacks to throw in the boys’ lunches. There are tons of individual-portion-sized things you can buy, but in general it’s WAY cheaper to buy a big bag and portion it out yourself, especially if you can snag ziploc bags on sale – which they are at Costco right now! I love the snack size bags though, which I think they only sell in a variety pack. Womp womp. There’s one bin in our cupboard designated for on-the-go snacks that can either be part of a school lunch or just grabbed on the way to gymnastics or the park.
- trail mix
- dried fruit
- animal crackers
- anything in the WinCo bulk section that looks interesting
I do buy some things pre-packaged, like fruit snacks and rice krispie treats, but I only buy them when they’re on sale (also at Costco right now!) and then I try to use them sparingly since they’re full of sugar. Oh, we love those little applesauce squeezie things too, although they can be a bit pricey.
I also will prep snack-size bags of carrots, sugar snap peas, celery sticks & grape tomatoes. I try to keep a fridge drawer full of these, as well as some PBJBs for emergencies. I end up shopping the drawer before outings with the littles a lot too.
I for one am willing to invest my time some afternoon or on a weekend to avoid a little craziness during those already-rushed school mornings (or a tantrum at the library). Does anyone have more ideas for minimizing the stress surrounding meals? What do YOU do to simplify meal planning/preparation?
And how about any suggestions for how I can ever stick to a plan? I’m hoping someone else out there can benefit from this one, because I’m pretty sure it’ll last about 1.5 weeks over here. I just want to make it clear that these are my intentions, not things I’ve already mastered, lest anyone think I’m actually good at this stuff. I made this whole plan precisely because I’m NOT good at it. Hoping this will help. Good luck to us all!